If you’re not in a poly party, what do you do if someone flirts with your boyfriend in front of you?
With Reid Mihalko from ReidAboutSex.com and Cathy Vartuli from TheIntimacyDojo.com.
Reid: Cathy Vartuli from TheIntimacyDojo.com reading one of our amazing watcher/listener’s comments while I spit everywhere.
Cathy: Someone wrote and said, “Hi Cathy, I’ve been watching you and Reid’s video for the past three months and I’m grateful for the helpful tips that you give so generously. You cannot imagine the comfort, peace, and clarity that those videos brought to my life and some of my friends also. There’s one thing that I have some confusion that I’m trying to figure out. When is it not okay, when you’re not at a poly party, or if you’re not a party or some event where it’s … Having multiple flirts or whatever is pre-arranged or understood? What do you do when someone hits on your boyfriend or girlfriend?”
I guess from what I understand, if you’re in a more monogamous setting and someone comes up in a monogamous frame, and they hit on your boyfriend or girlfriend. Is there a practical way to show the other person that it’s not okay or is it just not best to do anything, just appreciate the person in a gracious way?
Reid: That’s the question?
Reid: Let’s answer that question. I’m Reid Mihalko, for those of you who haven’t figured it out yet, ReidAboutSex.com, and a little bit of a jackass.
Cathy: Often, but wonderful too.
Reid: Thank you, you’re very kind too. I’ll let you answer this first before I ruin the answer.
Cathy: He doesn’t always like my answers completely. I think part of it is talking to your partner ahead of time and figuring out what your relationship agreements are. So if your relationship … Even if you’re in a poly … You may be in a very open relationship but you could still have boundaries where if you and your partner are having … You’re in a triad, it can be a poly relationship and it could still be closed. You can agree not to flirt with other people and deciding what’s a yes for you with other people.
Some people like to agree with their partner before they take anything further, so flirting may or may not be on the table. Deciding with your partner ahead of time what’s agreeable in your relationship and what’s not it could be really useful. Then it might be up to that person to say … It might not be up to you to say, hey, that’s my boyfriend, back off or that’s my girlfriend, hey don’t … You scared me. My God, he’s never going to stop now. He just ate chocolate covered espresso beans and I apologize in advance. You’re going to do it, aren’t you?
Sorry guys. Look at his face. It might be out to your partner to say, listen, I’m in a committed relationship. I think that it’s very traditional. We’ve been taught, we have to protect our … If this is my boyfriend I have to guard and make sure no one gets in there. I am so sorry. I didn’t know he was going to eat those. If you and your partner have agreement on what’s allowed and what’s not allowed it might be for him to say or her to say, hey, I’m with this person and flirting is not on the table or it’s cool to flirt but I want you to know that my partners are here.
Reid: You have to flirt with both of us, we’re going to flirt.
Cathy: Whatever the agreement is.
Reid: That’s pretty good. My answer is you can’t control other people’s behaviors, even those of the ones you love, so understand that. But you certainly stop people from flirting with your partner or even with you in normal situation. Whether it’s a social situation, whether it’s work, whatever. First, understand from yourself, break down what flirting means to you or what you make it mean because culturally, like you said, we’re taught to protect our territory.
Cathy: It implies that your partner is not capable or an adult who can take care of himself.
Reid: There’s also this understanding, not that they can’t take care of themselves as they won’t be able to stop themselves. Because remember, we’re all still reeling from our parents and culture freaking out that we went through puberty and turned into sexual beings. Somehow like we weren’t sexual beings when we were running around naked, like pulling on our junk when we were four, and the humping things.
The idea is, one, everyone is going to lose control, so we can’t flirt because it will go too far.
Cathy: Out of control, spiraling.
Reid: Which is from a culture of bad touch, like show me on the doll where the bad touch happened. It’s never like Jane, Jimmy, show us on a doll where they touched you good and it felt great and live became ecstatic and you saw the star and the universe come-
Cathy: When you were playing doctor with Jimmy from next door.
Reid: We never talked about it like that. Everyone has weird family histories and just childhood histories. Sex is weird in our culture because we make it weird. Flirting is associated with sex, that’s why it gets weird, and you have the right to feel comfortable or uncomfortable about stuff, that’s all. So have a conversation with yourself, about what flirting means and what you’re concerned about or confused about, so that you can have a more clear conversation with your partners about, hey, these are some of the things I noticed from myself around flirting, how about you?
Then you’re having a conversation about it. So when we’re at events, poly or not, because the way the … We’re unreeling the question or hearing it is in poly situations flirting maybe is okay, but in non-poly situations it’s not.
Cathy: From my experience, in a poly community there’s a lot more, you can talk about things a little more openly. You can say, hey, I’m in a relationship and flirting is okay but I can’t … I’ve agreed with my partner I’m not going to sleep with someone, whatever it is.
Reid: Monogamous people can flirt too and it’s still be okay. My question is regardless of the situation what is the policy for you guys as a couple about when people flirt with you or when you want to flirt with people? When you guys make that mean, and how can you leave each other feeling loved, honored and cherished. When you’re feeling loved, honored and cherished usually there’s a lot more space for people to be playful and have fun with other people. Which in my book being playful and having fun with other people, that’s flirting.
You’re flirting, you’re playing, you’re having fun, it doesn’t have to lead anywhere and then if it is appropriate for you to flirt and have it lead somewhere you should tell everybody that hey I’m flirting with you and just you know, in my relationships I can flirt and have this go somewhere-
Cathy: And no one is going to complain.
Reid: Is that okay or should we just flirt and it’s not going to go anywhere? It’s really about checking in, which is kind of a Blackwell move, but monogamous or not checking in with people and be like, I’m feeling really playful with you and it might occur to you as flirting so I’m cool with flirting with you but I think we should just define our terms, so how would you like to do that. You can be playful even with that. For me that’s a very geekie approach but it’s telling everybody what’s going on.
Cathy: Actually I found a really fun way to… I was flirting with someone in an event, there wasn’t any like jump on each other’s bones, but I hugged in goodbye and I was like, “It was so fun flirting with you.” And his face lit up. It was really fun.
Reid: We would love … So many of us just still have that sixth, fifth, seventh grade kind of thing, like it would be fun if people just liked being playful with me. You don’t even have to like them, like them, like them or they like you, like you, like you, just like it’s just fun.
Cathy: There is a video on loved, honored and cherished on this channel.
Reid: It is?
Cathy: It’s a good one.
Reid: Smart thinking about that one.
Cathy: Reid has some great articles about it on his website too.
Reid: I hope this helps. We went a lot of different directions but when in doubt remember [cat sound].
Cathy: Oh my God.
Reid: That was awesome