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Is Flirting Cheating When You’re in a Relationship?

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Is flirting cheating when you’re in love with someone? Here’s something you really need to know and understand before jumping to conclusions. By Cheryl James

is flirting cheating

Do you flirt with an attractive friend when your partner isn’t around?

Or a better way to put the same question is, do you enjoy having a happy conversation with an attractive friend or coworker?

Most people press the panic button when it comes to flirting.

And almost always, that’s because they don’t understand what flirting really is all about.

What is flirting?

Flirting is a simple idea. It’s a conversation where you attract the other person using your charm and your conversational skills.

If you attract someone while talking to them, you’re already flirting with them. Of course, sometimes, that could happen unintentionally too.

[Read: How to flirt with a guy without really flirting at all]

If you flirt with someone, it doesn’t have to mean that you’re interested in sleeping with them. You’re just having an interesting conversation that makes you realize just how attractive you really are.

Even when you decide to go out with your own partner, you dress up and wear something that may show a bit of skin. But your partner already knows how you look naked. So why are you revealing your assets to other guys? It’s because you like looking good, don’t you?

And that’s exactly what flirting does on the inside. It makes you realize your own sexuality. [Read: 10 ways to look really sexy without trying]

Read this before flirting with someone else!

Just so you know, flirting outside the relationship may not work for everyone. It never works if you’re dating an insecure partner who feels threatened whenever you’re around someone your partner perceives as more attractive.

If your partner has low self esteem, they would definitely hate you if you flirt with another person or if they even hear that you flirted with another person.

So before you go flirting with everyone else, keep your partner’s insecurity and jealousy in mind. [Read: Are insecure men ever worth dating?]

Why does flirting feel so good?

Before we even get to chatting about whether flirting is cheating, let’s get to why flirting feels so good. Here are 4 good reasons.

#1 It helps keep your sexuality alive and makes you feel better about your own attractiveness.

#2 You become a better flirt, which makes you a better tease and a better conversationalist.

#3 It makes you feel more confident about yourself and your own abilities.

#4 It doesn’t leave you frustrated or restricted by your relationship.

If you can flirt naturally, it shows that you have all the charming traits in you already, and that makes you a really good catch.

The difference between harmless flirting, touchy flirting and talking dirty

Is flirting cheating? Well, it depends on the kind of flirting you have in mind. There are 3 types of flirting you could indulge in when you’re talking to someone outside the relationship.

#1 Harmless flirting. This is the kind of flirting where you use your gestures and your voice to have a happy conversation. You tease and you laugh, and you have a great time. This is perfectly acceptable even when you’re in a relationship. If your partner can’t handle it, it only means they’re insecure or feel offended when you give anyone else your attention. [Read: 15 shocking and yet subtle signs of a controlling boyfriend]

#2 Touchy flirting. In this kind of flirting, you do all of the above and yet, you take it one step further. You exercise your hands and almost all the time, your hand’s resting on some part of your friend’s body. You may place your hand causally, but it could definitely be misinterpreted by everyone around.

#3 Talking dirty. When anyone talks about flirting, every prudish mind thinks of this kind. Flirting is casual. Talking dirty definitely isn’t. If you talk dirty, compliment the other person sexually or try to get them to sleep with you, then that’s completely unacceptable when you’re already in a relationship. [Read: How to talk dirty to your own guy]

So if you do indulge in a bit of flirting with others when your partner isn’t around, restrict it to the harmless kind. It’s safe and fun, and no secure partner takes offence of it.

Flirting and the need to feel appreciated

All of us have the need to feel appreciated. And that’s why we dress up, use makeup, workout or get a better job. Somewhere deep inside all of us, we need reassurances from someone else to feel good about ourselves.

When you get into a relationship, you feel great about yourself because you’ve found someone who truly loves you and finds you *exciting*. But as time goes by and the sweet and sexy compliments start to become a routine, it forces you to look for reassurances from outside the relationship. [Read: 25 compliments for guys they’ll never forget]

If an attractive colleague compliments how good you look in a new dress, you feel good about it even though you already know you’re wearing a cute outfit, don’t you? That’s the power of reassurance.

