There is no one easy way to answer this, since there aren’t any rights and wrongs. No two relationships are the same. So there cannot be a one-word answer to whether it is okay or not to flirt with someone else when you are in a relationship.
Expert coaches Summer Watson and Jen Fontanilla who, through their live show The Life, Love & Money Show, provide practical tips to help manage life, love, and money matters, say that in order to answer this question, one has to first understand what flirting really is.
“It is to act in a way that is playful with or without the intent to engage someone romantically. Many times, it’s overt behavior that is playful, coy, alluring, and can be in-person, by body language, or in a written form. It can be the gateway to an intimate relationship and be the play that keeps a committed relationship fun and exciting,” they say.
The coaches add that one may think their flirting is done in innocence, but it may be due to something they are either consciously aware of or not aware of, but it “meets some kind of emotional need for the person engaging in the behaviour”.
“Meaning, if you flirt with others and they respond, it could feel fantastic. You could say flirting is a built-in mechanism to support humans in finding their intimate partners. When engaging in flirting, both the brain and the body react to these cues, which ignites the dopamine. The brain responds to the stimuli as does the body and the reward producing neurotransmitter dopamine motivates our pleasure centre,” they explain.
Summer and Jen, however, caution that flirting can become habitual and addicting, because it feels good to feel good.
If you want to assess what you have been doing so far, here are some questions, which will help you become more aware of your behaviour, and how it may affect your significant other:
1. Are you aware of your flirtatious behaviour?
2. What are you seeking to gain by flirting?
3. Could others misinterpret your flirting?
4. Do you think your flirtatious behaviour is affecting your partner?
5. Has your flirting gotten you into uncomfortable situations?
6. Has your flirting ever gone too far and moved into a possible complex situation?
7. What are you not getting from your relationship, where you feel compelled to flirt?
8. Is your flirtatious behaviour causing a division in your relationship?
9. Have you tried flirting with your partner?
10. When you have tried flirting with your partner, have they been receptive?
Additionally, when it comes to whether or not it’s okay to flirt in a relationship, this has to do with the understanding that you have with your partner, the coaches say.
“Flirting may be something that attracts your partner to you, but if you’re continuing to flirt with others, this could cause friction. Talk to your partner about whether or not flirting is okay in the relationship and be ready to listen with an open mind and heart. You may also consider doing more flirting with your partner, which will keep the romantic sparks flying,” they suggest.