In a Poly Relationship and Not Sure How To Set Boundaries Around Flirting?

In a Poly Relationship and Not Sure How To Set Boundaries Around Flirting?

Is it ok for people to flirt with your partner, if you’re in a poly relationship, in a monogamous situation?

With Cathy Vartuli from and Reid Mihalko from

Reid: Cathy Vartuli from Intimacy Dojo. Reading one of our amazing watcher/listeners comments. Oh, I spit everywhere.

Cathy: Someone wrote and said, “Hi Cathy, I’ve been watching you and Reid’s video for the past three months and I’m grateful for the helpful tips that you give so generously. You can now imagine the comfort, peace, and clarity that those videos brought to my life and some of my friends also. There’s one thing that I have some confusion I’m trying to figure out. When is it not okay when you’re not poly party or you’re…

Reid: Polyamory.

Cathy: Yeah. If you’re not at a party or some event where it’s like having multiple flirt to whatever is prearranged you’re understood. What do you do when someone hits on your boyfriend or girlfriend?” I guess, from someone I understand, if you’re more on a monogamous setting and someone comes up in a monogamous frame and they hit on your boyfriend or girlfriend. “Is it a practical way to show the other person that it’s not okay? Or is it just not best to do anything. Just appreciate the person in gracious way.

Reid: That’s the question?    

Cathy: Yes.

Reid: Let’s answer that question. I’m Reid Mihalko for those of you [inaudible 00:01:14] yet, and a little bit of a jackass.

Cathy: Often but wonderful, too.

Reid: Thank you. You’re very kind. I’ll let you answer this first before I ruin the answer.

Cathy: Okay. He doesn’t always like my answers completely, but… I think part of it is talking to your partner ahead of time and figuring out what your relationship agreements are. Even if you’re in a poly, like you maybe in a very open relationship, but you can still have boundaries where you and your partner you’re in a triad, it can be a poly relationship but it still can be closed. You can be agreed not to flirt with other people. Deciding what’s a yes for you and other people. Some people like to agree with their partner before they take anything further. So flirting may or may not be on the table. Deciding with your partner ahead of time what’s agreeable in your relationship and what’s not, it could be really useful. It might not be up to you to say, “Hey, that’s my boyfriend. Back off!” or “That’s my girlfriend! Hey…”

Reid: [cat sound 00:02:19]

Cathy: It’s scaring me.

Reid: That’s awesome. [cat sound 00:02:22]

Cathy: Oh my God. He’s never going to stop now. He just ate chocolate covered espresso beans and I apologize in advanced. You’re going to do it, aren’t you?

Sorry, guys. Look at his face. It might be up to your partner to say, “Hey, listen. I’m in a committed relationship. I think that it’s very traditional, we’ve been taught we have to protect our… like if this is my boyfriend, I have to guard and make sure no one gets in there.

Reid: Box out. Like basketball. [cat sound 00:03:00]

Cathy: I am so sorry.

Reid: Answer the question.

Cathy: I don’t know he’s going to eat those. If you and your partner have agreement on what’s allowed and what’s not allowed, it might be for him to say or her to say, “Hey, I’m with this person. Flirting is not on the table.” or “It’s cool to flirt but I want you to know that my partner’s right here.”

Reid: “Or you have to flirt both of us. We’re got to flirt [crosstalk 00:03:29]

Cathy: Yeah. Whatever the agreement is.

Reid: Okay. That’s pretty good. I like to… [cat sound 00:03:34]. This is awesome. So my answer is, you can’t control other people’s behaviors. Even those of the one’s that you love. So understand that. But you certainly can’t stop people from flirting with your partner or even with you in normal situations, whether it’s a social situation, whether it’s work, whether it’s… whatever. Right?

First, understand from yourself. Breakdown what flirting means to you or what you make it mean because culturally, like you said, we’re taught to like kind of protect our territory.

Cathy: Right. And it kind of unpleasant to your partner is not capable or an adult who can take care of themselves.

