Flirting between two people can be fun, sexy and harmless...unless, of course, one of those two people is already in a committed relationship with someone else!

When you are the one who watches (or hears about) your partner flirting with another person, it can be emotionally painful and it can also bring up a lot of questions, doubts and suspicions within you.

For example, you might wonder, “Why doesn't she flirt with ME like that? I am her boyfriend after all!”

Or, you may ask yourself, “How far would he go with his flirtatious advances toward her, if I weren't sitting right here? Would he have (or is he having) an affair?”

It is very true that some people are more extroverted and flirtatious than others. If you are in a love relationship or marriage with someone who is a flirt, you might be wondering where to draw the line.

What is the boundary between being social and friendly with others and being inappropriate and flirty?

Jennifer has always been a reserved and quiet person. She is sometimes amazed that she married such an extroverted guy like Brett. Even though she loves to spend time home alone with Brett, every weekend, Jennifer willingly attends parties and goes out dancing with him.

She does have fun...until Brett begins to flirt.

He very openly talks, laughs, hugs, dances with and even kisses other women right in front of Jennifer. She has tried to be more flirty with Brett and has also tried to chase away any other women in the vicinity when they are out together-- none of these tactics diminish his flirting.

It seems to Jennifer that Brett loves to flirt with lots of women. She doesn't know how to get the message across to him that it hurts her when he does this and it weakens the trust in their relationship.

You choose where to draw the line.
When you are with a partner who flirts, it can be tricky. It is likely that your mate is oblivious to the fact that he or she is upsetting you. Flirting may be the way that your partner has learned to interact with others and it's “just the way he or she is.”

This doesn't mean that you have to sit there and watch, wonder, get furious or jealous.

Take some time to go within yourself and come up with the types of behavior that are “non-negotiable” to you regarding your partner and the flirting.

For example, you might be uncomfortable when your partner talks with other men or women and is “too close” to them. But, you may be absolutely unwilling to have your partner kiss or slow dance with others.

You could even make a list of all of the ways that your mate flirts-- the actual actions-- and then highlight or circle those actions that you find unacceptable, the things that you feel most strongly about.

Avoid name calling and ultimatums.
When you do sit down and talk with your partner about his or her flirting and about your relationship, we encourage you to keep your list, and particularly those circled actions, in mind.

It is probably NOT wise for you to present your list to your mate and demand that he or she follow your rules or you are out of here. Unless you are willing to follow through on an ultimatum, it's best to avoid using that tactic.

If your ultimate goal is to move closer to your partner, you will want to communicate in ways that promote openness and honesty.

This means that you will want to avoid name calling too.

Instead, use “I feel” statements. These are specific phrases that help you to share how you feel when you see your partner flirting-- without putting him or her on the defensive.

For example, Jennifer says to Brett, “When I see you kiss another woman, even on the cheek, I feel fearful that you are having an affair with her. I also feel neglected and unloved by you at those times.”

Jennifer does not assume that she knows Brett's motivations when he flirts in this way. But she does let him know how she feels when she sees this and how it relates to trust in their marriage.

Make requests and create agreements together.
As you and your partner talk, find resolutions that you both can feel good about by making requests and then creating agreements together.

You might want to start with your non-negotiable list. Pick one behavior and ask your partner if he or she is willing to refrain from this specific behavior when interacting with others.

Explain that this is important to you and remind your mate that your intention is to strengthen trust in your relationship. Be sure to use “I feel” statements to convey why this is an important agreement to you.

Depending on how your partner responds to your request, you may choose to re-think your non-negotiable or to stand firm about it. Either way, really feel into yourself as you two talk.

Give yourself permission to ask your partner for some time to think about this more. Set up a specific date and time when you will re-visit this topic.

Author's Bio: 

Find out more communication tips that can help you talk honestly and openly with your partner about difficult topics in Susie and Otto Collins' free communication secrets mini-course.

Susie and Otto Collins are relationship coaches and authors who help couples communicate, connect and create the passionate relationships they desire. They have written these e-books and programs: Magic Relationship Words, Relationship Trust Turnaround, No More Jealousy and Stop Talking on Eggshells among many others.