Is Flirting Cheating Or Harmless Fun?
Flirting is a common practice amongst adults of any gender, and it’s not limited to those not in a relationship either. The attraction of flirting is that it’s a way to gain the attention and approval from those you flirt with, and I don’t believe it’s always sexually motivated. Flirting can be a brilliant ego boost for both the flirter and the flirtee.
Whether you’re in a relationship or single, is flirting really a completely harmless pastime? And if you’re hooked up, could flirting be seen as cheating? Could you get into trouble or danger if you have developed a flirting habit?
Are You A Flirt?
Some people are more likely to flirt than others. Innate qualities such as your personality and character, as well as your experiences through life, all have an impact on whether you find flirting fun or avoid it altogether. Flirting isn’t usually an ‘all and everyone’ thing either; if you do enjoy flirting it’s natural it happens only with those you feel comfortable with. Maybe the flirting is completely restricted to only those you have a serious romantic interest in.
How I Flirt
I flirt regularly –online, at least- despite being in a long-term relationship. My flirting is a very open and public practice, but it is largely restricted to online interactions. In this way it’s fun for me –and hopefully those I flirt with, too. My partner is aware that I’m an online flirt. He can usually read all my flirting for himself, as it’s on Twitter, or Facebook, or one of my other many public social media accounts. I was an online flirt when we got together, over 8 years ago now, and we set ground rules right from the start so we both know where each other’s boundaries lie and what we’re both comfortable with.
Face-to-face, I’m not so much of a flirt. I think my past negative experiences with men have made me ill-at-ease when conversing with them, and I would hate someone to get the wrong idea and think I was seriously looking for romance or physical affection simply because I flirted. Online, I find it easier to make it clear what my intentions are, that it’s simply a bit of fun and that I have no intention of taking it beyond that back-and-forth banter. It doesn’t help that I have a serious hearing loss which affects both ears, which makes me worry that I won’t hear another person correctly during face-to-face conversations, and it affects my confidence slightly when conversing in this way too.
I guess we can all be the most confident version of ourselves online, because we can present our best (filtered) photos, think before we type out a sentence or status update, use emojis to help show our intent and tone, and there’s no worry about being physically pounced upon at any time without consent – particularly when keeping safe online by not letting people know your location.
It isn’t just men I flirt with online – actually, it’s not even usually or majorly men I flirt with online. I feel much more comfortable flirting with women online. It’s a feel-good way of getting attention, it’s an ego boost and the fact I enjoy it so much probably points a lot to my own insecurities if I’m honest. I must say, though, that I hardly ever flirt face-to-face with women. This is because my ‘gaydar’ sucks and I tend to have absolutely no clue whether a woman is bisexual or lesbian, or would be otherwise interested in receiving my flirtatious attentions, and it’s not something you tend to feel comfortable asking a new acquaintance -or even an old friend, to be honest.
“So, hey… don’t suppose you happen to be romantically interested in women? Mind if I kink up the conversation a bit?”
No. It’s like prying about the contents of someone’s pants. It’s none of my business, it would be totally inappropriate and may lead to awkwardness at least; hurt & loss of friendship at worst.
Online, at least in my Cara Sutra persona, I think I’m known as an enormous flirt when it comes to women. My website is full of bisexual and lesbian themed articles and erotica. I don’t simply pounce on my friends online (anymore. Yes I have made this mistake in the past as I assumed everyone was like me – naïve and wrong, I know), I do wait for some hint that they’d be open and amenable to this type of flirting. Even then I try to rein myself in as I know I can be a little much – I find it hard to know what’s too much for people when it comes to online chat and flirting, I’ve spent many years talking openly about my sex life and masturbation habits online, as well as discussing all types of taboo topics in the BDSM scene, and my tact and discretion have suffered as a result.
Staying Safe While Flirting
The main thing I’ve learned through flirting and watching others flirt – both online and face-to-face – is that you need to make sure everyone involved is fully aware of the intent. Aware, and happy with it. This goes a long way to avoiding any unfortunate or dangerous misunderstandings.
It’s much more difficult to make your non-sexual intentions known face-to-face, I find. If you do simply want to flirt and not take it further, I mean. Online it’s easier to add a winky emoji, or to drop in about how you’re ‘just a terrible flirt’, or other mentions of not wanting to take things further than fun chat.
And if you do want to take your flirting further, if that’s the purpose of it, then there are other factors to consider. Is your ‘flirtee’ in a position to respond to your flirtatious advances? Are they showing signs of responding? Watching carefully for body language cues as well as verbal ones will help.
Is The Flirting Harmless?
In all situations I find that I must keep at the forefront of my mind whether I’m making the subjects of my flirting feel good about themselves, or simply awkward. If there is any sign that your flirting is unwelcome then you must stop immediately – otherwise it’s a breach of consent.
The way in which the flirting is done, the full awareness of both parties about the true intentions of the flirting, really defines whether the flirting is harmless or not. It’s not enough that you think the flirting is harmless and means nothing more; the subject of the flirting must also be aware of this -and be happy with it, too.
Flirting When You’re In A Relationship
When you’re in a relationship but you enjoy flirting with others, there are obviously additional issues to consider. An additional person and their feelings, for a start.
If you flirt openly, whether online or face-to-face, how does your partner feel about that? It’s something that you really should talk about in depth, at a time when you can both be completely clear about your feelings, and set any required limits and boundaries. Maybe they’re fine with online flirting but face-to-face would feel too ‘real’, and be off the grid. Or perhaps they’re fine with both types, as long as they know it would never go further. Or maybe they enjoy watching you flirt and have other ideas for consensual fun too – there are too many potential situations to try and summarise here.
For those in relationships who flirt secretly -and secretively- this points to unresolved issues in the relationship. It is a red flag that you feel or are aware that your partner would not approve of your flirting habits. Personally, I wouldn’t count it as cheating – but it’s certainly dishonest. If your partner would see secret flirting as cheating, however, then that’s what you need to factor in.
Flirting in any situation or relationship status is not necessarily wrong in and of itself. The secretive element is what points to problems in the relationship – with ongoing open communication between you and your partner if nothing else.