Are You a Big Enough Flirt?

I’ve been noticing that there is a lot of flirting in my marriage relationship, and it made me curious.  I wondered.  Where does our ability to flirt come from?  Why is it so common in dating?  Is flirting only good for young couples or does it help every couple?

So I did some quick research and found some answers.

The first surprise was that our flirting starts out when we are very young.  Maybe you’ve noticed it in babies and small children?  They will look at you and then look away, then peek back and smile.  At a young age some of us are very accomplished at flirting and being coy.

Those who research flirting believe it is instinctual.  That we know intuitively how to do it.  And these same researchers have confirmed that flirting is common in all societies worldwide.

Muslim Couple Flirt

What does that mean? That if you have ever been a flirt, you are in good company.


Why Do Humans Flirt?

So, why do humans flirt?  Research indicates that flirting is much more than just a bit of funit is a universal and essential aspect of human interaction.  And the underlying reasons are clear.

Flirting is a subtle way we can get attention from someone else and at the same time, say we find something attractive about them. Rather than taking the risk of rejection, we often use flirting as a low risk way to establish an initial connection with someone and test the waters..  And as we we flirt, we communicate 1) We value them, 2) We want them to know it and 3) We would like to connect.  Essentially, flirting is a request for attention from someone else.  We are saying “engage with me”.  And in marriage the issue of engaging with each other is a common struggle where flirting might help.

As married couples, we tend to struggle with familiarity toward our spouse.  Often we treat each other worse than we would treat a stranger.  When we do this, it leads to more and more isolation. We repeatedly offend each other and then retreat from real conversation and caring.  If that’s the case, flirting is probably rare in your relationship.

So how could flirting more, benefit a marriage?

The Value of Flirting in Marriage

First, as we’ve noted, flirting helps married couples maintain a sense of connection and intimacy. It keeps the romantic spark alive. And it reminds both spouses of their attraction to each other.  Flirting also adds an element of playfulness and fun to the relationship.  It creates moments of joy and excitement, helping to break the routine and monotony of daily life.

Often when I flirt with Lou Ann it becomes sort of ridiculous.  But that makes it more real and it creates some funny memories when our flirting falls flat or fails.

As we flirt, we use non-verbal cues and playful banter. This increases our daily communication.  Regular flirting also encourages us to express our feelings, desires, and affection in a lighthearted manner.  Plus, regular flirting makes us more aware that there is something special about our relationship.  Something we don’t have with others.

Flirting is a great way to express appreciation and admiration with our spouse.  It reaffirms that we find them attractive and desirable, even after years together.  And for most couples, regular flirting builds anticipation and desire leading to sexual intimacy and romance.

So what have we seen? That flirting in marriage is a way to nurture and enhance the relationship, keeping the love and passion alive over time.  Being a good flirt in marriage can be an essential part of maintaining a healthy and thriving partnership.  But flirting often fades over time.

Why Flirting Dies

There are at many reasons why flirting dies in a marriage.

Often we assume that flirting is for new relationships. We decide it is an immature approach to use once we are married.  And we feel that we’ve moved beyond that childish phase.  But deep inside, we always need to be reminded that we are needed and valued.  Especially from our spouse.

The most popular reason we stop flirting is familiarity.  We become more comfortable and familiar with each other and we lose the sense of wonder about our spouse.  The deep appreciation we had for them during dating is replaced by our taking them for granted.  A second contributing issue is that the speed and pressures of life impact our flirting.  We can feel like we don’t have the time and energy for playful interactions like flirting.  Life becomes more serious and the play dies.

Another common reason we stop flirting is because of unresolved hurts.  Married couples often offend each other.  If they don’t work through those offenses intentionally, then resentment builds up.  That leads them to becoming more cautious about flirting.  Why?  They fear that it might lead to fresh conflict.

For many of us, we assume that our spouse “knows” we appreciate them. So we take the easy route and stop making the extra effort.  We can excuse it because we think our spouse already knows. We can believe that all that is needed is to bring home a paycheck. Or clean up the dishes each night. Or do our share of chores around the house.

Those are good things. But which of these emphasize how much we value our spouse? 

Have you ever noticed in restaurants the stereotypical “bored” couples?  As they eat, they look at their phones or chew their food but don’t speak to each other.  They may look around but there is no sense that they appreciate the time with each other.  You wonder.  If one of them disappeared would the other notice?  Maybe the remaining spouse would just continue with their meal while looking at their phone.  I think it is sad. These are couples who’ve lost their way.

A final thing I’ve noticed about flirting is the impact of social norms.  In some families (and cultures) overt displays of affection are (or were) discouraged.

If we grew up in a family where the public display of affection (PDA) was not modeled, we may bring that into our relationship.  This is an inherited behavior. We need to use fresh eyes to examine whether our lack of PDA is building up our marriage or wearing it down.  So talk about it with your spouse and do the right thing, even if it is initially uncomfortable!

Digging Deeper

As I’ve studied flirting, I’ve become convinced that it is a God-given skill. And it is designed to help us expand our marital intimacy.  I encourage you to discuss, with your spouse, what is best for you both.

  • Discuss how you flirted when you were dating.  What was fun about it?

  • Which flirting do you still practice?  What flirting has stopped?

  • Discuss what you consider “good flirting” at your current age.

  • How do you ensure that flirting is not always just a prelude to sex?

In the same way, you husbands must give honor to your wives.
Treat your wife with understanding as you live together.
She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal partner in God’s gift of new life.
Treat her as you should so your prayers will not be hindered.
1st Peter 3:7 (NLT)

Final Words on Flirting

Flirting is a great method of communication for our marriages. Use it to deepen your intimacy.
Experiment with the type of flirting that works for you both.  And have fun doing it, even if you feel goofy at it.
Finally, realize that not every spouse is skilled at picking up social cues. And flirting can feel awkward at first. But make the effort, and with practice, it will become more natural and fun.

Let me know if you have suggestions or ideas that work for you two!

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