Here are six ways to know when you shouldn’t be flirting, plus the difference between harmless flirtation and emotional cheating. Are you cheating by flirting? It depends which of the five stages of flirting you play up the most.
Flirting is cheating on your partner when your body language goes beyond innocent winks, smiles, and teasing. It’s not harmless flirtation when people are emotionally involved or invested in each other.
Here are several signs of harmless flirtation, which isn’t cheating. Then, I list a few signs of emotional cheating, plus a link to more information about cheating on your partner by having friends of the opposite sex. And I saved the best for last! Five ways to know if flirting is hurting your relationship.
Flirting isn’t necessary sexual. It’s similar to teasing and gentle “ribbing.” My elderly neighbor flirts with me all the time, in a nonsexual-yet-warm way. Flirting is a type of connection that can make people feel good about themselves – but if it’s done poorly, it can be seen as cheating on your partner.
Signs of Harmless Flirtation
- You tease or talk to friends or colleagues of the opposite sex in front of your partner.
- You don’t make romantic innuendos or promises to others.
- You make eye contact for short periods of time (in other words, you don’t stare meaningfully into someone’s eyes for long moments).
- You laugh at jokes, tease, or nudge your flirting partner in non-suggestive ways.
- You don’t lie to your partner about who you spend time with.
- You treat everyone the same way. You don’t reserve certain squeezes or moments for a particular person.
Flirting isn’t cheating when you’re an “equal opportunity flirter.” That is, you flirt with women, men, elderly folks, salespeople, colleagues, and your relatives.
Signs of Emotional Cheating
- You often have long lunches or extended drinks after work with colleagues of the opposite sex – and you don’t often talk about business.
- You discuss your work problems thoroughly at work with colleagues of the opposite sex, leaving nothing to talk about with your spouse.
- You share jokes and gossip with friends or colleagues of the opposite sex, not with your partner.
- You spend as much time buying the right gift for a friend or colleague of the opposite sex as you do for your spouse.
- You share intimate issues with friends of the opposite sex, not your partner.
“When a spouse places his or her primary emotional needs in the hands of someone outside the marriage, it breaks the bond of marriage just as adultery does,” says Gary Neuman, author of Emotional Infidelity: How to Avoid it. “An emotional affair can be just as dangerous to a marriage [as a sexual affair], and often a more complicated situation to remedy.”
Flirting is harmful if it leads to emotional bonds with people that are more intimate than the bond you have with your partner. To learn more, read What is an Emotional Affair?
5 Ways to Know If Your Flirting Is Harming Your Relationship
Your partner isn’t comfortable with your actions
If your partner feels hurt, betrayed or angry because of your flirting, then you need to reevaluate your understanding of flirting versus cheating.
Friends or colleagues misinterpret your actions or relationship
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If your coworkers think you’re leading someone on or flirting with emotional cheating, then you probably are. Pay attention to what the people around you say with regard to your flirtatious behavior.
Your flirting partner misunderstands your signals
If your flirting partner thinks you want more than to share a joke, then you don’t know the flirting versus cheating difference. If your flirting partner makes a pass at you, then you’ve gone too far.
You see the person you flirt with often
If the person you flirt with calls you at home often or visits your work regularly, you may have blurred the flirting versus cheating line. If your flirting partner is a colleague of the opposite sex and you’re getting strong sexy vibes, then your flirting isn’t harmless.
You’re flirting for the wrong reasons
If you’re flirting to manipulate another’s feelings, attract people, get a job, or increase your self-confidence, then you may have crossed over into emotional cheating (or just flirting for the wrong reasons). Flirting harmlessly doesn’t usually have strings attached, nor is it manipulative.
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Do you find that your relationships don’t last because of flirting? Read the Secret Reason Women Leave Good Relationships.