I have been living with this man who got divorced a year ago, he says he loves me and he’s living the best time of his life with me, but he is always flirting with every girl he sees and it really upsets me. After a confrontation about the flirting he started hiding his phone so I couldn’t see his flirting [text] messages to other women. I’m kind of pissed off and feel trapped. Should I stay or leave?
Claire, your situation is really quite common and I thank you for giving me the opportunity to address it. I sense that this fellow is a good sort, just overly inclined to flirting. In other words he’s not a player.
He actually feels better about things if he has clear limits and boundaries. He also seems very enamored of you, but I warn you, he’s coming to a crossroads and if you aren’t careful, you might end up pushing him away. Make no mistake. He might see it all as an innocent game but these ladies he’s flirting with are anything but naive. They are waiting for you to overstep your bounds, and then believe me, one of them will pounce. He’s recently divorced, he’s fair game, and nature never plays nice.
First, try to understand that your fellow is doing nothing that he’s not biologically hardwired to do. I see that he was confined to a stifling marriage for years. Now that the marriage is over he’s just plain curious as to what’s out there. Had his marriage been more liberal and nurturing he wouldn’t be acting like a fifteen year old. Unfortunately, his wife was very controlling and this backlash is par for the course. My advice, DO NOT become his wife. Don’t let these rivals put you in her category in his mind, which is exactly what they mean to do if they can.
Let go of your anger and jealousy. Tell him you don’t care for this flirting business, but you’ve decided it’s not really any of your concern. In fact, you think he should date other people. It’s obvious he’s curious about other women, and there’s only one way to find out if you’re who he wants to be with or not. Make sure he knows you won’t be waiting around while he plays the field but have every intention of dating other men yourself. He will be shocked, maybe even deny he wants to see others. Ignore this and insist that you feel it is best for you both. In this way you establish your own power base. You will force him to adjust his perceptions of you in a drastic way. And most important, you will push him straight into that pit of vipers he finds so appealing. He won’t find it nearly as enticing after experiencing it for a time without you as a safety net. Play him loose, my dear. He’s like a young boy in need of a good lesson and he’ll run home to you quick enough when he’s learned it. Be well.