Why Attached Men Flirt, With You

Friday, May 22, 2009 9:00
Posted in category Ask Rickhead
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Post written by Rick Doyle and Dave Coleman (See Relationships page for author information)

Why Attached Men Flirt, With You

Dear Rickhead: My question, or problem, is that my friends’ husbands and boyfriends keep hitting on me behind their backs.  I don’t do anything to contribute to or encourage this behavior, so why does it keep happening? 

                                               –  Miranda

Dear Miranda: First of all, the fact that these men are flirting behind their wives or girlfriend’s backs is deceitful and they must feel as if they can safely flirt with you.  Even though you assert that you are doing nothing to “encourage their behavior,” they obviously feel secure enough that you won’t tell on them.  They evidently lack any fear that you will “snitch” to their significant other or else they are so captivated with you that they simply don’t care if you do. It would also appear by their advances that attached, committed, married are not exactly being honored or for that matter even recognized by anyone but you. We will look at some options for you to help your girlfriend.

A second reason is that you are available and they are not.  What  men and women want more than anything else is what they cannot have.  The moment something is declared forbidden, we desire it all the more.  This clouds our judgement and sensible thinking.  It is desire that leads us to say and do things that are uncharacteristic for us.  Some men and women walk a very thin line when flirting can easily tip to cheating. They are attached by choice or paper but in their head they are operating out of lust and other chemically motivated urges without respect or regard for their prior commitments. (Some people have a tough time figuring out the difference between being in love versus being in heat)  You may also possess personal or physical qualities that are absent or decaying in their spouses or significant others. These men may be in unhealthy relationships and want out, but be unable to find the proper way to “escape” or repair their damaged relationships. They are exercising only one of many options and a bad one at that, they need help as much as your girlfriend needs help.

The passion is most likely either dead or dying in their present relationships and you may ignite passion or emotion in them.  They may even use you as a barometer to gauge whether they “still have it”, assuming they ever “had it” to begin with!  Few things are more intense than a male ego in need of a dose of reassurance.  There is nothing like being served divorce papers to remind one that attached and broken could cost half.  It never fails to astound me that any decent attached men can not see that to break off a relationship cleanly and completely BEFORE going grazing would be not only the right thing to do but would certainly improve the odds of a new love interest giving them any respect. Who wants to be treated as the “other one”?

You may be exhibiting signs, either intentionally or unwittingly, that you are receptive to their advances.  It’s a natural human reaction to be flattered when someone shows interest in you.  Engaging with these men in excessive eye contact, smiling or banter may give them all the hope they need, even if you didn’t intend it to be taken that way. Your not being attached allows you to send cues unconsiously because your not attached, you are available thus sending cues to some degree is automatic. Happily married or attached, committed partners do not put out those signals, in fact they probably put out the opposite flirt signals, NOT available!  In healthy relationships the cheating or flirting are options that do not get put into action.  Their is a big difference between briefly entertaining a fantasy in your head versus making a pass at your wife’s girlfriend.

Where and when are you speaking to these men without their partners present?  Are they contacting you via the phone, texting, email or chat rooms?  The more you communicate with them, the greater the odds it will reoccur.  You may even begin to develop feelings for them since more time spent with them makes the heart grow fonder.  When two people are flitrting it only takes one to cross the line for many to get hurt especially when we are talking about already attached men. Distance will help but your girlfriend might suspect something or even wonder what she has done to drive your friendship away.

Without knowing you, I’ll venture to say that you are an attractive, outgoing, warm and compassionate woman –all qualities that would captivate such men.  We also presume that many of the men currently flirting with you were married or committed at a young age and are now restless.  Remember, if a man cheats on a woman the odds are highly likely that he will cheat on her again and again.  What we practice, we become good at.  So, if men covertly communicate and flirt with other women behind their significant other’s back, they will eventually do the same with someone new.

Spend more time with your significant other if you have one.   If you don’t, that might be part of the problem.  Then, flirting would be off limits for you as well, at least in theory.  If you truly want the behavior to cease, make it clear to these men that their advances are unwelcome, that you have no interest in them, and reduce the opportunities they have to flirt with you by communicating with them only when their wives or girlfriends are present.  If you are friends with the wife or girlfriend of these men that so badly want to stray you do have a couple of other options that might not feel too great but are worth considering. 

Option one: Tell your friend, with very specific examples so as to not have any misunderstanding, that your interest is NOT in their significant other who is trying to cozy up to you but is in your friend’s best interest that their relationship is not one consisting of healthy two way monogamy.  While you want to be clear, be kind. This is very hard news to deliver, as well as receive, and yet would you want to be cheated on repeatedly while thinking everything is okay?  Wouldn’t you want your friend, if they KNEW something that was wrong with your spouse or relationship, to tell you as soon as they knew it?  I’m sure that if your focus is “how can I help my friend” you will find some options her that help, even if they hurt. Some will be grateful for the news so they can address the situation or bail, and some will not receive it so well. Some people whom you deliver this bad news to will resent the messenger more than the message itself and chances are they are not going to accept what you say.  They may be far to attached to their current lifestyle or unhealthy relationship and unwilling or unable to look at closing it no matter what their partner is doing.  They will probably have a history of unhealthy relationships, abuse, staying with losers and their low self esteem and unhealthy core issues will make them stay with the cheater no matter what.  In these cases there is nothing you can do but love ’em or leave ’em (your friend that is) with a phone number of a good therapist.

Option two: Don’t tell your friend, which is what many people do and you still may not feel good about it.  If you decide to stay silent, set up the best boundaries you can between your friend’s significant other and yourself.  Keep in mind that your friend may eventually find out from another source and may get even angrier at you for knowing and not telling them while letting them continue to be cheated on. They may also choose to continue in the unhealthy relationship EVEN AFTER they know what is going on. Again a recommendation of a good therapist and maybe even a tough divorce attorney may be in order. 

You may find that neither of these options are for you and you may instead choose to just give up the relationship with the friend.  But on a personal note, my friends would not let me eat poison without saying something to me first. Most of my friends would rather speak up, help me before I was in need of emergency care rather than rush me to the hospital after the fact.  While I might be hurt or angry with them for telling me that my fabulous meal is really a rotten egg, later on I would be glad I only threw out a meal instead of ending up with my stomach pumped.  I hope this helps.

Please feel free to share your stories and opinions.

To Ask Rickhead a question, please email: askrickhead [at] topicisland [dot] com








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18 Responses to “Why Attached Men Flirt, With You”

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