Is Flirting Cheating? 8 Warning Signs When It’s Harmful

Learn when it’s hurtful when flirting becomes a form of cheating

By Diana Nadim
Is Flirting Cheating? 8 Warning Signs When It’s Harmful

The Definition Of Flirting And Cheating

Flirting is a social behavior of a sexual nature that involves things such as body language, written or even verbal communication. Persons exhibiting this type of behavior usually do so for fun or to suggest an interest in a deeper relationship with another person. Flirting is one of the biggest issues facing those who are in romantic relationships and usually causes a conflict.

When flirting, people usually behave or speak in a manner that suggests intimacy. It can also be done using body language where suggestive gestures such as touching each other briefly, smiling, battling eyelashes, flicking the hair, blowing a kiss, among many others, are used. So is flirting okay for those in relationships or is it a form of cheating?

Flirting is harmless if the parties involved are single but when one of them or both are in a relationship, then there must be boundaries otherwise it can become a big issue. Flirting is not only confined to body languages and personal communication, but it can also be done online by sending text messages and other forms of media.

In order to avoid issues brought about by flirting, you and your partner should first establish the boundaries where you will agree on ways of flirting which are acceptable to both of you. This is important as it will help you to understand the comfort level of your partner when it comes to flirting. For this to work, you must respect the boundaries you have set with your partner.

To ensure you are on the safe side, never flirt outside your relationship more than you flirt with your partner. Flirting has a lot of benefits and one of them is that it helps to boost your self-esteem. Being with one person for too long can make you forget just how amazing you look and flirting reminds you of this making your self-esteem to shoot through the roof.

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Cheating is referred to as having an emotional or a physical romantic relationship with a person who is not your partner. Emotional cheating is one of the most common forms of cheating and many people do it even without knowing. This involves giving affectionate details about your relationship, marriage or life with another person who you are attracted to without the knowledge of your partner.

Physical cheating usually involves physical or sexual intimacy with another person who is not your partner. This means that all intimate physical acts such as caressing and kissing are all cheating as many people usually associate physical affairs with just sexual intimacy. Many men find physical affairs to be more damaging while women find emotional affairs to be worse than the other forms of cheating.

Emotional and physical affairs are the main forms of cheating but there are other less damaging forms of cheating such as mental affairs and e-affairs. Mental affairs are basically fantasies which are mostly healthy for those in relationships. Trouble begins when your fantasies cause you to start losing interest in your partner.

We now spend most of our time online and this means that vices such as cheating have also followed us there. E-cheating, therefore, involves seeking relationships with other people you have met using things such as emails, social media, and dating sites, among many others.

Red Flags to Note When Flirting Becomes Cheating

When flirting becomes cheating, - there are some red flags one should look out for and some of them are as follows:

Through Text

1. When it has a sexual agenda

Sending text messages to each other might be just innocent but when things start changing and your conversations become sexual in nature, know that you are no longer on safe grounds and you are trending on murky and dangerous waters of cheating. Sending this kind of text messages usually leads to an increase in your sexual fantasy with that person which can easily lead to an actual sexual encounter.

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2. When the flirting is kept a secret

This is a huge red flag as genuine flirting should be done in the open and your partner should not only be aware of it but should also be okay with it.  If you find yourself keeping your text message away from your partner because you know they would hurt him/her, you should know that your flirting is no longer innocent and you are now cheating. There are various ways of keeping your texts away from your partner, you can delete them or start locking your phone to prevent your partner form reading them.

3. When it doesn’t stop despite your partner being against it

As earlier said, flirting is healthy when done in knowledge of both partners and within the boundaries set. This means that if your partner is not comfortable with a certain part of your flirting aspect you should stop it. Flirting becomes cheating when your partner is not okay with kind of texts you have been sending and receiving and you fail to stop it. This shows that you are starting to get attached to whoever you are flirting with.

On Facebook And Other Social Media

4. When you are spending too much time chatting with her/him

Healthy flirting is done for fun which means that it’s not your priority and should not take much of your time. If you find yourself spending too much time communicating with those, you are flirting with or going through their social media profiles, then you should know that you are cheating on your partner. It does not matter what you are talking about, even if the content is harmless, spending too much time communicating with her or him is wrong as it means that you are spending less time with or thinking about your partner.

5. If you are rationalizing

Flirting on social media can be very easy but as long you know and respect the boundaries you have put with your partner, everything should be alright. If you, however, find yourself in a situation where you constantly feel the need to reassure yourself that your relationship is still safe and you are doing nothing wrong this should be a red flag that your flirting is slowly but surely turning into cheating. Your guilt makes you to start justifying your actions as the flirting is no longer innocent.

6. When you are sharing intimate details about your relationship

People usually share a lot of information on Facebook and other social media platforms but when you are in a relationship, information about your spouse should be off limits. These are some of the boundaries that should be respected when flirting. So, if you find yourself sharing intimate details about your relationship or discussing your partner with people on Facebook and other platforms, you are no longer flirting but cheating. This is not only disturbing but also wrong on so many levels as it shows lack of respect for your spouse and relationship.

When Married

7. If the flirting is meeting your personal needs

Marriage is a sacred relationship and as such, you and your spouse should be getting all your intimacy needs within your marriage. Flirting can be healthy for those who are married as long as it’s done in an open manner with no ill motives and boundaries are set and respected. Flirting turns to cheating when you start using flirting to fulfill your intimacy needs. Some of the intimacy needs include; emotional intimacy needs such as high level of transparency, spiritual, physical intimacy needs such as sexual attraction, and intellectual intimacy needs.

8. When all the flirting happens with just one individual

Flirting is healthy when it involves many people but when this changes and you end up focusing on only one person then it can easily lead to cheating. This can be a sign of attraction between you and the person you are flirting with hence the reason why you should stop. If this kind of flirting continues, it makes your bond to grow leading to either an emotional affair or physical affair.


Flirting is a necessary evil. This is because as risky as it is, it has a lot of benefits for couples. If done right, flirting positively can contribute to the health of your relationship but if the boundaries laid out are not respected, it can lead to cheating either emotional, physical or even both; marking the beginning of the end of your relationship.

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