As couples, maintaining a healthy and committed relationship can be tricky. You want to have fun, feel desired, and deepen the connection with your partner—but where do you draw the line between good-natured flirting and betrayal? Flirting has long been assumed to be an integral component of romantic relationships; however, when it moves beyond playful banter and starts to border on something more serious or intimate—like sharing secrets or exchanging flirtatious messages—it could signal a potential breach of trust in your relationship.

So how do we reconcile these feelings with our commitment to one another? In this blog post, we’ll explore what constitutes flirting and infidelity in relationships so that you can determine if it’s time for a conversation with your significant other.

What is considered cheating?

I believe that the couple gets to determine what they consider infidelity. That is why it is important to understand each other, be honest about expectations while dating, and continue the conversation over time. A good starter conversation is: what do you consider cheating? Are you into polyamory or monogamy? Are you comfortable with your partner being friends with exes?  Many couples have landed in my office because they did not start being open and honest about their needs and desires in a relationship.

What’s the harm in flirting?

Flirting can be innocent. However, if you are flirting in a committed relationship, you are leaving yourself open to the opportunity to cheat, as you do not know what the other person has in mind. In addition, you may be rightfully accused of being selfish and not considering your partner’s feelings. Likewise, relationship research shows that most affairs are likely to start off as harmless flirting.

Flirting can be the catalyst for emotional relationships to form.  Emotional cheating is when a person in a relationship shares emotions with an outsider that should be reserved for your partner. This is because we share parts of ourselves to bond and connect with our loved ones; it’s science! It is one of the more overlooked forms of cheating, but some would say that emotional cheating is worse than physical.

Why it’ll be hard for a couple to get therapy while having outside relationships? 

Having an extra person involved (non-consensually) in your relationship can be emotionally injurious. In addition, when you are involved in an outside relationship, to be in couples therapy or marriage counseling is a lie. If a person has a desire to lose weight, starts working out. However, they still eat pies and cakes 2-3x daily, demonstrating that they are not ready for their weight loss journey, as they are engaging in the things that keep them stuck. Similarly, you cant come to couples therapy, hoping to work on your relationship if your effort and attention are split. 

Relationships are complex, and managing flirting or to admit infidelity can be challenging. Everyone’s circumstances are different, and knowing what’s best for you is key. Remember, with any relationship advice, it’s important to remember that communication is essential in building trust. First and foremost, if flirting or instances of infidelity have occurred, open dialogue between partners is essential to move forward healthily.

Don’t forget those support systems are vital when addressing any relationship issue. Talking to trusted friends or family can offer a non-judgmental view on handling matters as they unscrew. Don’t be afraid to seek professional help if needed– therapy can be incredibly beneficial if a couple needs an unbiased third-party opinion on their individual goals for returning balance to the relationship after flirting or infidelity has been discovered. Whatever course of action you choose, ensure that your future in your relationship lies firmly within your own hands rather than someone else’s influence. Contact us today and take control back into your own hands now!

About the Author 

Roma Williams is a licensed marriage and family therapist and supervisor (LMFT-S) and the founder of Unload It Therapy in Houston, Texas. She has over a decade of experience in the mental health field, with a history of providing counseling services to individuals, couples, families, and groups. Roma brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her practice. Her warm and empathetic approach to therapy has transformed the lives of countless clients who have sought her guidance. Roma is now also committed to helping to usher in the next generation of compassionate, responsible therapists through the weekly supervision she provides to the therapists of Unload It Therapy.

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