I have been flirting with my colleagues during lockdown

Thursday August 06 2020
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I started responding to the flirtatious attempts made by my male colleagues when lockdown started. My husband was constantly busy with work and did not have any time for me so this was my sweet little secret indulgence. But now that we have to get back to work, I am feeling terribly scared. I have started limiting chats with them but I fear it will all come back at me. How do I handle this situation? Anonymous

Dear Anonymous,

Flirting, according to the dictionary is to court triflingly or act amorously without serious intentions; play at love; coquet. Flirting can be interpreted differently according to one’s gender.

Flirting also varies with cultures such as how closely people should stand and even how much touching is appropriate. It is important to learn the social etiquette of the people you meet and flirt with as it can be interpreted differently inasmuch as some times, flirting can be universal.

It is common at the workplace for male and female workers to flirt with each other, especially due to the proximity and time people spend together.
Although flirting is a natural and healthy way to forge friendship and bond with people who are not your partner, it is important to observe the boundaries as studies confirm that sex is usually the driving factor.

Like you mentioned that your husband has been busy and did not give you quality time during this lockdown period, it is, therefore, important for you to recognize how this made you feel and share it with your husband.
Marriage needs constant communication. You could be enjoying the flirting as a coping strategy of what is happening in your relationship currently.

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However, remember, you will not be head over heels with your husband all the time, so during such moments, be intentional to talk to your husband how you feel and also find out if he too is struggling with work issues that could be taking away even your intimate time.
The moment you recognize that your flirting is getting too far, it means you want to recover from this before it destroys your official relationship.

It is also important to note that we have both healthy and unhealthy flirting. Healthy flirting is a gift offered not in order to manipulate, but out of a pleasure at perceiving what is most attractive in another. To find out whether what you are doing is healthy or not, ask yourself some evaluating questions such as:

Do I feel jealous when the person is flirting with another person? Do I carry them everywhere on my mind? Can I do the same thing if my partner is around?
If you are uncomfortable flirting with these people around your husband for example, then it is a signal that what you are doing is unhealthy that might end up harming your relationship.

One of the ways for you to start on a new page as you get back to the office is by you not flirting back. If your workmates touch you inappropriately, try to be direct by saying phrases like, “I feel uncomfortable when you touch or hold me in such a way”.

When you stop the things that encouraged the flirting in the first place, it will go a long way in teaching your colleagues how to treat you henceforth.
Decide not to discuss your personal life and instead dwell more on office work with your colleagues and if they insist, say, “I try not to discuss my personal life at the office”.

Behaviour is usually learnt and can, therefore, be unlearned if you so decide. If you try everything and they insist, then talk to your human resource officer or workplace counsellor about it as the saying goes, “a problem shared is a problem solved”.
Evelyn Evelyn Kharono Lufafa, Counselling psychologist

Reader advice

Don’t ruin your marriage
Carol Mukisa Cartnel: Block all the potential marriage spoilers and move on with your husband. Please stop chasing for the stones and ignoring your precious gold. Those you are flirting with literally have nothing to offer. Soon or later, you will be trapped into real cheating because flirting is the primary stage of infidelity. Flee my friend, flee!

Stop texting
Gôdfréy Sântó: Stop communication if he approaches you tell him you’re married period.
Block them all
Phoebe Miriam: As long as it was just flirting, just disconnect from them and face your marriage! It’s just a matter of blocking or stopping communication.

Self-control is key
Grace Mukambo: As long as you are just flirting and can control yourself, I think you are not doing anything wrong. Flirting is a natural expression of your libido, lust for life, and playfulness, it keeps your partner from taking you for granted, it makes you feel alive, it makes you feel attractive (at least when it is reciprocated) and, it reminds you of the dance between people who are alive to sensuality.

Use you head
Billy Mubarak: Use your head woman, when playing with fire, there is always the potential to get burned. I have many people push the envelope when flirting and getting themselves into hot water with their spouses by being a little too obvious in their engagement with other men. What does your relationship mean to you? If you value it, stop what you are doing right now.

Fix your marriage
Christopher Querrty: Instead of wasting your effort on other men why don’t you address the real issue? Flirting, may point to something in the relationship or in the individual. Find ways to communicate to your husband what you want instead of this. Never forget why you married the person you did. You’re with them because you love them, and you love flirting with them too. Always remember that there is a real person beneath all of your flirtations and that person is not even close to who your spouse is.

Set boundaries
Rebecca Mutui: Your mind might be thinking you are just passing time while your husband is busy when in actual sense you have been contemplating relationships with the people you are flirting with. Are you doing it randomly, or you have a certain type? Many office romances start out like this and I can tell you they never end well. There is a fine line between innocent flirting and harmful flirting. It’s okay to flirt every now and then with someone when it’s completely innocent, but you should never take it to a point that you would be ashamed if your spouse found out. So think it through before you go too far.

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