Love, marriage, and commitment; they are goals so many people are striving towards, looking for the happily ever after they have dreamed about since children. What most people don’t realize as those dreams are formulated, however, is that even with the purest of loves -- there will still be moments of attraction to other people. Flirtations and crushes can be normal, but how do you know when a line has been crossed?
If you find yourself wanting to hide some flirty details from your spouse, the flirtation has likely already gone too far, explains Therese J. Borchard, associate editor of Psych Central and author of “The Pocket Therapist: An Emotional Survival Kit,” in the Psych Central Article “When Does Flirting Become Cheating? 9 Red Flags.” As long as you are comfortable talking to your significant other about conversations you have been engaging in and encounters you have had, things likely haven’t gone too far. Deleting text messages or utilizing a private email account to converse with your crush are both clear signs that you know you have something to hide, though.
While having friends of the opposite sex can be perfectly healthy, even in a committed marriage, you should never prioritize your opposite sex friends over your spouse, according to Sharon Rivkin, marriage and family therapist, in the Two of Us article, “Opposite Sex Friendships.” This type of prioritizing can present itself in several different ways. Blowing off your anniversary to catch a drink with your crush or continuing a friendship when you know it makes your significant other uncomfortable, for instance, can indicate you are choosing to elevate this relationship above the importance of your marriage.
Most crushes and flirtations are harmless, so long as there is a level of physical and emotional distance which is maintained, explains Gina Barreca, Speaker and Professor of Feminist Theory, in the Psychology Today article, “Flirtation? Crush? Emotional Affair? Affair?” If you find your flirtation is starting to escalate into more physical territory or if you reach for the phone to call your crush when something exciting or sad happens, rather than reaching out for your spouse, you have likely failed to maintain that distance. It might be time to institute a break between you and your flirty friend, if only to regain perspective and start working on preserving your marriage.
The minute your flirtation begins to evolve into a relationship where you dish about issues with your spouse, it has gone too far, according to Borchard. No matter what troubles you and your significant other are having, the person you already have a flirty relationship with is not the one you should be turning to. Keep the details of your marriage private and off-limits, choosing to protect what you have from any potential misconceptions.