Earlier this month, reports revealed how men and women in relationships react to their partners flirting. In one of the surveys mentioned in the reports, researchers wanted to find out if a heterosexual man in a room with an attractive, flirty woman would answer questions about his significant other differently, as opposed to a heterosexual woman in a room with an attractive, flirty man. As it turns out, men and women did answer the questions differently. However, men were less tolerant of their partner’s hypothetical transgressions after flirting, while women were more tolerant.
Crossing the line
We have all flirted or had someone flirt with us at some point in our lives. Most of the time, it is harmless. But, when there is an underlying motive to it, it can affect a relationship. Psychotherapist and relationship counsellor Gittanjali Saxena says most people flirt for fun. But, at times, they cross the line. She says, “Flirting can be termed as cheating if you do it with the intention of winning a person’s love or to have a fling.” According to Saxena, if an individual is in a committed relationship and shows a sexual interest in someone other than his or her partner, it means that some of the individual’s needs are not being met by the partner. It shows that the relationship needs help.
Avoiding frequent flirting
Abid Khan (name changed), 35, an advertising professional, has been married for 10 years. He admits that women constantly flirt with him, but he makes sure they don’t cross the line. He says, “A woman in the office flirts with me all the time. But when she crosses the line, I just ignore her.”
Then, there are also instances when an individual may not realise that he or she is flirting in a manner that could impact his or her relationship. Joslyn D’souza (name changed), 29, who works at an export firm, recounts her experience. She was good friends with one of her colleagues, and chatted with him regularly on the phone. “This guy called me almost everyday post work, mostly before my husband returned from his office. One day, my husband came home early. He was shocked to hear our conversation. He made me realise that this wasn’t harmless flirting. I have now limited my chats with this colleague to only work-related matters,” says D’souza.
While D’souza had no intention to cheat on her husband in this case, Shetty believes that people in relationships shouldn’t ignore the situation when their partners flirt with someone else. Saxena says she recently counselled such a couple after the wife discovered that her husband was having an affair. “She revealed that she had always known that her husband was a flirt. She did not think much of it, but it resulted in an extramarital affair. If she had taken the right steps, this would not have happened,” she says.
An individual may be the best judge of whether his or her partner is indulging in harmless flirting or not. But if there is an underlying motive to it, it’s best to deal with it before it is too late.