Occasional flirting is fun and may be seen as simply a kind of social behavior. But when it becomes compulsive, it has the potential to wreck a relationship. So if you find yourself getting distressed by your partner’s flirtatious nature and yet are reluctant to break up, here is what to keep in mind and what to do about it.
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Get wise at the start
At the outset, it is best to keep in mind that being in a relationship does not mean that you own the other person. Everyone has the right to look around and appreciate the beautiful things in life. However if you are just beginning to date this person and feel that his/her ‘appreciation’ goes a little further, it is best to re-examine your own priorities in a relationship. Are you comfortable with the huge popularity your partner enjoys with members of the opposite sex or would you rather he/she not flirt at all? You have a right to decide what means most to you just as the other person has a right to look where he/she pleases.
Build up your own self-confidence
For many, flirting is an expression of an outgoing and self-confident personality. To them it is just a part of their social behavior - a way of announcing themselves to the world and reveling in the general recognition as popular, attractive people. Chances are that perhaps these very qualities attracted you to your partner as well. However as you get emotionally closer to him/her, maybe you no longer like the idea of your partner being so popular with members of the opposite sex or hanging out with them ever so often. In such a situation, it would be far more sensible to enhance your own personality so that you acquire a self-assurance from within and do not feel insecure by your partner’s popularity. Take a course, learn a new skill, a language or pick up a hobby that will widen your horizons. All these will help you to build your own self-confidence and lessen any chances of feeling threatened by your partner’s flirtatious behavior.
Probe a little deeper
If your partner’s flirtatious behavior was not there to begin with and is a recent development, consider if there are any underlying causes to the change. Have you unknowingly hurt your loved one or made him/her feel taken for granted? Your partner’s new flirtatious avatar may simply be a way of turning your attention back to him/her and putting the focus back on your relationship which your partner may feel that you have been ignoring. Or his/her compulsive flirtation may be a manifestation of some deeper uneasiness such as tensions at work or family problems. Men going through a mid-life crisis have been known to behave uncharacteristically with women far younger than them and this may include an unaccountable flirtatious behavior too. If you feel that your partner’s compulsive flirting stems from such underlying causes, make sure that they can always count on your understanding. Your partner may not be ready to talk about what is bothering them right away but knowing that you are around and having the channels of communication open may help you both to discuss how to address deeper issues.
Be more accepting
Sometimes flirting is not merely an expression of an exuberant personality but a sign of a compulsive behavior. It may be that your partner is willy-nilly drawn to attractive people around them and no matter how uncomfortable you feel, sees nothing wrong in that. However being attracted to others does not automatically mean that your partner is going to cheat on you. Your partner may be appreciative of another person’s looks, intelligence or a quality and stop at that. Attraction does not necessarily create a temptation to cheat and you should allow your security to grow on this fact.
However if your partner’s compulsive flirting truly bothers you and you feel that you cannot go on like this it may be time to take an active approach. Choose an appropriate moment and place to discuss what you are feeling and why. Instead of launching into a tirade and accusing your partner of being an inconsiderate jerk or a tart, admit that his/her behavior hurts you and makes you feel belittled especially when he/she flirts with others right before your eyes. Having an honest and open discussion will in the end be much more helpful instead of you bottling up your feelings and smoldering within only to blow up later down the road when you have had enough. Also asking your partner why he/she feels the need to look for appreciation from others will allow him/her some room to present his/her side of things. At this point it is essential not to dilute your perspective since your partner may try to convince you that his/her flirting is only “a bit of harmless fun and does not mean a thing”. If it has been bothering you to an extent when you recognize the need to verbalize it, then it is surely not fun and as far as you are concerned definitely not harmless.
Let your partner take a call
After you have had your say, let your partner decide on what he/she would like to do about your concerns. Let him/her known that you have tried your best to adapt but can no longer go on like this and would love it if the two of you could meet somewhere in the middle. If your partner values this relationship as much as you do, then they will surely take some steps to modify their behavior. On the other hand if they refuse to do anything about it or merely balk at your concerns, then perhaps it may be time for you to decide whether this is the right relationship for you.
Finally remember that any kind of compulsive behavior including flirting is exceedingly difficult to change. Your partner’s heart may be in the right place but they may from time to time lapse into their earlier behavior. On the other hand even though they may not be able to completely let go of their gregarious nature, they may be eager to show their love and commitment to you in many more ways than before. Living with a flirtatious partner can either be extremely stressful or a matter of minor adjustments, depending ultimately on your own personality and how much it can take.