And it’s the same feeling you get when you flirt with someone else. It helps you realize how sexually attractive you still are, and that makes you feel more confident and sexy.

Is flirting when you’re in a relationship really cheating?

All of us flirt naturally, whether we realize it or don’t. Many lovers who don’t want their own partners to flirt with anyone else may just be hypocrites. Of course, you may not like the thought very much. But put yourself in your partner’s place. Wouldn’t you enjoy a conversation with an attractive someone other than your own partner?

The more you suppress your flirting side, the more you’d feel like you’ve lost your sexuality. And that would in turn affect your confidence in bed. So is flirting cheating when it can make you a better lover?

Times when flirting can be a lot of fun

#1 Your partner isn’t around, and you’re in the middle of a conversation with someone you admire or find attractive.

#2 If you’re talking to someone who won’t misinterpret your conversation, and is flirting with you just to have a fun conversation.

#3 You’re feel unsexy and you really need to feel like you still have the sexual charm in you.

Times when you should avoid flirting

#1 Your partner is insecure or you’re dating someone who’s extremely jealous. *good luck with that relationship!*

#2 You’re talking to someone who will misinterpret your conversation or assume that you’ve started falling for them even if you’re only trying to have a fun conversation.

#3 Your partner’s friends are around, and they would want nothing better than to exaggerate the situation and spread slutty stories about you *because they’re probably jealous*.

#4 Your relationship is going through a rough patch and you need to focus on building your relationship instead of sweet talking someone else. [Read: Top 20 reasons for divorce that most couples overlook]

Flirt, but never leave your partner in the dark

Flirting is healthy for a relationship, but both of you should be aware of each other’s abilities to sweet talk someone else. You need to have a great relationship with your partner, and both of you should have a lot of trust and love in the relationship. [Read: How to build trust in a relationship]

And most importantly, don’t set different rules for yourself and your partner. If you’ve flirted with someone behind your lover’s back, you partner has every right to do the same thing too.

After all, you’ve flirted now and then and you know it was harmless, so why restrict your partner from having a pleasant and interesting conversation when you’re not around? [Read: How to handle controlling behavior in a relationship]

And let’s face it, you have no choice anyways! All of us flirt or brighten up when we meet someone attractive.

Love recklessly and flirt with caution

Would you hate yourself if you have a warm and pleasant conversation with someone of the opposite sex? Would you hate receiving a compliment from anyone other than your own partner? It would make you feel better about yourself, wouldn’t it? [Quiz: Would you ever cheat on your partner?]

Flirting is a natural ability of humans, and it makes us feel really good about ourselves. And as long as you know where to draw the line, it’s all fine. Instead of restricting yourself or behaving like entering a relationship means banning all happy interactions with the opposite sex, learn to accept that even if you or your partner indulges in a bit of harmless flirting now and then, it doesn’t mean either of you love the other person any less. [Read: What should you do when you start liking someone else?]

If you love your partner, it’s within your moral control to hold yourself back from going any further or cheating on them. Restrictions from outside won’t change anything. So if you must flirt to feel good about yourself, go right ahead, but always remember to give your partner the first preference and always avoid making them feel insecure or neglected.

[Read: How to have a perfectly happy monogamous relationship]

So is flirting cheating? Well, it all depends on the way you look at it. If it works for you and your relationship and makes you feel attractive, I’d say go for it. But if you feel like it affects your relationship negatively, then hold your reins back and do something else to feel good about yourself.


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Have your say!
  • Mauve
    June 26, 2012 | Permalink |

    I’m so glad to see that you guys at Lovepanky can call a spade a spade. What I love most about you guys is how frank and truthful you are about relationships.

    And seriously, that’s what makes you guys so awesome, and definitely the best relationships website in the world!! :-)

    I’ve been in many relationships in my life. My partner and I are very happy with each other, and have a perfect relationship. But all around me, I see my friends who are in relationships completely misunderstand the idea of a relationship. They don’t seem to understand what a marriage or a romantic relationship is all about.

