Flirting After Commitment
Committed couples flirt for different reasons than dating couples. Sometimes, established couples think flirting is for singles only or couples without children. This can lead to them both feeling unattractive and bored with the relationship. They need to work at keeping the relationship stable and at deepening their intimacy. Flirting is part of this process.
Couples sometimes say to me they are afraid to flirt because she is afraid of being called a tease and he is afraid of leading her on if he is not prepared to go farther These couples need to learn that if they start at 'A' they don't have to go to 'Z'. They must give their partner permission to say no at any point; it is a start-stop process.
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Doing It With Style
Too often, committed couples stop flirting and just get right into sex. Others may experience difficulty with sex and stop flirting altogether. But flirting makes sex more successful and the relationship more exciting and intimate. Flirting is also a way of testing the waters. If you are interested and you don't know if your partner is, you can flirt.
Committed couples often need to be more direct in their flirting. More than one client has told me that he or she expressed interest in sexual activity but the signal was not recognized. For some couples, giving your partner a kiss and extending it a little to see if they respond beyond a peck is all that is needed. For others, it takes something as direct as, "Hey sexy, you look so nice. Are you interested in doing a little fooling around?"
To start flirting, make overtures in a place where you can't do much more. Playing "footsie" in a restaurant is exciting precisely because something can't happen. Some couples find a word that only they understand to mean "let's make love." Then, at a party, they find ways to use it in their conversations when their partner is around. The need to flirt doesn't disappear when a relationship gets serious. Just the style of flirting changes.
Dr. Karen Gless, PhD, is a licensed marriage and family therapist and a registered nurse who has spent over 20 years applying the latest scientific discoveries to the practical realities of helping couples in trouble. She specializes in sex therapy and has developed Couples Emotional Process Therapy. She has written many articles on relationships, appeared on TV shows, given internet interviews and has even been quoted in Cosmopolitan Magazine.
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