Relationship Connection: I’m married and can’t stop flirting with other women

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Question

I’m 75 years old, married, and I want to learn how to stop flirting with women. Do you have any suggestions you can give me?

Answer

Flirting may seem like harmless behavior, but when you’re married, it’s a betrayal to your spouse. Flirting sends a signal to the other person that you are available for romantic connection. It communicates that you’re engaging in a special relationship with them that you don’t share with other people.

I’m glad you want to set boundaries around flirting and protect your marriage. Your wife needs to know that you’re only there for her.

I don’t know how long you’ve been married to your wife, but I’m guessing that you don’t flirt with her anymore. I think flirting with your spouse is a small part of what makes marriage so special. It sends a signal to your wife that she is still desirable, that you only have eyes for her and that you want to get closer to her.

Those are important signals that cue your wife that she is secure and stable with you. When you’re freely giving these signals to other women, it devalues marriage and leaves your wife feeling rejected.

Flirting and friendliness are not the same thing. We should be warm and friendly with everyone. That’s just good manners. Flirting, on the other hand, is about trying to direct the relationship to somewhere more intimate. This can be communicated with body language, sharing personal details, spending private time together, touch, special favors and favoritism. Again, these are all signals that should be reserved for your wife.

Most married people who flirt are usually craving the stimulation of knowing that someone sees them and is responding to them. Flirting doesn’t have to end in a sexual affair to be damaging to a marriage. The infatuation, preoccupation and energy that is given toward the other person is all about getting something from someone else. It’s not genuine but instead, strategic.

You can stop flirting before you completely understand why you’re doing it. Knowledge isn’t the same as understanding, so it’s important for you to work on living faithful to your wife while you figure out your motives for flirting. Here are six ways you can begin setting limits on flirting:

  • Be honest with your wife about your flirting problem, sincerely apologize to her and commit to her that you will do everything in your power to eliminate this from your life. Chances are your wife already knows you have a problem with this and is deeply hurt by it. Don’t make excuses and don’t pretend that your behaviors are harmless for a man your age. Give your wife full confidence that she’s the only one and you’ll make this right.
  • Get professional help if this has been a problem for much of your life. You may have deeper emotional or attachment issues that make it hard for you to be completely faithful to your wife. Invite a professional into your life who can ask good questions, hold you accountable and help you understand yourself better.
  • Talk about your wife in a positive way with other people, especially other women. Always make sure to include something positive about your marriage, something you love about her and any other indicators that you are happily married.
  • Do not share personal things with other women. Don’t talk about personal or home problems or seek advice about these things from other women. Confiding is something that creates intimacy.
  • Pay attention to your body language and make sure it’s more closed than open. Don’t make prolonged eye contact or touch other women anywhere on their body; position yourself to lean away and be more closed. You can still be warm and professional. You can show someone that you’re interested in what they’re saying without inviting more closeness.
  • Avoid any situations where you are alone with the opposite sex. If flirting is a problem for you, then never put yourself in a situation where you’re alone with another woman. Make sure you have a friend, or even better, your wife around. You don’t need to have individual friendships with women. Any woman you want to befriend should be a friend to your marriage.

Even though you might set these boundaries around your behaviors, your flirting problem won’t end if you don’t develop some insight into what you need from flirting. Remember that flirting with someone who is not your spouse is more about what you can get from the other person than what you’re giving to her. As you set these limits, it will free you up to give your full love and attention to your wife.

Stay connected!

Geoff Steurer is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice in St. George, Utah. He specializes in working with couples in all stages of their relationships. The opinions stated in this article are his own and may not be representative of St. George News.

Have a relationship question for Geoff to answer? Submit to:

Email: geoff@lovingmarriage.com

Twitter: @geoffsteurer

Instagram: @geoffsteurer  

Facebook: facebook.com/GeoffSteurerMFT

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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10 Comments

  • comments September 26, 2018 at 7:35 am

    LOL, when I read the title I figured it’d be a guy in his 30s or something. But 75?! LOL!

  • Redbud September 26, 2018 at 8:16 am

    You’s a hoe!

  • ladybugavenger September 26, 2018 at 4:26 pm

    Lol! 75 huh. Creepy old man is what comes to mind. Are you flirting with 30 year olds? 40 year olds? Or 70 year olds?

    • comments September 26, 2018 at 4:53 pm

      Maybe what he means by “flirting” is he’s driving around in his van passing out candy and offering rides home to the young ladies. Now that there is creepy, LBA. 😉

      • ladybugavenger September 26, 2018 at 10:18 pm

        Old men are creepy

  • Happy Commenter September 26, 2018 at 6:41 pm

    Just stop, you’re a grown up. What is his definition of flirting? There was an awfully long answer provided considering the total lack of details as to what the 75 year old man was doing. Geoff, have you been taking rabbit trail lessons from bikeandfish?

  • Striker4 September 27, 2018 at 1:25 am

    I cant believe they even put this on St George news ….slow day at the office ?

  • Mike P September 27, 2018 at 11:57 am

    I find it harmless unless he’s taking it too far or he’s really serious. And no, I’m not in my 70’s !

  • Kilroywashere September 27, 2018 at 1:59 pm

    Striker I agree. Evolution dictates men are not monogamous by nature. Goes back to caveman days. So the saying men are dogs has a spark of truth to it. But a good man will restrain what comes naturally. And Ladybug how would it go over if I sincerely stated old women are creepy. Lol. Hope you are well.

    • ladybugavenger September 28, 2018 at 1:39 pm

      It’s kinda laughable to hear. I’m well, Thank you!

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