Most couples assume that fidelity is a part of their relationship. While everyone’s intentions may be honest, there are times when a committed person can find him or herself flirting to someone else. Even if there are no specific problems within the relationship, a third party can cause havoc.
How Can A Third Party Come Between A Committed Couple
It might happen entirely by accident. You and your spouse are attending a dinner and are seated next to an attractive person. Your partner begins to chat with the person to be sociable. However, you soon notice that everyone else is being excluded while the discussion turns more intense and animated.
You feel totally invisible as your mood shifts from embarrassed to irritated to furious. You are no longer having a good time and wish you were somewhere else. Deep down, you know that you have no reason to be jealous. Your partner is just talking at a social event. What could be more normal? But it seems he or she is enjoying it just a bit too much. Your partner appears quite flattered at being singled out for all this attention. The two of them continue laughing and giggling while you sit silently fuming.
Flirting isn’t always easy to define. One’s person innocent conversation is another’s inappropriate behavior. Your first step is to evaluate the situation.
You know you aren’t the jealous type. Your partner has never given you cause for doubt. Now, you begin to wonder if the problem could be with you. Are you desperately insecure? Or are you simply not as interesting as some other people? You swallow hard at the possibility that your partner, whom you love and adore, may be becoming bored with you.
Do You Have A Reason To Feel Jealous?
While your mood darkens, you wonder if everything is okay between you and your partner. Have you been saggy lately? You’ve been busy at work and may have been a bit, just a bit, irritable. As you watch someone paying rapt attention to your partner, you realize that maybe you’ve taken him or her for granted.
It might be time to check your priorities and put your partner at the top of the list. This passing conversation your partner has with a stranger may inspire you to acknowledge reality and change your own behavior. Does your partner need more attention from you? An innocent flirtation, if handled well, can bring about unexpected changes in your relationship.
Your Partner Has Been Unfaithful
What happens if things don’t stop at the laughter stage. Perhaps your partner was genuinely smitten and is now engaged in a full-blown affair. Perhaps he or she wasn’t looking, but they sure found something more than expected. You blame both the brazen troublemaker and your partner.
Researchers have studied infidelity and how to handle betrayal and embrace forgiveness. They found that there are two general ways to handle unfaithfulness. One is with continued bitterness and a desire for vengeance. Forgiveness doesn’t figure into your emotional reaction. You grasp at bitterness and hurt emotions.
While you understand your partner didn’t intend to cheat, it happened. Forgiveness isn’t all that easy under the circumstances. If you plan on saving your marriage despite an unfortunate incident, begin by accepting your feelings – anger, shame, and all in a nonjudgmental way. Once you can accept the negativity and acknowledge it, it will be easier to confront your partner. The more mindful and nonjudgmental you remain, the more you will be able to muster up the forgiveness needed to salvage your relationship.
Set Your Boundaries
You should have some idea of what your boundaries are before the occasion arises. If the flirting is an innocent one-time thing and truly doesn’t affect you beyond some mild annoyance, it might be best to ignore it. Perhaps you can tell yourself how nice that you married someone others find so attractive.
However, flirting isn’t always so innocent. The third party may be making some overt touchy-feely moves. Ideally, your partner will end it at the first opportunity and introduce you. Unfortunately, we don’t live in an ideal world. If the flirting is extreme, it might be best to speak up immediately. Interrupt if necessary in a playful way. “Isn’t my husband/wife just wonderful?” Your partner should certainly get the message.
If you are uncertain of the intentions, you can make a mild joke. “Hey, okay if wife/husbands gets into this conversation?”
Things become more complicated if the flirter is someone you deal with regularly, such as a friend or a neighbor. In this case, it might be best to take the person aside and, in a non-accusatory manner, admit that it bothers you when someone flirts with your partner.
Who Is At Fault?
If someone else is flirting with your partner and he or she gets a bit carried away, your partner probably isn’t at any great fault. However, your partner may encourage the moment, flirt back, and ignore you. If this happens too frequently, your relationship could have some problems that need attention.
Undisguised flirting may be a warning sign that your relationship has problems. Or it may be an opportunity to become more committed and ensure that you are your partner’s favorite flirt.
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