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3 Things You CAN Do When Your Partner Won't Admit to or Talk About Flirting

By Susie and Otto Collins

John is a big flirt. This is painfully obvious to his wife, Cheryl, but not to him.

Over the years, Cheryl has tried a variety of tactics when it comes to John's flirting and none have been effective.

She's tried to hide her feelings. She's confronted him about the flirting. She's reasoned with him about it.

Now that they are trying to rebuild trust after John's affair, Cheryl is more aware than ever of his habit of flirting with other women. She knows that flirting is how that affair began.

Because John has been so willing to rebuild trust with her in other ways, Cheryl is shocked that he is continuing to flirt.

To make matter worse, he absolutely refuses to talk with her about his flirting. He won't admit that it's an issue and leaves the room if she tries to bring up the subject.

If trust is weak in your love relationship or marriage because of infidelity or lying, you might be putting a lot of effort into rebuilding trust and strengthening your relationship.

You and your mate might be learning and practicing new ways of communicating and being intimate with one another.

You might be doing all of this work to restore your
relationship...and then along comes the flirting.

Your partner's flirting may seem innocent and like "nothing" to him or her. But, to you and especially now, it can feel like a very big deal!

We've said it before and we'll say it again...

Flirting is wonderful when it happens between two people in a relationship or occurs between available people in a dating situation.

However, when flirting occurs between people who are already in other committed relationships, it is damaging and dangerous.  Flirting can cause confusion, trigger jealousy and erode trust.

None of these will help you rebuild trust after infidelity.

What do you do when your partner won't admit to or talk about this very real problem?

If your partner has a habit of flirting, you may have already made these assertions to him or her. You two might not agree about what types of behavior are considered flirting and what are not.

This is where it can get tricky.

It could be that your partner sees his or her actions as innocent because this is not what your partner considers flirting to be. You, on the other hand, see it quite differently.

It's not going to help you resolve the conflict to argue about whose definition of flirting is correct and whose is incorrect.

This might actually be part of the reason why your partner now refuses to talk with you about this.

In general, "flirting" is defined as playful behavior that is intended to spark sexual interest in another.

It's difficult to really know what another person's intentions are.

It can become even more unclear when you are watching your partner interact with another person and you worry that he or she is intending to arouse sexual interest in another person.

Things can become confusing and upsetting very fast and you may or may not be accurate in what you think you are seeing.

If your partner denies that he or she flirts and refuses to talk with you about it, forcing the issue is not going to help-- it's only going to drive your partner further away from you.

Here are 3 things that you CAN do...

#1: Get clear about what you are seeing and what you are imagining.

If there's been infidelity in the past in your relationship (or in your previous relationships), your mind might fill with possible scenarios about what could be happening when you see your partner flirt with another person.

Without dismissing your very real feelings, bring yourself back to what you do know. It is so important that you are basing your words and actions on reliable information.

Pay attention if you have a tendency to use the term "flirting" loosely.

In other words, if you call most of your partner's casual conversations with other individuals "flirting," you may want to assess your definition of what flirting is.

Joking is not necessarily flirting. Talking one-on-one is not necessarily flirting. Eye contact or touching is not necessarily flirting.

If, however, these behaviors are combined with an intention to sexually arouse and if the touching or talking become intimate and intense, then it could be flirting.

#2: Look for an alternate approach when communicating.
If it's become obvious to you that your partner will not continue a conversation with you that involves the word "flirting," you might try an alternate approach.

The goal here is NOT to avoid talking about his or her flirting or to let your partner "off the hook."

This is about finding a way to keep communication going and to encourage you both to stay open to one another so that you can come to some resolution about this.

If, for example, your partner tends to flirt with others when you two are at a party, you might focus your communication on the subject of re-connecting when out together socially.

You could make the request that the two of you physically or verbally frequently touch in with one another and spend more time together at parties.

#3: Create agreements that you both can be okay with.
Whatever request or agreement you propose to your partner, make sure that you are putting before him or her an agreement and not an
ultimatum (unless you are truly willing to follow through with it).

As you create agreements, stay open and really listen to what your partner has to say. Promote an environment in which you both feel like you can be honest about this and that you are agreeing to the
same thing.

Too often, a couple makes an agreement that is not understood in the same way by both people. The agreement is inadvertently broken because of the confusion.

In other cases, one person will agree to the request merely to get the other "off his or her back." Forced agreements are rarely kept or, if they are kept, resentment builds.

An agreement made with openness, honesty and clarity can be a positive step that you and your partner take to end the flirting with others as you two rebuild trust.

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Relationship Coaches Susie and Otto Collins
PO Box 14544, Columbus, OH 43214
Contact Susie or Otto about Relationship Coaching by calling 614-459-8121.
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