Would You Dump a Dude For Flirting In Front of You??



Alias (DO NOT USE A REAL NAME!!): Cassandra
Comment: I’m a 53-year-old female who has been dating a man, 58, for the last year.  We’ve had a great time in getting to know each other and in this time we’ve been almost inseparable in going on various adventures and doing fun things together.  I love you‘s have been exchanged and there’s been some discussion of eventually living together and/or getting married, but we’re not there yet.

The most significant challenge for me with the relationship is my boyfriend’s need for attention. He is somewhat of a local-area sports legend, (albeit aging now), and he loves being the center of attention in just about any situation, especially in a social setting.  The issue is when his need for attention manifests itself with what I perceive to be overly-flirty behavior with other women, to the point of being inappropriate at times, (with them), which is hurtful and disrespectful, (of me).  When I see it happening. I invariably walk away to not only avoid seeing what he’s doing, but to send the message that I find his behavior unacceptable.

When I’ve tried to discuss how his behavior makes me feel, he’s dismissive and says these women are simply friends/coworkers/neighbors/acquaintances/etc, and that I’m being over-sensitive and insecure.  However, I don’t think so. While he’s gotten better with his behavior since I’ve raised my concerns, there is still about a once-a-month situation that invariable crops up that leaves me feeling punched in the gut. I’ve considered ending the relationship several times because of it.

So just what are the boundaries?  At what point is flirty, touchy behavior simply harmless fun versus being truly inappropriate or douchebaggery?  You‘d think at my age I would know, but I divorced about two years ago after an almost 30-year marriage and I guess I’m still learning.
Age: 53
City: Portland
State: OR

To me, the boundaries are clear: if you communicate a valid concern to your partner and they do the whole “It’s all in your head thing” then it’s time to cut bait. But before you do, ask yourself this:  Do you – with regularity – become bothered by things that other people tell you are no big deal? If so, then this might be in your head. But if not and this is the only thing that upsets you about him, and if you’re not picking a fight just to pick a fight, then it’s safe to say that this one small critique is not a figment of your imagination.

People in relationships flirt because they want to know they’re still attractive. If he’s some All American Football Hero or whatever, and he was once some sort of Golden Boy, then I can kind of see why he still needs to scratch that itch and remind himself of his glory days. It’s kind of sad, but people do it.

The relationship with this man that you describe sounds pretty good. Barring any other issues, it seems solid and like it makes you happy. So, I’d hate for you to throw everything away for this one albeit irritating peccadillo. With every couple, there are things that one or both of them do that makes them want to scratch the other’s face off. It’s not like you can walk away from this guy 100% certain you’ll never meet someone with any annoying quirk ever again.  If he draws the line at flirting and never crosses it, would you be able to just look away and tell yourself he’s just feeling insecure and needs an ego stroke? Because that’s all it probably is: just an aging sports hero seeking out attention that he never used to have to work for but now does because he’s no longer relevant. Ouch.

That said, what bothers me isn’t the flirting but rather his dismissive reaction to you expressions of hurt. That’s what is really troubling. It has only been a year. For all you know this guy just hasn’t pulled off his mask completely and there’s more douchebaggery lurking beneath the surface.

I don’t really know what to say here. This might just be something he does when he’s feeling extra needy. Or he might be a complete asshole. I’m not sure. The only thing I know is that, as a trainer at my gym says, if something causes you pain, stop. Maybe that’s the answer: walk away temporarily and see what he does.



Sometimes the love of your life is the love of your life. (R)


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15 Responses to “Would You Dump a Dude For Flirting In Front of You??”

  1. bbdawg Says:

    That’s a tough one:(

    The bottom line is, the OP has really been hurt by this guy’s behavior and can she 1. live with it if he does not change the behavior and 2. what would be more painful, losing the guy or having to deal with it indefinitely.

    I had a boyfriend who was flirtatious when I was in my 20s and it really bothered me. Because he was giving signals and attention to women as if he was single, pretty much in front of me. He clearly enjoyed it and acted not to annoy me necessarily, but to get the acknowledgement that random women found him attractive and were flirting back.

