I Am Married, But I Miss Flirting With New People

by Virginia Duan
Woman's flirty smile

You know what I miss? I miss flirting.

I mean, I could flirt with my husband (and I do on occasion), but it’s not the same. Our flirting is the comfort of a known quantity, the pleasure of knowing exactly how the other person will thrust and riposte, and the joy and exasperation of knowing someone half your life.

It leaves me wanting.

I miss that initial zing of sexual tension — that frisson of anticipation. Of waiting for banter to tip into “more” or back into a “safe” zone. I miss that delight in discovering a person is fleet in word and nimble in rejoinder and not just a pretty face.

I miss flirting with intent — a seduction via spoken meter and prose — and that’s a travesty because I’m excellent at flirting with intent.

Of course, being married doesn’t mean you must stop flirting

Hey, I’m all about consent. If your partner doesn’t mind you flirting (or more) with someone else, that’s great! But as for me, I don’t believe in flirting with men who are not my husband. It makes me uncomfortable because I know how easily a mood can shift — from innocent to boundary crossing — and I really don’t ever want to put myself in a situation where I can make poor choices.

Again, this is a me thing — I make no judgments on people who do. I view flirting with men who are not my husband akin to an alcoholic walking into a fully stocked open bar.

I don’t pursue friendships with men who I am attracted to enough to have sex with, and that’s most likely a function of me being a stay-at-home-mom. I almost never meet men unless they’re the husband of a friend or acquaintance — and ew. Like, ew.

Plus, no man is worth blowing up my life — or that of a friend’s.

And even if my husband was fine with us being non-monogamous, I don’t want to date or sleep with anyone else. Possibly, because I have the emotional maturity of a toddler and being an adult and navigating all these faultlines of sex and relationships seems like a lot of work for very little payoff.

The void can be filled in more platonic, non-sexual ways

Lately, I’ve been thinking that this may be why I love making new friends. (Well, other than the fact that I’m an extrovert and though I despise small talk, have zero problems sharing inappropriate quips in the post office line or at the grocery checkout.)

Making new friends is like the beginnings of sexual attraction — except there’s no worry of whether or not they want to have sex with you. I don’t want to cheat on my husband, and making new friends fills that need or ache to feel pretty, funny, and clever.

Old friends are great for flirting with, too, but they sort of have to love you and you also know their rhythms. It’s great — but not quite what I want.

I want that sizzle as you connect with new people and the pleasure of discovering them — of seeing them blossom and unfurl. It’s like watching an intricately choreographed fight scene — but it’s all extemporaneous — and it’s thrilling as you dance around each other to see if you suit as friends. To see what as yet unearthed aspects of yourself each new person can reveal.

Also, part of the appeal of new friends is that all your old jokes are new again! You can parade out all your best material that you’ve run through over the decades and your old friends are sick of — but not new friends!

New friends think you’re the epitome of wit and hilarity and ask if you have ever considered being a stand-up comic to which you humbly demure and say yes, yes you have but you don’t have the thick skin or dedication to craft necessary to make it in the business!

Honestly, it’s the intellectual exercise of it.

How do you win someone over with your wit alone? How to impress a person who has no reason to care about you? How do you convey that you have a sexy brain, are brilliant, and sparkle — that you are imminently attractive — but without being an ass about it?

When you can unexpectedly find a stranger whose banter leaves you screaming with glee and delight — what a joy and gift that is. It’s the closest approximation to flirting without it being unsafe. And don’t we all deserve to feel as if we’re shiny and new again?

Here’s to that ineluctable effervescence of making new friends — may we all feel as if we could still beguile and bewitch as we did in our days past.