Thursday, August 2, 2007

the flirt

I’m a flirt. I know it. My friends know it. You only have to talk to me for about three minutes and you’ll know it too.

I’m an indiscriminate flirt. I flirt with men I am interested in, grandmothers and little girls. No one is safe from my wide-eyed attentions. But I’m also a careful flirt in that I refuse to bat my eyes to get what I want from someone. No. I don’t do that. For me, it's just a harmless form of communication.

I was reading a book recently where the main character, a married man, kept saying that it was fine to flirt with other women. Healthy. He drove the point home by flirting with other women in front of his wife. I couldn’t tell if the character really believed flirting is fine, or was just hammering the point home over and over again to indicate that he knows it’s wrong, and he’s trying to convince himself otherwise. It got me thinking. Thinking about flirting with someone else, when you’re in a long term relationship.

I ran a poll on the blog, fully aware that a lot of the blog’s readers are men. A fact that I always find surprising, since in addition to posting news and gossip about the region, I also post a lot of really random blogs about my life. Those are the most popular; I get the most comments and emails from readers on them. Again, from men. Who understand a lot more than we give them credit for, and in my experience are often the more sensitive of the sexes. The fairer sex, if you will.

The poll’s question was this: If you’re married or in a long term relationship, is it ok to flirt?

Flirting Poll Results

I say yes, my partner says no, so I don’t do it. 0%

I think it’s harmless, yes I flirt! 29%

No, it’s not ok. It opens the door for other stuff. 14%

No, it’s not ok. It disrespects my partner. 55% +

Your responses indicate that most of you think that it’s disrespectful to flirt with someone else when you’re in a long term relationship or married.

Given the fact that a lot of this blog's readers seem to be men, the answers surprised me. I expected a lot of people (read: men) to say it was perfectly harmless to flirt.

I was also surprised by the number of people who differentiated between flirting as a prerequisite to “other stuff” happening and being disrespectful. Surprised, because in my own experience, this has been next to impossible to try to explain to someone else (read: men; women have complete understanding of this concept).

Where am I in the poll? I’m in the “it’s terribly disrespectful to your partner” camp.

Sorry, guys.

I know I should be all “it’s great-and healthy-and fun,” but I just can’t get on board with that. When I’m in a relationship, I don’t “see” anyone else. Literally. I get so wrapped up in the person I am with that attractive men are like West Chester; nice to look at but I wouldn’t want to live there. And if I am with someone who flirts with someone else in front of me, it makes me mad. Actually it hurts my feelings, but I’m a stubborn cuss and instead of crying I’ll feel the white-hot burn of a thousand suns. So will you, if you’re the unlucky flirter.

No, I don’t think you are going to cheat, just because you are flirting. Please. But it’s disrespectful. Very. Disrespectful. The woman you are flirting with thinks your partner is a schmuck for putting up with you. We know that they think we are schmucks and it upsets us. That’s the real problem.

But I’ll go out on a limb and say if you’re in a long term relationship and you’re recklessly flirting with whoever strikes your fancy that may not be the real problem at all.

I asked some of my friends for their input on why someone in a long-term relationship flirts with other people. This is what they gave me:

  • Flirting with other people when you’re in a relationship is often a sign of insecurity. Your way of showing the world, I could do better, if I really wanted to. See how many people want me? Sure, my husband or wife might be kind of average-looking, but I’m a stud / vixen and still attractive to others. Relationship flirters need to know that they still have “it.”
  • Flirting with someone else may, subconsciously, be a way of trying to hurt the one you are with. Woah. That one came from a really good guy friend in California and it is way too deep for me to get into. But I thought it was interesting to think about.
  • Flirting may also be a way to try and make your partner jealous. To fire things up in an otherwise lackluster bedroom department. Fire up the dead embers of a once bright flame. You get the idea.
  • They may just need the attention.
  • And in some cases, they’re “fishing” flirters. The cheaters are pretty obvious. It’s the “I’m only kidding around if you are” flirters that bother me the most. It’s a careful pause after a comment that was slightly too risqué, a moment where the flirtee has an option; to respond in kind or, in my case, to pretend like I didn’t get the joke.

It would be disrespectful to do otherwise.

OK, OK, now go ahead and leave a bunch of comments telling me I’m uptight, judgmental and that you’d never THINK of cheating; flirting is just “healthy” and “fun” for everyone involved. It has nothing to do with how unhappy you are… right?

And the next time we meet try to come up with some other topic of conversation than how your wife/girlfriend/significant other’s out of town for the weekend. Or how lonely and misunderstood you are.

And definitely do not “accidentally” graze my butt while you impart this exciting piece of news.