Let’s start with the concept of what flirting is. It is to act in a way that’s playful with or without the intent to engage someone romantically. Many times, it’s overt behavior that is playful, coy, alluring, and can be in person, by body language, or in a written form. It can be the gateway to an intimate relationship. It can also be the play that keeps a committed relationship fun and exciting.
The question is: Is flirting when in a relationship okay? Well, it depends on several different things. First things first, if you flirt with others, are you aware of your flirtatious behavior? Do you know when you are flirting with others? Have others been receptive to your flirting? How does it make you feel when you flirt? Are you a chronic flirt? How does your flirting affect others? And what is your intent when you flirt?
You may think that your flirting is done in innocence, but many times it is due to something we are either consciously aware of or in some cases not aware of. But it serves to meet some kind of emotional need for the person engaging in the behavior. Meaning, if you flirt with others and they respond to your playful and amusing behavior, this could feel fantastic. You could say that flirting is a built-in mechanism to support humans in finding their intimate partners.
Many times, it feels good to have others find us funny, sexy, playful, and alluring. When engaging in flirting, both the brain and the body react to these cues and signs by others, which ignites the dopamine in our brains or what you would call a dopaminergic reaction. The brain responds to the stimuli as does the body and the reward producing neurotransmitter, dopamine, motivates our pleasure centre. Flirting can become habitual and addicting, because it feels good to feel good.
When thinking about if it’s okay to flirt or how it might affect your relationship,the following questions will help you be more aware of your behavior and how this may affect your significant other:
Flirting is done for a multitude of reasons and some researchers even say that it is necessary for the survival of the human race and that this behavior taps into a very primal place for us as humans. Over time, we have finessed the tactics of how we flirt, such as attracting someone with a raised eyebrow, a glancing smile, a lick of the lips, a lingering look, a slight leaning in when close to a person who you want to be playful with, or even touching in a playful way.
After asking yourself and reflecting on the previous questions, you will be able to best assess whether or not your flirting is hurting your relationship. Additionally, when it comes to whether or not it is okay to flirt in a relationship, it has to do with the understanding that you and your partner have. Flirting may be something that attracts your partner to you, but if you’re continuing to flirt with others this could be cause for friction or even hurt their feelings.
It’s always going to be important to have an open discussion about flirting with your partner and what the boundaries are, in your relationship, when it comes to this type of behaviour. Be ready to listen to your partner with an open mind and heart and consider flirting with your partner, which will keep the romantic sparks flying!
(The article has been written by Summer Watson, MHS, PhD and Jen Fontanilla, Certified Money Coach, co-hosts of “The Life, Love & Money Show with Summer & Jen”.)