How Can I Stay Married To A Man Who Flirts With Other Women?

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I have been married for 15 years and my husband has always been attracted to very beautiful women/young girls. When we first started dating, I felt uncomfortable at how he would leer at other women in my presence, which made me feel that he wanted more. He is also into a lot of porn and it is the sites of really young girls that bother me the most.

He is a salsa dancer and always chooses the young sexy girls to dance with. We are in our mid-forties and sometimes I find his behavior repulsive. I have chosen to no longer go out to these places with him because I feel like I cannot compete with young 20-somethings…nor do I want to and he loves the attention he gets from being a good dancer.

When I approach him on his flirty behavior with women, he claims it is a sexual energy on the dance floor that he finds exciting, but it does not mean that he wants to sleep with them. My fear is what happens when one of them wants to sleep with him? He does not want to stop, yet he wants to stay in this marriage.

I do not want to be in a relationship like this and have let him know that I want to leave the marriage. He wants us to stay together with our son, yet continue this lifestyle. My question is this…am I just insecure or is he crossing the line when it comes to dancing with other women? If we do stay together what are so me boundaries that will make me feel safe in this marriage? —Candace

I have written extensively about this, so you should probably read a few of these posts.

And as much as many of my readers would tend to disagree, this isn’t nearly as black and white you might think. You’re emotionally caught up right now, Candace, and it’s hard to find an objective point of view.

While infidelity itself may be an absolute deal-breaker for your relationship, flirting itself may not be — especially within the context of an otherwise good marriage.

Now, you’ve left a lot out of your email that is important to consider. Without this information, it would be impossible for me to tell you what to do. So before you file for divorce, you should probably consider these mitigating factors from your devil’s advocate dating coach:

First of all, how is your marriage? It may seem like a silly question, given how upset you are, but apart from his interest in looking at/dancing with pretty women, what does the rest of your relationship look like? Is he a good provider? Does he spend a lot of time with you? Is he a solid communicator? Is he an available father? Does he have anger issues? Has he ever actually cheated on you or talked about a divorce?

All of this stuff matters, in my humble opinion.

Because while infidelity itself may be an absolute deal-breaker for your relationship, flirting itself may not be — especially within the context of an otherwise good marriage. And yes, I say this as a flirt and a good husband as well.

Next, let’s dive into his actual offenses:

He’s a good salsa dancer. You used to go with him. Now you don’t because he enjoys dancing with and impressing younger women. That opens up the door to more questions: does he leave you sitting alone while you’re out dancing? That would be rude, but can’t you just as easily dance with other men? As a former salsa dancer, I know that partners generally rotate, instead of staying with each other all night — especially in classes.

Which makes me wonder: are you just getting upset at what could be considered normal behavior? After all, salsa is an inherently sexy dance. Should your husband refuse to dance with women who are younger and prettier than you? Should he pretend not to enjoy himself with them because you feel insecure?

One CAN watch porn with younger women (and enjoy it) without acting on it. It’s pretty normal, as long as he’s not a porn addict and it hasn’t killed your sex life.

I know it’s hard to field these questions because you want to assume he’s guilty. Still, in the interest of objectivity, I have to go under the presumption of innocence until he’s PROVEN guilty. So what exactly does your husband do that is so repulsive? Does he ask these younger women for their phone numbers? Do they sit on his lap after the dance? Does he kiss them or squeeze their asses? Or does he, you know, just dance and smile and hug them after they’re done, which is pretty standard practice. Unless he’s doing any of those overtly sexual things, I would be forced to conclude that he’s enjoying salsa dancing the way it’s meant to be enjoyed.

Understand, Candace:

One CAN flirt with someone else (and enjoy it) without acting on it. It’s pretty normal, especially if a couple is secure in their relationship.

One CAN watch porn with younger women (and enjoy it) without acting on it. It’s pretty normal, as long as he’s not a porn addict and it hasn’t killed your sex life.

So what we’re really talking about here is getting clarity on his actual flirtatious behavior and weighing your own insecurity. I don’t know the answers to either.

I do know you’re assuming his behaviors are bad because you’re hurt by them.

But I have to ask if you’re being hurt by behaviors that aren’t inherently hurtful.

Would a more secure woman, like, say, my wife, laugh off the same things that are causing you to consider a divorce?

I don’t know the answer, because I don’t know the answer to the questions I’ve asked you above. However, before you do anything rash, I think that you need to assess your own level of security and weigh it against his actual behaviors (not his fantasies). Your husband may be insensitive but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s a cheater and that you should throw out your marriage because of it.

