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Is flirting a good thing?

Flirting is a complex topic that comes with both benefits and drawbacks. When done respectfully, flirting can be a fun way to interact and connect with others. However, unclear intentions or inappropriate behavior can make flirting problematic.

What is flirting?

Flirting is expressing romantic or sexual interest in someone, often in a playful manner. It can involve conversing, joking, teasing, smiling, touching, or other behaviors that signal attraction. Flirting is generally lighthearted and not meant to lead to serious commitments. It allows people to test romantic compatibility without the pressures of dating.

Why do people flirt?

There are several motivations behind flirting:

  • To gauge mutual attraction and chemistry
  • For fun and excitement
  • To boost self-esteem
  • To practice social and romantic skills
  • As a prelude to finding a mate

Flirting gives people a chance to express interest and see if it’s reciprocated without being overtly direct. It’s a way to assess compatibility and build intimacy gradually. Many see flirting as an enjoyable social activity.

Benefits of flirting

When done appropriately, flirting can have advantages for individuals and relationships:

  • Builds confidence – The ability to flirt makes people feel attractive and socially adept.
  • Creates excitement – The playfulness and ambiguity involved in flirting cultivates sexual tension and interest.
  • Enhances communication skills – Flirting requires being charming, witty, observant and receptive to signals.
  • Promotes emotional bonding – The interactions create intimacy and foster fondness between people.
  • Opens romantic opportunities – Flirting allows people to gauge compatibility and find potential partners.

Through flirtatious conversations and signals of mutual interest, people can make interpersonal connections and explore romance.

Drawbacks of flirting

However, flirting also carries risks:

  • Creates confusion – The intentions behind flirting may be unclear, leading to misunderstandings.
  • Leads people on – Flirting without the desire for commitment can mislead others.
  • Causes jealousy – Flirting with those already in a relationship generates envy and distrust.
  • Feels harassing – Unwanted flirting can make people uncomfortable and feel unsafe.
  • Damages existing relationships – Flirting outside of a partnership destroys trust.

Ambiguity, insincerity, jealousy and boundary violations make flirting potentially problematic. Clear communication and respect are key to keeping flirting ethical.

Tips for flirting positively

Flirting can be healthy and enjoyable with good intentions and proper boundaries. Here are some tips:

  • Assess interest and availability first. Only flirt with singles who seem receptive.
  • Start out subtle rather than aggressive. Give the other person room to comfortably reciprocate or decline.
  • Avoid flirting with coworkers, employees, clients or others where roles preclude romantic interest.
  • Watch for nonverbal cues. If the other seems uncomfortable, take a step back.
  • Do not make assumptions. Do not touch or flirt more aggressively without clear permission.
  • Accept “no” gracefully. Flirting should always be voluntary for both parties.

Being ethical requires flirting in a consensual, appropriate, harmless manner.

Is flirting cheating?

Some believe that any flirtation outside a relationship is unacceptable. However, views on cheating through flirting differ:

Type of Flirting Viewpoint 1: Always Cheating Viewpoint 2: Sometimes Cheating
Minor flirting with strangers All flirting is off limits when in a relationship, harmless or not. As long as it is lighthearted and meaningless, a little flirting with attractive strangers is natural and not a serious breach of trust.
Flirting with acquaintances Flirting with those you have personal connections to is disloyal and inappropriate. Occasional, casual flirtation with acquaintances you see infrequently does not necessarily cross a line.
Flirting with intent Flirting with any expectation or desire for more is unacceptable. As long as nothing physical happens, flirtation that offers a tempting escape can be harmless.

Partners should openly communicate their boundaries. While some tolerate playful flirtation, others see all suggestive behaviors with others as betrayal.


Flirting involves fun, excitement, and the promise of romance but can lead to problems when taken too far. With mutual consent, respect and reasonable boundaries, flirting can be an enjoyable way to connect, express interest and explore relationships. However, ambiguity, jealousies and mismatched intentions make flirting something that requires ethical care and honesty. By being considerate of others and keeping partners open and informed, flirting can be done responsibly.