One of the things I hate about social media is spirituality and self-help memes. Of course they are not all bad, but I certainly come across a lot that are misleading or just plain wrong. The problem is that properly conveying spiritual truth is challenging with word counts that are as limited as they are on social media.
So to ease my frustration and do my part to correct the falsehoods being spread on the internet, I thought I would start a blog series called “Between You and Meme”. In this series I will take whatever meme has infuriated me and expand upon it.
Today’s selection is a meme I came across that simply said “Flirting is Cheating.” First of all let us define what cheating means. Cheating is anything that goes against the agreed upon conduct within a relationship. That means that all parties must have stated their requirements clearly, and all parties have agreed to abide by them. If someone breaks one of said agreements, then that constitutes cheating. While the definition of what cheating is is clear, the behaviors that amount to cheating are going to be different for each relationship.
Flirting however never counts as cheating. There are however two kinds of flirting that need to be understood. One is completely benign, the other a little more insidious. The first kind is innocent flirting. This is simply humans engaging in charming and playful ways. Adult play is inherently sexual, so innuendo and sexual content may be a part of innocent flirting. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this kind of flirtation.
You may say, “but it is a requirement for me for my partner not to flirt, so if they do they are breaking that agreement.” You would then argue that flirting counts as cheating. In fact, it is absolutely unreasonable to make a partner agree to never innocently flirt with another human being in this manner. That would be insisting that they cut themselves off from their natural and open expression. That is not love, that is control. You need to let it go and let them be human.
If you have agreed to not have emotional or sexual encounters outside of your relationship then it’s the second kind of flirtation that starts to be a red flag. This is flirting with intent. Innocent flirtation is an in the moment play with no intention to take it to another level. It’s all talk and no action. Flirting with intent involves an escalation to physical contact or makes future plans to meet up. It is a communication that the one flirting is open and available for more than just fun banter in a moment.
Even this second kind of flirtation isn’t actually cheating. It may be the precursor to cheating, but cheating it is not. Flirtation is not what leads to cheating by the way. Unmet needs in a relationship or someone avoiding commitment is what causes people to cheat. Rather than put too much focus on which way your partner is flirting with other people, start paying more attention to their needs and/or being honest about whether or not you are on the same page about what you want out of the relationship.
Honestly evaluating what the truth of the connection is and how everyone feels in it is a much better use of your energy than trying to stop your partner from ever flirting with another. That would be impossible anyway, and you’re just going to make yourself crazy trying.