Anita is outraged. She and her boyfriend are out dancing with a group of friends. She notices another woman checking out her guy – even though he’s obviously with Anita. At one point, the woman grabs Anita’s boyfriend and starts dancing with him. He is embarrassed but plays along and dances for a few minutes with her.
Later, Anita is mad at her boyfriend for continuing to dance with the other woman. She feels like he could have pushed her away or made a clearer statement that he’s in a relationship. The rest of the evening is ruined. Anita is continuously on the lookout for the woman who was so forward with her boyfriend. She worries that there’s more going on than she knows…
When it seems like another woman is flirting with or coming on to your man, things can get ugly and fast. Your jealousy gets triggered, and you begin to question what you think you know about your partner and your relationship. Is he really the victim of unwanted advances or is something else happening?
It doesn’t matter if you and your partner are at a bar, party, office event, out dancing or walking through your neighborhood. The two of you are enjoying one another’s company when – out of nowhere – another woman barges in. She runs up and hugs your guy or she rubs his shoulders and strokes his arm as she talks to him (and ignores you). Maybe she isn’t physically there, but has been texting him throughout the evening.
Your glares and “ahem’s” don’t seem to be getting through, and you feel jealous. It’s starting to seem that this other woman is trying to break you and your partner up!
Let’s be clear here. It’s not just other women who hit on men already in committed relationships. This opposite happens too. If you’re a heterosexual man in a monogamous relationship, it’s just as likely that another guy might try to pick up your woman. How you respond to someone else hitting on your partner can mean the difference between renewed trust and connection or more tension and distance in your relationship. Here are four do’s and don’t to remember.
1. Don’t confront the flirt. It is really tempting to let the other woman (or man) know that you don’t appreciate and will not allow this. Your first impulse may be to seek out the “tempter” or “temp-tress” and make it clear that your partner is taken! While this is understandable, it’s probably going to cause bigger troubles in your relationship. Here’s why…
You risk escalating the tension and conflict with the other person and in your relationship too; and You insert even more distance between you and your partner and miss an opportunity for healthy communication.
2. Don’t accuse. Pause, calm down and really think about it before you accuse your partner of breaking trust, betraying you or acting inappropriately. When you blame your partner without proof to back it up, you’re only going to drive him or her further away from you. Jealousy can bring accusations to your lips, so stay aware and really think before you talk about it. Accusations instantly put your partner on the defensive and are often inaccurate or don’t reflect the whole picture. So, unless you have verifiable and tangible proof that your partner broke trust, stop yourself before you make an accusation.
3. Do remember the facts. Get clear about the facts as you know them before you try to talk with your partner about what happened. When looking at facts, double check what you think you know and rely on information that is trustworthy. How many texts did your partner and the other woman exchange? Was there a valid reason for the exchange? What exactly did your partner say and do when the other woman hugged him? Don’t get side-tracked by what the other person said or did. Pay closest attention to facts about how your partner responded to being hit on.
4. Do create clear agreements. Conscious and specific agreements can positively transform your jealousy and a difficult situation. With an agreement in place, the next time someone seems to be hitting on your partner, you two will have a plan for how to de-fuse the situation and return to enjoying being together. If your partner dismisses the flirting (or whatever is going on) as “no big deal” and refuses to create an agreement with you, remain calm and stay focused on the facts. Arguing about this isn’t going to solve the problem or bring you ease.
Instead, shift your request to concrete ways you two can keep your connection strong. This might be an agreement to periodically check in with each other at a party by making eye contact or to text one another at lunch. You can also choose to set a boundary to make clear what you believe is appropriate and what is not. If your partner crosses that boundary, your decision then might be whether or not you will stay in the relationship.
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