    The question about this behavior is not only that it can be hurtful, but that it can be an indicative of lack of poor impulse control which is one step away from cheating. At the OP’s age and situation the question is, can she live with it? Has his behavior led to cheating/womanizing in the past? Because at 58 he’s probably not going to change and he has said he is not going to change his behavior to appease the OP.

  2. SS Says:

    What Moxie said.

    If you’re not in the habit of insecure behaviour, then his behaviour is inappropriate, period.

    And if he’s dismissing your needs *now* (in the honeymoon phase), imagine how he’d be further down the line with everything else too?

    But the paramount concern is that if he isn’t going to hear and accommodate your needs then regardless of the rest, it’s no relationship at all.

    If you’re intent on “trying to make it work” then gently exploring why he acts the way he does and why he’s unwilling to change may lend some perspective as to why he’s clinging to bad behaviour and causing damage in the process.

    Maybe he’ll give some insight so as to honestly assuage your concerns, or help you realize it’s truly meaningless in his world. However, if he’s unable or unwilling to articulate what’s going on, or he minimizes it, then really the writing is on the wall.

  3. nia Says:

    I’m pretty sure this guy is aware of what he’s doing, but just on the off chance that he think he’s being “innocent” and “Friendly” perhaps the OP can say, calmly, and after the fact “The way you complimented that woman by saying “Wow, you look good enough to eat” or “The way you hugged your coworker for a good 30 seconds” made me uncomfortable.

    Perhaps pointing out the exact behavior in black and white will help him see that yes, he does flirt, yes it happens a bit too often, and yes, it hurts you. It’s hard to address vague complaints like “you flirt too much” but it’s harder to explain spending 40 minutes alone on the back porch at a party with your single pal Jenny sharing a glass of wine and a smoke (or whatever it is).

    I have encountered men who struggle with lack of boundaries and a flirtatious manner is just how the relate to the world. This may be the case and maybe gently calling him on his *exact* behavior will help.

    The other thing I’d suggest is maybe giving him the ‘positive’ side—like, rather than saying “don’t flirt” explain “It would really mean so much to me to feel I’m the focus of your attention and affection when we’re in public.” or “I love it when you make me feel like I’m the only girl in the world for you.”

    Generally, I follow the policy “you get more of what you focus on” so if you focus on the times when he’s doing what you like —eyes on you, focus on you—then you may get more of it!!

    Good luck!

    • Lisa Says:

      I agree. Be specific about what you don’t like and ask him to STOP. If he chooses not to accommodate your request, it’s an issue of respect …not really of flirting.

    • Bill Says:

      Nia, you’ve done a good job giving specific examples of behaviors that are overly flirty, of crossing the line. The OP in her letter has not. IMO, that is telling, so there is a good chance that she is being overly sensitive.

      Something else that Moxie and other commentators have ignored, is that HE HAS MODIFIED HIS BEHAVIOR. Though just not enough for the OP.

      Finally, all are overlooking his response. If she was addressing him about his BEHAVIOR, his response would be defensive along the lines of “we were just talking” or “I’m just being friendly.” That’s not what’s going on… from his response, it is apparent that she has problems with specific women who make her feel threatened.

      Cassandra, running away when an attractive woman flirts with your guy (which is what she wants, BTW), then, afterwards , telling him to shun her is not the way to keep your man. He will eventually get tired of bowing to your insecurities. Instead, in those situations, confidently put your arm around his back and smile your best, yup he’s great, he’s popular and he’s all mine, beyotch, smile.

  4. BTownGirl Says:

    Girl, I’ve dated pro athletes, so I get it. They can be…a handful. Bring it up again and let him know that his reaction upsets you more than the behavior. I think you could totally say, “The fact that you’re not taking it seriously when I’m telling you this really hurts me makes me question moving forward with you.” Listen closely to what he says!

  5. Mandy Says:

    First, are you confident that it’s just flirting and attention, and not cheating? I think that’s the big question here. How confident are you that he’s truly not cheating, and truly committed to you? If you’re concerned he’s cheating/not committed to you then that’s a major problem in your relationship you need to address.