    Just because you’re in a relationship doesn’t mean you need to change overnight. You can’t become a new person by the next morning just because someone proposed to you the earlier night. Of course, you should never hurt your partner knowingly.

    But flirting is natural. There is absolutely nothing wrong with enjoying a fun conversation with someone else even if you’re in a relationship. All of us do it anyway!! So really, people just have to stop behaving like such hypocrites. As long as your partner isn’t insecure and doesn’t mind you talking to someone attractive of the opposite sex, why should we restrict ourselves?

    Every time I try to explain this to my friends who are in relationships (they get annoyed each time they find that their partner has friended someone attractive on facebook), they think I’m crazy or that I’m trying to have an open relationship or become a swinger!

    We’re humans, and we instinctively stand up straight or smile more when we meet someone we find charming or attractive. It’s an instinctive thing. Instead of getting affected by it negatively, we need to feel more secure about our own relationships and understand our partners that they’re not going to run away with someone else just because they have one fun conversation with them.

    I just wish all lovers would read this well, and understand what the author is trying to say without jumping to conclusions. At the end of the day, love will triumph as long as both partners understand each other and get over their insecurities.

  • Michael
    August 17, 2012 | Permalink |

    I couldn’t agree more with Mauve.

    I’m in a relationship I’d like to make last forever. Now that I know she has strong feelings for me and vice versa, I want nothing more than for her to feel beautiful and adored. Flirting is a natural part of that process, and she is a damn good flirt. As we are in a long distance relationship, I encourage her to flirt, look beautiful when she goes out with the girls, and to go out with her guy friends. And as long as she lets them know she is in a relationship and not interested in being bedded, I’m cool with her accepting dates from new fellows that like her.

    I’d much rather have my partner feeling wanted and sexy than to have her frustrated over waiting till we see each other every few weeks,

    Lets ALL flirt… life would be so much more fun!

  • TheTruth
    September 8, 2012 | Permalink |

    Well written. Really, really enjoyed this piece. I agree with most, if not all of it. To me flirting is natural. i don’t feel offended by it when my partner does it, although she denies that she EVER flirts. I just laugh & keep quiet. I’m a flirt. How would I not know when she’s flirting? I’m not jealous about it. But she is. Wonder why? Is there something she’s not telling me?

  • Kyle
    December 14, 2012 | Permalink |

    Interesting thing about this article (like most) Note how all the links references to any and all insecure about flirting point to “men” or “guys”? This article would have a totally different POV if it were about how to get over your boyfriend’s flirty habits.

    When this website can include fair views on both sides and look a little bit less like a “how to get away with anything” domain for women, maybe it’s credibility will increase but so far, articles like these make women sound like manipulative tramps.

  • Laura
    January 7, 2013 | Permalink |

    I do believe some people are naturally flirty and friendly, but when it’s taken too far like talking dirty and keeping friendships with these people a total secret, that’s when it’s wrong. No matter what this article says.

  • Laura
    January 7, 2013 | Permalink |

    Also, what if the ‘insecure and jealous partner’ in question is that way BECAUSE of a history of being lied to by this guy who flirts with other girls in front of her. Sometimes feeling insecure or jealous isn’t a choice, it’s how we feel as a result of someone else’s blatant disregard for our feelings or confidence.

