When working with people around intimacy, I often assess how folx flirt. Flirting between those who are dating is expected, but after years of being married or living together, people forget to flirt or even how to flirt.
The reasons for flirting are so important because the lack of it can result in people feeling distant, unseen, and unimportant to their lovers. This potential disconnect between partners not only begins to show up in their communication patterns but also in the way they express their intimacy, communication, and vulnerability in the bedroom.
Therefore, when I am working with intimate relationships where they feel disconnected, I encourage them to flirt daily. This form of homework is either welcomed or met with some trepidation. That trepidation comes from many different places.
One possibility is that lovers do not know how to flirt and, therefore, are afraid to look silly. Flirting can be a vulnerable activity to undertake when you think you will be judged for trying.
The truth is: No one wants to feel rejected when trying to connect with their lover; no one wants to be turned away and thought of as silly.
An encounter that shames or makes fun of a person for trying to be flirty can lead to a cycle of distrust and distancing. Therefore, it is essential to be mindful when your lover is trying to connect and to resist any tendency to reject his/her efforts. The goal here is always to remember to be kind to your lover when you see them trying to connect and be appreciative of the effort.
Also, there is nothing wrong with asking your partner very frankly what makes them feel special, pursued, and loved. We are not good mind-readers as humans; therefore, asking for direction from our lover is a powerful way to learn how to meet each other’s needs, emotionally and sexually. It is ok not to know all the answers of how to please our lover; asking for guidance and direction can help you both.
Another reason people can feel weary of flirting is because they feel flirting has to lead to penetration. Folx who are weary of flirting might believe flirting has to be a means to an end, and so they do not want to engage in this exercise. This is where we need to expand the definition of sex.
Our society equates sex with penetration; however, sex is more than just intercourse. Sex is a combination of pleasure and connection between lovers.
Take a moment to think of what brings pleasure and connection when you are with your lover. Make a list of things and see which one of those things can be brought into the bedroom. Also, be mindful of when you are feeling connection and pleasure with your lover during different moments in the day; slow down and enjoy it and express to your lover that you are enjoying that moment with them.
When talking with a friend about this article, she said, “I don’t know how to flirt; isn’t there a book out there to help me?” My response was a smile and I replied, “There are books about everything, so I am sure there is one out there for flirting.”
However, that made me think of the need to list some ways to flirt in this article. This list is not exclusive by any means; be creative and try different things when pursuing your lover.
Send a text in the middle of the day
Leave a note around the house, in their work things, in their car, etc.
Buy flowers or, better yet, pick some and give them to your lover
Wink at each other
Tap your partner’s butt
Give a massage
Buy them their favorite lunch and surprise them at work or, better yet, bring a picnic
Write a poem or sing a song to them
Do something that only they would enjoy
Bring them breakfast in bed or a coffee
Let them sleep in
Tell them the parts of their body you find enticing (things unique to them, like a little spot on their back)
Touch them throughout the day
Play with their hair
Tell them they are loved
Look into their eyes and smile
Basically any idea is a good idea. You can add to this list; in fact, I expect everyone to add to this list.
The truth is love-making and intimacy need to be fostered and worked at daily. So, try flirting and see what kind of passion begins to develop between you and your lover.
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Kimberly (she/her) is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, an AASECT Certified Sex Therapist, Certified Emotionally Focused Couples Therapist, and a Certified Integrated Intimacy Professional. She has a private practice that focuses on sex therapy, attachment, social justice, and couples work.
Kimberly is a Washington State Supervisor, an AAMFT Supervisor, AASECT Certified Sex Therapist Supervisor and an EFT Supervisor-in-training. Kimberly also provides sex supervision through the Modern Sex Therapy Institute where folx train to be sexual educators and therapists.
Kimberly is a national speaker, speaking on topics of faith, sexuality, grief, coping with Multiple Sclerosis, high tone pelvic floor, menopause and more! She is a gifted teacher and emphasizes the freedom that comes from education!