Are You a Habitual Or an Effective Flirt?

Do you think that people who flirt have higher or lower self esteem than average? Habitual flirters tend to have lower self esteem than average. The important element in this question is the “habitual” nature of the flirtation. A degree of flirtation is desirable, and possibly even necessary, in everyday encounters with members of the opposite sex. When flirtatious behavior is used in inappropriate situations or directed toward unsuitable persons, the behavior takes on a neurotic character wherein the flirtation becomes an overcompensation for unresolved emotional conflicts that have produced low self esteem.

Effective flirtation actually takes a good deal of self esteem. Shy or schizoid personality individuals are incapable of it, as are overly inhibited obsessive compulsive types. People whose childhood was devoid of rich imaginary play experiences will likely be unable to participate in the role playing that flirtation requires. Those people who feel they have little to offer other than their physical allure or who need constant reassurance of their sexual desirability may devote an inordinate time and effort to flirtation, at the expense of developing more rewarding interpersonal relationships or of performing effective work. And there are those who use flirtation not as a means of social interaction but as a device for controlling or exploiting others. As with so many types of human behavior, a healthy, pleasurable type of expression can be perverted into neurotic activity by changing the goal.

Almost all people enjoy being flirted with. Both sexes enjoy it equally because being the object of flirtation makes us feel good about ourselves. Even if we are married or committed emotionally to someone flirtation enables us to get additional validation from other sources, which adds to our self esteem. Unlike seduction, flirtation does not exploit us for mere libidinal gratification. It is an interchange with strict and definite boundaries, but within those boundaries we can exchange admiration and regard.

Flirtation provides intimacy with safety–a commodity not easy to come by in these complex times. It is a rare woman who will not appreciate, if tastefully proffered, a tribute to her charms, even if it fails to encompass her apparent mental and professional attributes. Flirtation offers satisfactions beyond those of simple seduction or intellectual appraisal. Flirtation has given pleasure to so many people over so many centuries it will continue for many years to come.

Occasionally, flirtatious behavior can threaten a marriage. But if flirtation is an important part of normal social interaction, we would not expect flirtatious behavior to change abruptly after marriage, although many spouses do curtail flirting to avoid marital conflicts. The really important question with regard to marital harmony is probably not how much flirtation goes on outside the marriage, but how much is maintained within the marriage. Where partners continue to compliment one another and affirm continuing sexual attraction (an example of on-going marital flirtation and romance was provided by the old television show Hart to Hart), jealousy is not to be aroused by occasional flirtatious behavior toward acquaintances. Where there is indifference and poor communication within the marriage, any show of attention to outsiders is bound to stir up deep resentment.

Most secure spouses will accept the flirtatious behavior of their mates toward others with the composure of the wife who said, “I don’t worry about my husband’s flirting. My dog chases cars all the time, but it’s just a game he plays. If he ever caught one, he wouldn’t know what the heck to do. He’d lose interest and just walk away, Game over.”

Bottom Line:

  • Flirtation provides intimacy with safety.
  • Flirtation helps us feel humanly connected and appreciated.
  • Continue flirting with your partner after marriage to keep the romance alive.

Source by Dr. Ilona Tobin

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