Reid: Yes, there’s also an understanding… it’s not that they can’t take care of themselves is they won’t be able to stop themselves. Remember, we’re all also still reeling from our parents and culture freaking out that we went to “puberty” and turned into sexual being. Somehow like we weren’t sexual beings from we were running around naked pulling out our junk when we were four and humping things.

So the idea is, one: everyone is going to lose control. We can’t flirt because it will go too far.

Cathy: Out of control spiral.

Reid: Right. Which is from a culture of bad touch like, “Show me on the doll where the bad touch happen.” It’s never like, “Jane, Jimmy show us on the doll where they touch too good and it felt great and life became ecstatic and you saw the stars in the universe come to… like-

Cathy: We won’t playing doctor with Jimmy from next door.

Reid: We never talk about it like that. Everyone has weird family histories and just childhood histories like, “Sex is weird in our culture because we make it weird.” Flirting is associated with sex that’s why it’s weird and you have the right to feel comfortable or uncomfortable about stuff. That’s all.

Have a conversation about yourself about what flirting means. What your concern about or confused about so you can have more clear conversations with your partner about, “Hey, this is some of the things I noticed from myself around flirting. How about you?” and then you’re having conversation about that. When we’re at advanced, poly or not, the way I’m reading the question or hearing it, is in poly situations flirting maybe is okay but in non-poly situations is [crosstalk 00:06:21].

Cathy: Well, I think from my experience, in a poly community there’s a lot more you can talk about this a lot more openly and say, “Hey, I’m in a relationship. Flirting’s okay but I can’t. I have agreed with my partner I’m not going to sleep with them. Someone else unless we… Whatever it is.

Reid: Monogamous people can flirt too and it’s still be okay. My question is, regardless of the situation, what is the policy if you guys is a couple about when people flirt with you or when you want to flirt with people and what do you guys make that mean and how can you leave each other feeling loved, honored and cherished. When you’re feeling loved, honored and cherished, usually there’s a lot more space for people to be playful and to have fun with other people, which in my book, being playful and having fun with other people, that’s flirting. You’re flirting, you’re playing, you’re having fun it doesn’t have to lead anywhere. If it’s appropriate for you to flirt and haven’t lead somewhere, you should tell everybody and that, “Hey, I’m flirting with you. In my relationships, I can flirt and have this goes somewhere…

Cathy: And no one’s going to get…

Reid: Is that okay or should we just flirt and it’s not going to go anywhere.” It’s really about checking in, which is kind of a black bold move. But monogamous or not, checking you with people may, “I’m feeling really playful with you.” and might occur to you as flirting. I’m cool with you but I think we should just define our terms. How would you like to do that?”

You can be fateful even with that geeky kind, for me that’s a very geeky approach but it’s telling everybody what’s going on.

Cathy: Actually, I found a really fun way to … I was flirting with someone in an event. To Reid like [inaudible 00:08:12] like there wasn’t any like, “Let’s jump on, jump each other’s bones.” I hug them to [inaudible 00:08:16] it was so fun flirting with you and his face lit up. It was really fun.

Reid: So many of us still have that 6th, 5th, 7th grade [inaudible 00:08:25]. You will be fine if people just liked being playful with me. You don’t even have to like them, like them, like them or they like you, like you, like it. Just like it, it’s just fun.

Cathy: There is a video I loved and cherished on this channel.

Reid: It is?

Cathy: Yeah

Reid: Awesome.

Cathy: You did one. It’s a good one.

Reid: Smart thinking about that.

Cathy: And Reid has some great articles about it on his website too.

Reid: I hope this helps. We went a lot of different directions but when in doubt, remember [cat sound 00:08:54].

Cathy: Oh my God.

Reid: That’s awesome.


More articles on improving your communication and relationship skills:

If You Giggle When You’re Nervous, How Do You Let People Know You’re Not Flirting?

Did Your Partner “Steal” Your Latest Crush?

By | 2016-09-23T14:55:12+00:00 March 14, 2017|Dating, Flirting, Relationship Skills, Sex Geeks|