Flirting is often seen as a fun thing. A man flirts with a woman to make her sit up and take notice, attract her, ask her out on a date. A woman flirts with a man to draw his attention and have a good time. Flirting involves a fair bit of game playing and body language.
TIP: Ashley Madison is a dating web site notorious for playing cupid between men and women inclined towards extra marital affairs.
But when a man or a woman is married and still flirts with members of the opposite sex, what does that imply? There are differing views on this. Some consider it harmless; after all can’t a man find a woman beautiful and tell her so? Or isn’t a woman allowed to dress like one and use her feminine wiles? So what if he/she happens to be married? Some even think it makes a marriage stronger.
For instance, if a man were to flirt with your wife and she were to flirt back, you might see her not just as the mother of your kids, but as a still very attractive woman who has what it takes to attract another man. And it will probably make you realize that you shouldn’t take her for granted. And that you had better pull up your socks and take note of that fact. Admire and appreciate her, because if you don’t, someone else will. And she may be so happy with the attention she never gets from you, that the next time you look, she may not still be around to appreciate.
In some situations flirting while married would be considered harmless:
The born flirt
There are men, or even women, for whom flirting is second nature. And it never changes for them even after they get married. Everybody knows it and is aware that they are totally safe. What they say is taken with a pinch of salt and everybody has a good laugh later.
The spouse knows it
Occasionally a married man/woman may flirt with certain people like a close pal or second cousin who they are familiar with, in full view of his/her spouse. And the spouse has no problem with it. They know it is in jest, or maybe just the mood of the moment. Maybe one of them has had a drink or two extra and is in an extravagant mood. And it is considered perfectly acceptable.
It is innocent
For many married individuals who flirt, it is just a pastime. A way to reinforce to themselves that they still have what it takes to play word games with a member of the opposite sex, or even to see if they are still capable of attracting someone. But they are very sure that it will stay that way. A compliment or a witty conversation or naughty joke will stay that, and will not translate into an expectation of something more. It is purely innocent and they know they will never cross the invisible boundary into forbidden territory.
But there are many who also consider it unfair to the other partner and that flirting for married couples should be strictly off limits. Is such a stance too rigid and judgmental? When would it be considered wrong for a married man/woman to flirt?
Without the knowledge/consent of the spouse
When the other partner has no clue of the flirting activities that his spouse indulges in, then it could be wrong. Again, if the flirting is purely in fun, even without the knowledge of the spouse, as long as it doesn't go further, it might be considered acceptable.
When it goes beyond
When flirting ceases to be casual and harmless and oversteps the boundaries of acceptable behavior, then it is wrong. Very often, flirting starts acquiring sexual undertones and once that happens, it becomes very difficult to stop at verbal sparring and not take it one step further.
When you actively seek it
Often, flirting is spontaneous, it just happens as a normal response to somebody you find appealing. But when you go out of your way to flirt with someone, you have to examine your motivations. Be honest with yourself and figure out why you are consciously looking to flirt with a member of the opposite sex. Don’t make excuses later, that things just got out of hand; realize that you went into it with your eyes open.
The seemingly harmless trend started by the Internet, which offers married couples the opportunity to flirt, is a prime example of a situation that can get out of hand. Research conducted by the University of Florida throws light on how married people entered chat rooms on seemingly innocuous reasons like having a friendly chat. How true they were being to themselves, is a question mark. But in many cases, chat rooms become a prime factor in relationship breakdowns.
In fact, most married people entering into chat rooms like Yahoo’s 'Married and flirting', or Microsoft’s 'Married but Flirting', didn’t think they were doing anything wrong. Very often, they said it was prompted by boredom, a desire for variety and fun or their partner’s lack of interest in sex either because of child rearing or other preoccupations, says the study.
The partners however, felt betrayed by the virtual infidelity, even without any physical contact actually taking place. Often though, interest is awakened about the other person and flirting online leads to meetings and thereafter it's all downhill to the divorce court.
While some married couples are successfully able to flirt and overlook it, others aren’t. The bottomline is this:
Respect your partner and figure out his/her comfort levels with your behavior. If they give you the go-ahead, or they are secure in your devotion to them and see your flirting as nothing more than a lighthearted and friendly way to have fun, good for you.
If you can’t justify it to your partner and yourself or your partner finds it unacceptable, then don’t do it. If you are still tempted to flirt, you need to examine your relationship and figure out if you still want to be in it and do what it takes to make the other person happy.
And remember, if your partner has trusted you enough to turn a blind eye or even an approving one on your flirting, don’t abuse that trust. Make sure that your flirting stays at just that, and never cross the line.