  • Rose
    January 23, 2013 | Permalink |

    I don’t know if I agree with this…Yes, there are plenty of times that I know my bf of 3 years casually flirted with people, just teases, nothing suggestive. But both of us get extremely jealous of who we talk to. Not too long ago, I wanted to have a non-flirty conversation with an ex, and I kept it hidden from my bf because I knew he would be jealous (as he had been a few months earlier when I brought up that I wanted to be friends with my ex). So I hid it and lied about who I was talking to for a week, until he asked me about it and I told him who it was. Of course he was hurt.
    During winter break, I went to Costa Rica for a class and came back Jan 13th. Apparently during this time, he started talking to a girl friend of his, but never mentioned it. But he was acting very secretive about his phone, and last night I just was looking through it because he has been ignoring my text messages, and me in general, a lot more lately. And he has taken my phone plenty of times before to look at who I was texting, so I can’t say I feel bad doing this. So I saw a few messages he sent to a girl we both know. He wanted to skype her (apparently to talk about our relationship, he later told me) but he kept obviously flirting with her. That was upsetting, but what upset me the most was that he said “If I could hold you right now, I would in a heartbeat.” I feel like that has completely crossed the line. I overreacted about the skyping texts, but he has done nothing but make me feel like he doesn’t care about me anymore. I’m sure I haven’t been the nicest either though, so I understand what he means. When I feel hurt, my immediate reaction is to stop the hurt, so I try to distance myself from him emotionally, because he is constantly hurting me and putting down my self-esteem. We have been virtually inseparable through our relationship, and because of that, a lot of my friendships were ruined by his jealousy. I never had to be jealous of anyone he talked to up until now, when he says that he’s not getting what he needs out of our relationship and feels like he may cheat on me if something doesn’t change. But he expects that calling me fat and constantly telling me how unattractive I am to him, is going to motivate me to want to be skinny for him. I completely overreacted last night, but I still feel like I can’t trust him. It’s one thing to be innocently flirting with friends, but that does not seem innocent to me, especially after he feels like I’m not giving him something he needs. Am I wrong to be upset about this? The girl didn’t seem to respond to him the way he wanted, but of course, he deleted the message, which just makes me feel like there was more to it that he didn’t want me to see. I love him, but I can’t stand this. I’m sure I overreacted to a text message, but I just feel like if I forgive him that he is just going to do it again.

  • Rutherford
    May 7, 2013 | Permalink |

    @Rose, you seem to be, or at least 5 months ago you were, in a toxic relationship, and if your boyfriend is how you describe him you would be well rid of him.

  • JB
    September 9, 2013 | Permalink |

    I am 30 years old. My now ex-gf is 22. We’ve been together for 8 months. I’ve never been happier in my entire life. She made clear to me that she felt the same way and we were inseparable. We were moving in together last weekend when she looked through my facebook messages while i was in the shower.

    I had been flirting pretty heavily and asking for snapchat pics with a girl I met on an airplane. Even though I had declared to myself that I would do anything for my girlfriend and she is all i want for the rest of my life, Why did I still find the need to be desired by other girls?

    I’ve found some solace in this article, but still not sure if I’ll have the chance to prove to her that she is truly the one i want to devote my life to making happy.

    FROM THE ARTICLE ABOVE:

    “”If you love your partner, it’s within your moral control to hold yourself back from going any further or cheating on them. Restrictions from outside won’t change anything. So if you must flirt to feel good about yourself, go right ahead, but always remember to give your partner the first preference and always avoid making them feel insecure or neglected.””

    Even if I myself know my true feelings, how can I expect someone else to believe what I’m telling them and not what they see with their own eyes?

    She is a very strong person and has blessed my life with her punctuality, intelligence, humor, wittiness and absolute pure beauty. After seeing my conversation with someone else, she told me that she doesn’t want to ever talk to me again.

    I know I hurt her immensely, and for that I don’t know if i’ll ever be able to forgive myself, when my main objective was to prove to her that i could make her happy forever.

    I want to give her space to reflect and hopefully at some point give me a chance to be back in her life, but i’m not sure if ill get it. Certainty is definately not something i deserve at this point, so i am willing to wait as long as it takes.

    I don’t know what else to do other than give her time and hope i’ll have an opportunity to show her that i meant everything i said from the bottom of my heart.

  • Christie
    October 26, 2013 | Permalink |

    what if his friend always put her hands on him and they hug. he spreads talking flirt with girls and with his eyes and face too. sometimes he wraps his hands around the girls. what if he always show interest to his coworkers and have fun flirty conversation with them. when i exist with them i sometimes feel ignored from him.
    i have insecurities and i cant deny this, but is it all me? isn’t it wrong if he does all this in front of me?