    But if not, this is a guy who likes flirting and attention. It’s who he is. I don’t think it’s right to expect someone to change because you’ve decided it bothers you. If you can’t handle it, then he’s not the right guy for you.

    • K Says:

      I would add to this to ask yourself how secure you feel in this relationship. Although I don’t love flirty men, when I’ve been very secure in my relationship I could care less if my guy was flirting. I’ve even joked–hope you got her number. Mostly b/c I knew I had it in the bag. On the other hand even mild flirting has gotten under my skin when I wasn’t secure in how a guy felt about me. But I’m generally not that jealous. So when it gets to me, I’d know it’s because something else is not right, I’m unsure if he likes me as much as I like him, I fear cheating etc. If you easily get jealous then this may not apply as well to you.

  6. fuzzilla Says:

    You can always flip the script and ask how he’d like to see his behaviors coming out of you. “So you’d really be okay with me sitting on your best friend’s lap/grabbing his bicep/playing with his hair while we smoke alone on the back porch/[insert the specific behaviors that bother you]?” Maybe he’ll finally understand how you feel if you put it that way. Nia is right – point out *specific*, objective behaviors that cannot be denied (that was really drilled in to my head in therapy).

    I do have trust issues from crappy relationships. Which no, is not the fault of subsequent men I date, but flirting with other women or the appearance of it triggers a lot of anxiety in me. When I explained this to my current BF, he seemed to get it. That, and pointing out specific behaviors (“I’m not saying you were overtly flirting with that woman at the party or that there was anything sexual to the conversation/body language, but it was a really long conversation about a subject I have little knowledge of/no natural way to insert myself into the conversation. There was nothing to indicate to her that you were taken. In the future, please make that crystal clear. Periodically say things like, ‘Oh yeah, me and my girlfriend were gonna go try that restaurant. Say, have you met my girlfriend?'” I worried that he was giving off the impression he was single was the specific thing that was anxiety-provoking).

  7. Kim Says:

    This is an offbeat suggestion, but would it be possible to discreetly video any of these flirtatious encounters with a cell phone? Maybe if he could see his behavior from your (the OP’s) point of view, he would better understand how it comes across and why it bothers you. Just a thought.

    • DrivingMeNutes Says:

      True. There is nothing like a serruptiously obtained videotape to nurture and build a trusting healthy relationship. I say go for it.

  8. ? Says:

    Look, if he has always done this, he is not going to change. Plus, it comes down to a power thing. If he concedes on this, he thinks you might start making him concede on other things. “Alpha” men, like OP’s boyfriend appears to be, simply do not acquiesce to his woman’s request obediently.
    The only way to get men like him to give an inch is to make him value you so much that he does not want to lose you. Even so, these men typically would shrug and say OK, whatever. The question to OP now is, Is this something you can live with ? If you give in on this, is he going to expect that you would also put up with potentially other bad behaviour from him ? and more importantly, is he going to see this as you having weak boundaries that he can continue to exploit ? If the answer to any of the above questions is Yes, then it is time to bail.

  9. mark Says:

    This is a tough one…. I mean that.

    Basically, from what you write he seems to have a glaring flaw. His flirting. Or as you call it inappropriate flirting.

    OK an aging local sports legend. So he is used to attention and adoration. I get it. But for whatever reason he can’t seem to move beyond that.

    The thing is he doesn’t seem to get past that point. His flirting, as you say, goes beyond appropriate. Moreover, he is dismissing and totally discounting you concerns that you raised on this point.

    In my view, if you are going to flirt, you have to be equal opportunity about it and keep it light. Otherwise is just seems to send a message that you are trolling. Quaint notion, but it just gives that impression.

    So I suppose it boils down to asking if this a deal breaker. Given this seems to be the only real issue you have with this man makes it even tougher.

    If you were to show up at a function and mirror what he does would he find that troubling? If he voiced his opinion and you discounted it would he feel slighted?

    I can’t answer that. Only you can.

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