Is flirting cheating, or is it healthy? Many people ask themselves if flirting is considered cheating, but it’s not usually that simple. There’s flirting and then there’s flirting. People flirt for different reasons and flirting with others is not always cheating, but there are certainly times when it may be.
Below we discuss various forms of flirting and what can be considered as cheating—and what cannot.
It’s in Their Personality
Some people were raised to compliment others, always have a twinkle in their eye, and love to tease—those are the people who are natural charmers. They flirt with everyone, but their intention is not to bed everyone—they just like to have a laugh and make people feel good about themselves. If they, to topple it off, are very physically open and like to pat others on the back and give massive bear hugs, their personality can come off as even more flirtatious.
Chances are these are people who enjoy meeting and chatting with others. They may also like flirting in the easiest sense of the word—showing others that they appreciate talking to them. In all likelihood, they’re great at handing out compliments, too.
On the flip side, these people are usually not the people who have an intention to sleep with everyone they meet. Even if they do, they know there’s a lot of fish in the sea, so they are by no means forcing their way into someone’s private space. And when in a relationship, they aren’t after sex from others—though they likely still enjoy the attention they get from people who are charmed by them, but there’s a boundary. A very clear boundary.
If someone loves to have a laugh with others, naturally strikes up conversations, have a smile that lights up a room, and have a tendency to hand out compliments, they’ll be popular. They are natural charmers—that’s not going to go away. And the fact that others love chatting to them and getting some of that charm bestowed upon them is not likely to go away, either.
There may be a wink and an innocent hug, but that’s it. This kind of person doesn’t let their eyes linger for too long, and while there may be a pat on the back, there’ll be no pat on the bum.
In short, while charmers are flirtatious by nature, if they’re true to their partner there’s no overt flirting anymore. It’s more friendly than it is flirtatious. Like the waiter that always winks at you, listens to your troubles, compliments your dress, and tells you that you’ll make it. They’re nice. But they are not staring at your legs the whole time you’re talking, nor trying to touch you up, or get your number.
While we all have different opinions on cheating, we wouldn’t call this kind of flirtation cheating—it’s just your partner’s inherent personality.
They’re Overstepping the Line
If your charming partner suddenly starts looking at someone’s legs the whole time while talking to them, or squeezes their biceps, on the other hand, that’s when things aren’t right. Especially if they’re always doing it. And if you can hear the conversation going south—there seems to be sexual innuendo—that’s when things are no longer kosher.
If your partner needs sexual attention from someone, as opposed to just having a laugh with them, then yes, it could be considered cheating.
Note that almost anyone in a long term relationship will look for confirmation they’re still attractive from other sources at one point or another during the relationship. If they are committed to the relationship, this will be something that happens once or twice though, not every day. And if they are committed to the relationship, it stops there. They realize what they’re doing, they’ve been satisfied they’re still attractive, and they go back to doing everything possible to support you and your relationship with them. [Read: 8 Great Tips for Asking Guys Out]
If your partner has gone from being supportive and attentive to suddenly looking for attention elsewhere, you also need to ask them why. Maybe they’re having a phase. Why? Are they jealous and looking to get your attention by making you jealous? Are the two of you going through a rough patch? Are they having a midlife crisis? Is your sex life stagnant?
Sometimes when a couple is going through a rough patch one or both partner seeks attention elsewhere. They feel robbed of their partner’s attention, they feel unsupported, they feel unattractive, they feel constantly sexually frustrated—whatever it may be, they choose to resolve it by going elsewhere.
They Check People Out Unconsciously…Or Consciously
If you see a nice bum on the street, chances are you’ll let your eyes linger. It’s a natural reaction—both for men and women. Men may be a little more driven by their sexual urges, so chancer are higher they have an actual habit of checking out women. If someone in a skirt is walking down the street, they’ll check out their legs.
Again, this can be as harmless as having a naturally charming personality. It’s different from checking someone out and then winking at them. That’s an invitation.
It’s also different from checking someone out and then linger. I.e. not remove their eyes. It isn’t a brief, almost unconscious glance, it’s a full-blown undressing session.
The latter—men and women who check people out uninvited and don’t stop at a mere glance—are the ones who make people uncomfortable. What’s more they are clearly stepping outside the boundaries of their relationship if they are currently seeing someone. [Read: 10 Tips for Older Men Wanting to Date Younger Women]
Players and people who are flirtatious in general tend to check people out and almost have a little giggle—they’re enjoying themselves—but it stops there. They know there are plenty of fish in the sea and they won’t take it further unless invited to do so and not currently in a relationship.
Sleazy people, on the other hand, take things further. And without an invite to do so.
They Want a Response
A man or woman in a relationship who are looking to flirt with someone to get a response beyond a nice smile, is doing something that may violate the boundaries of the relationship. It’s one thing to be a natural charmer, or checking out someone’s legs as they walk by. It’s another thing to walk up to a person and start chatting because you want some sort of flirtatious interaction from it. Want a number. Want confirmation of how sexy you are. Want to spend hours talking and basking in the attention. Want someone to take the conversation in a sexual direction. Want an invite to a hotel room—even if they’ll say no.
The Reasons Why
If someone is actively flirting with others in a way that’s clearly inappropriate—they spend hours sitting with people who are adoring them, they’re squeezing bums, or complimenting strangers on their fantastic backsides—they are likely doing so for various reasons. They could be a sex addict. They could have a broken ego and need constant affirmation they have sexual prowess. They could be miserable in their relationship and need attention from elsewhere. Or it could be something else entirely. [Read: Should You Stay in a Relationship without Trust]
One thing is for sure—if it happens and you don’t like it, you need to ask them about it.
You Need to Talk
When you enter a relationship, you need to have a chat with your partner. Are you someone who encourages your partner to fantasize about others and can happily talk dirty about the person they checked out in the supermarket? Or are you someone who will tolerate them being charming at large and checking out the odd bum, but nothing more? Or are you someone who will ask your partner to train themselves never to look at someone else again? What’s right for you? What’s reasonable? What’s right for your partner? Remember that this goes two ways!
Some people actually love having others fawn over their partner—it proves that they hit gold. They’ve got the guy or gal everyone wants. Others like their partner to be prim and proper.
Decide what’s right for you and what your boundaries are and take it from there. By the end of the day it’s not about what others think—it’s about what makes you feel comfortable, granted it’s within reason. Forbidding your partner to talk to others is not reasonable. Forbidding them to stare at their butts could be.