But now you have noticed. Doubt has crept in to make you wonder if all that flirting is a sign that your new romance is not as solid as you thought. She flirts with the waiter or the valet parking attendant. He seems to lavish his charm on someone new every time you go out. And it leaves you feeling wounded, confused, and even betrayed.
Before you issue angry ultimatums or break it off prematurely, here are seven strategies to help put things into perspective — and guide you in deciding what to do next.
Talk it over.
Resentment is like mold — it grows fastest in dark, hidden places. If you have concerns about how much your partner flirts with others, bring them into the open. Ask direct questions and welcome honest answers. You may find that a misunderstanding lies at the heart of the matter.
Consider your partner’s motives.
Psychologists point out that not all flirting is about the search for sex or new relationships. For some it masks a sense of insecurity, or is simply playful, never intended to go past the moment. Others use flirting to gain some immediate advantage, like free drinks at the bar or a better table for dinner. Find out which flirting “style” best describes your love and try seeing things through their eyes.
Consider your own motives.
It’s possible that what you call flirting is really just normal, harmless social interaction. Take your own pulse to be sure you aren’t showing signs of unreasonable possessiveness.
Take science into account.
The fact is, a certain amount of flirting is hardwired into our DNA as humans — yourself included. Any attempt to eradicate it entirely, just because you’ve begun a more serious relationship, is unrealistic, and maybe even impossible. On top of that, research has shown that people are more likely to pursue something — even in spite of known negative consequences — if they think it represents “forbidden” fruit.
Read the big picture.
If the person you are dating has a habit of flirting, resist the temptation to let it become the sole piece of evidence upon which you judge the relationship. What do other signs suggest? Do you genuinely enjoy each other when together? Do you communicate well?
Reverse the roles.
This doesn’t mean play silly mind games designed to spur jealousy in your partner. But rather than pouting from the sidelines, you can choose to become the most interesting, attractive, flirty person in the room. It will remind your love why he or she came with you in the first place.
Be true to yourself.
If you’ve done all the above, and your gut still tells you something isn’t right, then do what you must to hold your boundaries. Insist on better treatment, or — failing that — plan your exit.