And before we get started with the comments — if any woman is going to disagree with me below, remember, you don’t know the answers to Candace’s questions either. You just know that you’re sensitive to her needs and less sympathetic to her husband. Try being impartial and attempt to see how he MIGHT be innocent before you react to my call for more answers.

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Comments:

  1. 161
    Pamela T-C

    Hi Evan, I truly apologize. I did not intend to insult you or make assumptions about you and your wife, but  I see that I did just that and completely understand your response. You are both so lucky that your relationship is strong, secure  and healthy.  I’m happy for you – that’s the way it should be.  We should  be proud  that others find our  partners attractive, and that we are attractive to others. It’s part of the fun and vitality of life.   It’s a very emotional and raw topic for me. I left my SO recently, and  I’m sad and  devastated.  I found this blog very helpful today and read every single comment. It gave me more insight into my ex, as well as strengthened my own  determination  to be treated with respect.  I think there are flirting distinctions. There is innocent fun flirting, like what you describe at the party with your wife, and there’s flirting with an unhealthy, hurtful history in a relationship. It’s the latter that I experienced, and I am assuming that Candace has experienced.   But you are right, we can’t know anyone’s entire story. I don’t think I’m even talking about flirting as the issue – it feels like something else – behavior that is precursor to an affair. You have taught me something important – thank you.

  2. 162
    Darlene Baumann

    I think this is horrible advice and opposite from everything else I’ve ever read. It is “NATURAL” but so is taking a poop but we don’t do that whenever or wherever we want because there is something called BOUNDARIES and what is socially acceptable.   It is disrespectful and hurtful to flirt.   I would talk to your husband about your feelings and if he is not willing to change or at least try.   Leave.   Period.   This means he is completely disregarding your feelings.   I would rather be alone than to be with someone who didn’t care about hurting my feelings.   He is being selfish and just caring about how HE feels and what HE wants.   Marriage is a two way street.   How would he like it if you dirty danced with some studly guy.   If he wouldn’t care, then he probably doesn’t care about you and I wouldn’t want to be with someone who didn’t care about me.

  3. 163
    Ann

    He leers in her presence.   He apparently does not according her any status in public either.   He knows she has pulled back yet hasn’t mitigated her distance.

  4. 164
    JSCZ

    I love it when people assume the flirting victim (in this case the wife) is “insecure.” She could be the most secure person in the world, but when other people react to, or think of her differently because her husband is a flirt, is she supposed to disregard or live with this uncomfortable situation? Isn’t it disrespectful of him to subject her to this? I don’t think flirting is necessarily a divorceable offense but, at some point, the flirter needs to put his spouse’s feelings above getting his ego stroked.
    What it comes down to is respect. I have consciously not overtly flirted my entire married life because 1) it is disrespectful to my husband 2) I was afraid the flirting would lead men on and they would misunderstand. This doesn’t mean I never flirted, everyone does. It’s a matter of degree. When people come up to you and mention your husband’s flirting, or think of you or your marriage in a negative way because of his flirting, then I think that’s detrimental to the marriage and, again, is highly disrespectful. It shows and utter lack of regard for your partner. How can you have a successful marriage if the partners don’t show respect for one another?
    I’ve been married to a serial flirter for 46 years. I’m just now getting fed up with it. And, no, it’s not because I’ve lost my looks. I can still compete with women half my age! In fact, I’ve been told I look half my age! What irks me is how my husband is willing to let others perceive me, and our marriage,   in a negative light, just so he can stroke his overblown   ego.
    All I know is I wish I’d done something about it earlier. Maybe not divorce, but I sure would have upped my flirting game to match, or excel, his. I wonder how he would have taken it? Somehow, I don’t think he would have taken it well at all. Live and learn.

  5. 165
    sindi

    I think they’re both going through a mid-life crisis of some sort.  they’re both feeling old.  he’s trying to feel young with looking at younger women porn and dancing with younger sexier women , living in a fantasy world making him think he’s still desirable to the younger opposite sex and the wife just feels like she’s over the hill because her husband no longer desires her the way he does the younger women.   understandable.  question is what do you do about it? we’re all going to go through this if we live long enough. it’s easy to give solutions when you’re young and attractive and still marketable, but when the age and wrinkles set in, you start to feel unwanted, useless, undesirable etc.

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