Do's and Don'ts When Your Partner is a
By Susie and Otto Collins
"How can I make my partner stop being such a flirt?"
Flirting can seem harmless or even cute-- except when you
are the partner of the person who is doing the flirting!
If you are in a love relationship or marriage and your
partner tends to flirt, you might feel jealous, worried,
rejected, angry or otherwise upset.
It could be that you've always known that your mate has a
tendency to flirt with others.
And it could also be that your partner has assured you time
and time again that his or her flirting is
meaningless-- just for fun.
The trouble is, when your partner offers attention that
appears to be romantic or even sensual to someone other than
you, it probably doesn't feel meaningless.
In fact, you might find yourself questioning the level of
commitment your partner has to you and your relationship
because of this behavior.
There is no question that flirting-- when it happens between
a person who is in a committed relationship and one who is
relationship-- can damage a relationship.
There is also no question that your reaction to your
partner's flirting can create even more distance,
disconnection and conflict in your relationship.
So what can you do about flirting? Can you make your mate
stop this seemingly destructive behavior?
The short (and unfortunate) answer is that you can't force
anyone to stop flirting. There is no "off" switch on your
partner's back that will enable you to control how he or she
interacts with other people.
A more involved answer, however, is that you can take steps
that will improve the situation. You are not powerless in
In fact, because you are in this relationship too, your
response to your mate's flirting plays an important role in
what can happen next.
Here are a few Do's and Don'ts to consider about
DON'T turn the tables on your partner.
Some people advise that the best way to "cure" your flirting
mate is to give him or her a taste of the same behavior.
They suggest that if you overtly flirt with others while in
the presence of your partner, he or she will understand how
hurtful it can be.
The supposition made with this advice is that this
understanding will jolt your partner into realizing that the
flirting must stop-- for both of you.
Anytime you attempt to manipulate your mate (or anyone else)
by turning the tables in a way such as this you are risking
a pretty huge backfire.
If trust is weakened in your relationship due, in part, to
the flirting that your mate has been doing, imagine what
could happen if you join in and flirt with others as well!
This is not a risk worth taking.
DON'T offer an ultimatum.
We've all been in positions where we felt frustrated and
even helpless in the face of another person's undesirable
Finally, in desperation, we utter an ultimatum: If you don't
stop doing ________ , I will _________.
The trouble with ultimatums is that they are completely
meaningless-- unless you are truly willing to follow through
with what is essentially a threat.
If you declare something like, "If you don't stop flirting,
I will leave this relationship," make sure you ready and
wanting to actually make good on what you are saying.
Ultimatums are strong words. If you don't follow through,
you are indicating that you don't mean what you say.
DON'T let jealousy and fear take over.
It can be tricky not to be taken over by your jealous fears
when your partner flirts-- and continues to flirt even when
you make it known you don't appreciate this behavior.
Unfortunately, jealousy and fear will only take you further
away from your partner. You will also most likely feel eaten
up inside by your upset and difficult emotions.
By all means, acknowledge how you feel and process how you
feel. Don't let your fear-induced guesses and jealousy
stories take root, however.
Try to keep yourself focused on what you know to be true and
deal with your feelings-- and your partner's behavior-- from
a centered place.
DO keep your calm and clarity.
Practice ways to return to a calm, "cool" and clear-headed
place. Learning some breathing or meditation
techniques might be helpful.
Being calm doesn't mean that you accept your mate's
flirting. Instead, a sense of calm and clarity allows
you to know what you want and to take decisive steps toward
When you choose a response rather than have a reaction to
the flirting, the chances are higher that you will take
action and say words that you will feel good about later.
When you act and speak from calm and clarity the likelihood
that you and your partner can find ways to move closer
together again are also greater.
DO decide what your bottom line is.
What is your bottom line? Go within yourself and make a
decision about what you absolutely will not tolerate or
negotiate about in your relationship.
Be as specific as you can be. This might pertain to your
partner's flirting and it might also relate to other aspects
of your relationship.
When you communicate to your partner what your bottom line
is, do so in a way that is not threatening or dramatic.
You can simply make it plain that you are not willing to be
in a relationship if a particular behavior is going on.
Again, make certain that you are going to follow through.
You can express to your partner what your bottom line is
even as you indicate to him or her your love and your desire
to build trust and move closer together.