    He tells me he feels nothing when he does these flirts, he tells me this is his character. he tells me i’m special to him. but what i see is that he treats all girls really great too.

    i wanna trust him but what i see always trigger my jealousy and my madness and insecurity.
    it always happens.
    Should I fix myself or leave this relationship ? am i the wrong one ?

  • Barbie White
    December 15, 2013 | Permalink |

    What are you people all still in high school.. Sounds like this advice is for the people who are insecure and have low self esteem. Do you need that much attention, that you have to flirt in front of your mate, .We call that disrespecting one another. This has to be because of some lack of attention from your early days. Why should anybody think its ok to send dirty text to someone else thats not your partner, thats horrible and leading to a huge break up. Who ever wrote this column of advice has no morals and probably never been in love. Not impressed LovePanky

  • Christina
    January 28, 2014 | Permalink |

    I don’t think that flirting is okay to do in a relationship. I think that it is just an emotional boundary that is crossing the line. Obviously having a nice friendly conversation with the opposite sex is going to happen but flirting? Why? Why do you need that kind of attention from some one else? Why would you need to do that with someone other than your partner? I mean that is what your partner is for. It is disgusting how many people think that flirting is okay. As someone else said in the comments are you really in need of that much attention? I’m glad that I have found someone who agrees with me on this. I’m glad that I have a boyfriend who has the same views as me on what is loyal. I think that a lot of people do not know what being loyal means. I do not think that having a friendly conversation with someone is flirting. But saying something like you have beautiful eyes. I mean that is just pushing it.

  • Dva
    June 18, 2014 | Permalink |

    A friend told me just the other day about flirting, where it is just flirting, nothing serious, like I told the friend sometimes u may do that but u might just meet a crazy person where they won’t take that as just flirting, sometimes people take things different, I don’t do it because I don’t want to confuse no one, I will just say, Hello how r u, n I keep it movn

  • anonymous
    July 24, 2014 | Permalink |

    I’m a victim of flirting (not really victim, but I’m experiencing something)..
    There’s a guy at work whom I’ve had a crush on since day one. I realized that he’s got a gf so I never pursued it or mentioned anything or even showed signs. Then recently over the past few days he’s been joking around a lot in the office and stuff and he’s been very flirty with me outside work with texts and whatnot. We’ve not actually gone out and met physically outside of work for anything casual and it’s confusing me because I want to basically flirt back but I don’t want to cause issues with his current relationship.
    He seems to be in a good relationship for 2 years, but a lot of the other guys at work thinks he should find someone better (so I don’t know what’s going on there).
    Then yesterday, he tells me he’s confused because he’s enjoying our conversations but he’s confused because he also has a gf. Then I asked him what he’s confused about if he’s already happy… and he doesn’t know. I asked a lot of questions and there doesn’t seem to be anything wrong with his relationship… but he’s still confused. Now I’m confused because I don’t know what he’s trying to get at.
    Should I just tell him to stop messaging me?

  • Jay
    August 11, 2014 | Permalink |

    My ex used to flirt all the time I was always fine with it because I knew she was going home with me. However, it became a major problem for two reasons. First, on two occasions her flirting gave men the wrong impression and they became agressive and she nearly got me into fights. One guy she was flirting with followed her into the restroom and she started screaming, and the bouncers and I had to drag him out of the bar. Not a fun situation. The second problem that came of this was that if anyone even looked at me she would go into a jealous rage. It all became too much trouble and I was out of there. Now too much flirting has become a red flag to me and it never was an issue before. I just assume not waste my time.

