1. Flirting reminds you how sexy you are. When you’re in a long-term relationship, the belief that “this is the one person I will sleep with” can easily (and unhealthfully) translate into “this is the only person who will sleep with me.” Call me insecure, but I’ve always believed that sexiness is a collective effort. That is, it’s about how you interact with people, not just your one special person.
2. It also reminds you how sexy stability is. Flirting with people not-my-husband is the best kind of flirting I’ve ever enjoyed. When I was a single gal, getting my flirt on at watering holes hither and yon, there was always that little voice in the back of my head wondering, “Are we gonna regret this in the morning?” and reminding me, “If he takes you home and you see a video-game chair, RUN.” Now I get to flirt to my heart’s content, then come home and enjoy my sure thing. It really is the best combination.
Being free to flirt reintroduces the thrill of the unknown into everyday life—which, let’s face it, is a thrill that’s hard to come by once you’re married with children.
3. Flirting is about freedom, and freedom is sexy. I’ve never understood relationships where the two people set “rules” about not being “allowed” to flirt with others. First of all, what I do (i.e., flirting) has nothing to do with who I do (i.e., some rando). I have no interest in ruining my marriage, and even if I did, there are less messy ways to go about it than to go out and start up a raging flirtation. Being free to flirt is exhilarating; it reintroduces the thrill of the unknown into everyday life—which, let’s face it, is a thrill that’s hard to come by once you’re married with children.
4. A little jealousy in a marriage is not a terrible thing. If you were an over-emotional teen in the ’90s like me, I’m sure you’ll appreciate the following exchange between Graham Chase (Angela’s dad) and Hallie (the woman from his sauce class) on My So-Called Life:
Hallie: “There’s no law that says you can’t act jealous.”
Graham: “No. We don’t play games like that.”
Hallie: “I don’t call that a game.”
Graham: “What do you call it?”
Jealousy, when you get right down to it, is just another way of saying, “I get how attractive you are.” And once I see a spark of jealousy from my man, all I want to do is reassure him that he’s the only one for me. (NB: That means have sex. Yay!)
5. Um, women keep a “spank bank,” too. Any male or female who claims to have enjoyed years of monogamous sex without indulging a few mental fantasies now and then is probably lying to you, unless they are definitely lying to you.
6. It’s okay if your spouse doesn’t push all your buttons. Before I got married, I never thought I’d wind up with a guy who, like me, would want to see a Broadway show one night and a college basketball game the next. Amazingly, I did find just such a guy to marry (hence, why I married him)—yet there are still areas of interest where we just don’t overlap. Rather than lament this lack of shared enthusiasm, I just go out and get my kicks for those things with other people: men, women, whatever.
7. Flirting with others reminds me to flirt with him. Having read my first six points, you might not believe this, but I’m no longer a flirting natural. I am, in fact, everything typical and drab about a 40-year-old married mom. At this very moment, I am wearing no makeup, a fabric headband, an ugly sweater I got at a clothing swap, and the same Old Navy sweatpants and t-shirt I wore yesterday. In such a uniform, the only things I regularly think about flirting with are baked goods.
But in a few days, my husband and I have plans for a group dinner with his work colleagues. I will apply deodorant and mascara and go stand around during the cocktail hour, hoping that someone will talk to me while my spouse makes his networking rounds. And when I do find someone to chat with, I will try to sparkle and scintillate. Then I will catch my husband’s eye across the room and he will wink at me and I will marvel at the fact that we’re still two people who love to catch each other’s eye from across a room. I think you know how the rest will play out.