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If we try to ignore this (the vicar would argue we can’t), it might mean we also ignore our basic sensuality. In Esther Perel’s recent book, Mating in Captivity, she cites research showing that over time most couples get into a sexual rut, and argues that couples can redress this partly by making their sex lives conscious and deliberate.
One way, she recommends, is to observe each others’ sensual effects on others: to give permission to flirt.
I once was on a forum with a clergyman, who gamely confessed that women assumed that because he was a married vicar, that that meant he wasn’t sexually alive. Plaintively, he cried, “I may be a married vicar, but I still have eyes, and I’m not dead from the neck down!
I’d never have an affair but these are two different things!
But if you are reassured of his fidelity to you and that he still finds you attractive you may find over time that “flirting” needn’t mean “affair.” By being open you also undermine the damaging role secrecy plays in flirting.
When does fancying someone else, giving off sexual signals in a relationship even without physical contact, constitute danger and/or betrayal?
You reassure each other, redefining activities that might have set off feelings of insecurity in the past but don’t have to now.For instance, if your ex-boyfriend’s flirting led to infidelity, you are likely to feel threatened when your partner flirts.” It’s my reading – of both research and clinical data — that what seems at stake around flirting are two things: whether you are “enough” to keep your partner and insecurity about the relationship’s future.We’re deluged with sensuality in our culture, reminding us that most are still alive from the neck down and most have eyes to see others - who are also sexual. And if we like the person we’re talking to, and he or she also pleases our senses, that inescapably confirms our own sensuality.Unsurprisingly, many couples argue about flirting and fancying others. It’s an article of faith that partners should command each other’s sexual attention.
But how far that ‘attention’ extends is not well defined; it's not always clear what constitutes an “affair”.