by Laura R., a loveisrespect advocate
Please note: This article is intended for individuals who are in healthy relationships. We do know that setting boundaries and communicating honestly with an abusive partner is not always safe or possible. If you’re unsure if your relationship is healthy, check out our relationship spectrum or reach out to one of our advocates to talk.
Does the title of this blog feel familiar to you? You’re hanging out with your partner and a group of their friends and everyone is having a great time chatting and laughing. However, you’ve noticed that one of your partner’s friends is being a bit “overly friendly” and keeps making flirtatious comments towards them. Generally, people are taught to view this exchange as suspicious and a red flag to cheating; and many people are told that jealousy or being possessive towards one’s partner is “sweet and romantic,” even though jealousy and possessiveness are not healthy for any relationship. It can be difficult to see someone else flirting with your partner, and you may not know what do to next. Don’t worry, in this blog post we’ll talk about how to handle these flirtations in healthy ways.
Many people express that it is frustrating or hurtful when someone else flirts with their partner, and feeling that way is totally natural. However, it’s not healthy or fair to get upset with your partner for how other people act around them or to blame your partner for what other people say to them. Everyone is responsible for only their own actions. This means that your partner’s friends are responsible for their actions, and your partner is not responsible for their friend’s actions (because other people’s actions are not something someone can predict or control). Your partner is only responsible for what they choose to do in response to their friend’s behavior.
When feeling jealous or insecure, you might want to ask your partner to simply stop hanging out with a flirtatious certain friend, but this is an unfair and controlling expectation. Your partner has the right to decide who they want to have as friends in their life, and it is unhealthy to try to dictate who they can and cannot spend time with. It’s also never ok or acceptable to go through your partner’s phone or check their messages to see if their friends have been flirting with them. Everyone deserves digital privacy in a relationship and it’s not okay or healthy to invade a partner’s privacy if you’re suspicious of flirting.
So, what do you do if someone else has been flirting with your partner? How can you address your hurt feelings in a healthy way? To start, it’s important that you trust your partner. When you fully trust your partner, you are choosing to believe that even if someone else flirts with them, they will respect the boundaries of the relationship they have with you. Of course, every relationship has different boundaries, so it can be a good idea to talk about this and set up those boundaries early on in a relationship. If there is a lack of trust in the relationship, it is going to be very challenging to feel secure in the relationship, especially if you’re seeing someone flirt with your partner. Trust is essential to having a healthy relationship, and if you feel like you’re having difficulty trusting your partner then it’s important to address that issue first. If you feel like no matter what you just cannot trust, then it may be time to think about whether this relationship is right for you or not.
It’s also equally important to be honest with your partner and talk with them about how you’re feeling. We know that open communication is another big essential to having a healthy relationship. As you’re communicating your feelings with your partner, it may be helpful to re-examine boundaries in the relationship and discuss what your wants and needs are. Jealousy is often a sign that a need is not being met. You might ask yourself- is there something that you are seeing your partner do with others that want them to do with you as well? Do you feel like you’re spending enough quality time with your partner? Do you feel like you’re still connecting and engaging with them? Questions like these can be helpful to think about when you’re feeling unsure or insecure in a relationship, and it can be useful to talk through these concerns with your partner so you can work on them together.
Speaking of communication, many people also want to reach out to their partner’s friend about any flirting concerns. Whether you do this or not is really going to depend on how close you are with that friend. If you are close friends with this person, it’s totally fine to talk with them one on one and explain how you’re feeling about their behavior. Friendships can have a boundary talk too! If this person is mostly just your partner’s friend, though, it is ok to ask your partner if they would be up for talking with that friend to set up some of their own boundaries. From there, it is going to be up to your partner to decide if that’s something they’re comfortable doing. Again, it’s never ok to demand or force a partner to stop being friends with someone (that is controlling and unhealthy behavior), but it’s totally okay request that your partner set up some boundaries with that friend.
It can certainly be confusing to try to figure out how to handle a friend flirting with your partner, but we hope that through honest communication, trust, and setting some healthy boundaries you can feel a bit better about the situation. Everyone (including you!) deserves to be in a healthy, happy and emotionally fulfilling relationship. If you have questions about this article or concerns about your relationship, reach out to a loveisrespect advocate. We’re here 24/7/365 via online chat, phone (1-866-331-9474) and text!