What Is Inappropriate Flirting When Married?

My Questions and Answers | | Expert Author , Mental Health & Relationship Counselorℹ️
Updated On: March 20, 2024
what is inappropriate flirting when married
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What is inappropriate flirting when married? This is a question that is answered differently by everyone. While some women are okay with their husbands naturally charming their way into every room, others don’t even want them exchanging kind pleasantries with other women. Marriage is somewhat at a crossroads with healthy and harmless flirting. Is it right or not? And how much of it is okay?

A reader posed an important question to us about the same and we brought an expert on board to answer it for her and for all of us. Counseling psychologist and certified life-skills trainer Deepak Kashyap (Masters in Psychology of Education), who specializes in a range of mental health issues, including LGBTQ and closeted counseling, helps us understand what is inappropriate flirting when married.

Why Do Married Men Flirt?

Q: My husband has a glad eye and he makes it obvious every time we go out or have company. While most of the social flirting is acceptable to me, I don’t like it when he tends to linger a little too long at a party with a young woman or leans over to talk to her. Charming a group of women is okay with me, but being married and flirting like this one-on-one with someone is not something I am completely on board with. Am I being paranoid?

From the expert:

Ans: Thank you for your question today. Let me give you a little insight as to why do people indulge in flirting when married. Compulsive flirting, if that’s what your husband is exhibiting signs of, is a signal that the person doesn’t feel ‘enough’ and has a deep-seated need to be liked and loved by many people, especially the one desirable to him.

flirting when married
Men who are married but want to flirt do so for various reasons

Flirting is essentially our species’ way of sizing each other up in order to possibly pursue an alliance of sexual or romantic nature. It’s a way of gauging sexual compatibility. However, for a lot of people, the process in itself is quite gratifying. They may not want to pursue the trail any further than the reassurance they get from being flirted back with.

When someone lets you flirt with them and/or flirts back, that person is indirectly and subconsciously choosing to spend an intimate psychological space with you. In that space, both of them make each other feel important and desired on many levels. Romantic interest is the highest reward your brain experiences as nothing says, “You are worthy of existence”, as a flirtatious smile with a shy twinkle in two people’s eyes.

Related Reading: Flirting With Your Eyes: 11 Moves That Almost Always Work

Married men who flirt is not necessarily a cause for worry, says the expert

Why do married women and men flirt with other people? A lot of it is unfortunately but quite evolutionarily speaking, dependent on the newness and unpredictability of a person and their responses. Husbands and wives, or long-term couples, quite invariably and to their surprise find things and responses quite painfully predictable. To top it, a lack of sex and relationship education means that we have no learning on how to keep each other interested in long-term relationships (LTRs).

Hence, it is hard to flirt with someone you’ve known for ages and who has shared the most boring, intimate and exciting parts of their lives with you. That’s precisely why one may engage in harmlessly flirting outside of marriage. Having explained flirting, I do want to say that you should not take this personally, but also don’t shy away from raising this as a concern to your husband in the most non-accusatory manner that a couple can muster.

Do share with him your own idea of what is inappropriate flirting when married and openly express your concern to him. Communicating how you feel, might help him look at his behavior differently and he might even be able to understand better the dangers of flirting when married. At this point, we are not even sure if he is aware of his behavior and how it is bothering you.

Talk to him, or write to him if you think talking might be a problem. As far as being paranoid is concerned, you have to remind yourself that you are a complete human being and your entire happiness doesn’t depend on your husband and his roving eyes. Understanding on your part and non-blaming communication will help a lot in this case. Best wishes.

The Dangers Of Flirting When Married

Some people are just winsome that way. They walk into a room and you can’t help but sigh and think, “Casanova!” To some people, charming a room and flirting their way in comes very naturally. Others might do it to enjoy the attention and validation that comes with it. As the expert, Deepak Kashyap has already cleared what some of the causes are for people to be married but want to flirt, Bonobology will take it away from here and tell you a little more about the dangers of flirting when married.

Married women flirting or married men who flirt have their reasons. But how can those things negatively impact their marriage? Let’s take a look.

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1. Ever heard of emotional infidelity?

Yes, emotional cheating is a very, very real thing. And if you are not careful about setting boundaries, your partner may be indulging in it right in front of your eyes under the pretext of ‘harmless flirting’. They’re not doing anything that constitutes cheating in the strictest sense of the word, but it’s enough to know that they’re emotionally getting invested elsewhere.

If your partner is flirting when married, it only takes a few moments for it to cross a line. That’s why it is always good to establish in a relationship what is inappropriate flirting when married. Do you draw the line at touching? Or do you think flirting away in a corner is too much? Think about all these things because if you don’t, you may just let your partner get away with emotional cheating.

Related Reading: Does An Emotional Affair Count As ‘Cheating’?

2. It can make other people start raising their eyebrows

If you’re one of those socialite couples who go out often and has a reputation to maintain, then this is the one for you. Do you really want to be seen as one of those husbands or wives that need to put their spouse on a leash every time they go out? What if one day it crosses a line and you are forced to create a scene?

Having a charming husband is flattering for the first few times. But if it gets repetitive, it also becomes embarrassing. Think about it. He’s married and flirting away like there’s no tomorrow. And to top it off, that woman is flirting right back with your husband. That ought to make you two look bad.

3. It will hurt the other partner

No guesswork here. It’s pretty obvious that married women or married men who flirt constantly will definitely have an unhappy spouse. The other spouse may brush it off the first few times but it will certainly leave a dent in your relationship. Just because they’re quiet now, doesn’t mean they’re not noticing it.

How to know what is inappropriate flirting when married? All it takes is the other partner’s reaction to it. The other partner is definitely going to start feeling neglected in a relationship overall as well. Is it really worth it?

With that, we come to an end of all the dangers associated with flirting with others when you are married. If you or your spouse do it often, we hope we’ve given you a little something to think about. No, we don’t think flirting is bad. We just think it should be done well within its boundaries.


1. Is it cheating to flirt if married?

Being married and flirting is not technically cheating but it can cross over into the emotional cheating realm quite quickly. One may think that they’re just chatting someone else up and having a good time but if an emotional connection develops, it could be considered cheating.

2. Is flirting while married wrong?

That is honestly up to the couple to decide and take a call on. Some couples are okay with it and it is normal for the married woman to flirt with someone else. Similarly, even if the husband does it, the wife does not raise an issue with it. But there are serious dangers of flirting when married which is why some couples choose to refrain from it altogether.

3. What is crossing the line in flirting?

Flirting for the sake of having a lively chat is one thing. But when that flirting turns more serious and emotional, one could be crossing the line. Also, things such as too much touching are considered crossing a line when indulging in healthy flirting with someone.

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