  • John
    August 16, 2014 | Permalink |

    I was in a relationship with a woman who flirted she would comment on other men etc and I woukd women and this was ok while I felt securw but eventually the game got a bit much when see eyed other men a bit to much. She is a very attractive woman and everything was fine until she made a new male freind. I remember overacting and becoming way to insecure the 1st time I had heard from her they had hung out and gone for a dog walk together for a few hours during a time when I could not get hold of her although we had agreed to talk at that time I asked her what they had spoke about and she said things she cpuld not talk to me about. Shortly after this I went out with her and her new male freind and I lost it he had come to meet me and tried to shake my hand I told him where to go and asked what did he think he was doing spending time alone with my girlfriend. To add this is aftrr they had blatantly exchanged phone numbers and had been talking outside of our relationship for a while. At this point we were living quite far apart so I had become more insecure because of this and the fact our relationship was an affair as she was married but in the process of leaving her husband. As time went on I repaired the issue with this guy but found more evidence of him coming to the house while I was at home or at work at one point he had come over and put music on the laptop I had brought her I said nothing just wondered how long that took. I remember going over once and she was tidying her room with multiple wine glasses and dinner plates I just left it didnt say much. Then we went out again me her him her friends the whole night she pretty much ignored me paid him more attention and he kinda followed her around as well. At one point I look over to the bar and see her touching him talking closely to him and when we got back to her mates flat she sat next to him on the floor all night and only got up to shout at me and ask what was wrong when I was really pale and quite! Atone ppoint she got into a playfight with another male freind who was like a brother it honestly didn’t bother me but what did is when I got up to go to the loo he said jealous John?

    Now I wasn’t but it hurt they and she were playIng on my insecurity making it worse and it was a form of bullying. This other man would constantly text her at random times in the day and I started refering to him as her 2nd boyfriend to make light of it. Eventually tho I changed the distance and this new freindship made me to insecure once I asked to look at her phone all innocent from him but the damage was done. Me and him had an argument once via text a day later he showed my girlfriend what I had said. She often seemed to ignore my concerns doing things regardless of my feelings like this text incident came about when she stayed with her now ex husband over night at her house now I had just asked her not to drink to much but she got really drunk I was angry with her so my phone was off anyhow she rings this male freind who then messages me and I get message when my phone comes on I contact him saying this is what I mean about being 2nd best look at what she’s doing this is what he then shows her the next day.

    When our relationship wad breaking down she asked for more space at a restaurant I asked are we over she said no I need space due to this and that I agreed. She then goes on to say oh the waiter is fit. He then bends over behind me and she comments on his ass I dont react we leave I take her home after she randomly insists on walking but I take her anyhow (independent)? We kiss or she kisses me hard. I get home I feel like a prick after the restaurant incident I text her telling her how it made me feel she goes mad and says I ruined a perfect night!

    So is it right that she does that? Do I just disregard how thingd make me feel because flirting is a ok? Have you ever loved someone? I just find this odd I have integrity I dont need to flirt to a heavy extent to feel ok about myself but this girl would go to far with things. She would forget to mention she was in a relationship and once one of her other new male mates followed me to a tent we were staying at to ask me if we were together? After the fact he had met her and her soster at length especially the sister before and not once had she mentioned not only was she married but also already with another man me…. I felt betrayed by her sister as well in the end and I always felt she kept her options open I was never good enough.

    A lot more to this stor but the point is where do you draw the line! When is flirting actually abusiveand demeaning to your partner and when is it harmless fun? If one partner says they are a little uncomfortable with your flirting is it to much to ask to curtail it? We talk about controlling behaviour and jealously as being abusive but when is flirting and ignoring your partners concernsabuse? I fully admit in the end I was to insecure it got the better of me I was I was always jealous of otger men and how much they earnt and I have serious issues with self esteem. She knew this and openly told her friends I cld be insecure so then why and seemingly fan the fires of my problem? I have major issues now I am suicidal I wake up wishing I was dead and I can not get close to women. I think myself inferior to other men and because I am low paid this confirms said fear. I cant go to my local city through fear of seeing her and her new bloke. She got the house her husband lives with her mum now. She has a new man new friends a good job and I live at home hating myself . I miss her daily and think about her and what cld of been everyday I became abusive and almost got arrested at one point and if work found out I wld lose this low paid job. I caught her and that man sleeping in the same room together because I spied and saw it from a distance she denies it….. its ruined me and I helped ruin a mans marrage.

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