As my circle of Facebook friends has expanded (a direct result of my book marketing efforts), I sometimes face the lure of online flirting. And as a hormonally-unstable 50-year-old fighting a losing battle with menopause, I can personally attest that its pull can be irresistible. But should I do it?
Don’t tell me Facebook flirting is “harmless.” Obviously, it means something to somebody, or there wouldn't be so much advice out there counseling how to do it well. Online flirting is far from an inconsequential form of amusement. Why else would Facebook be implicated in an increasing number of divorces? Mobilemedia.com stated that one-third of 2011 divorce cases in England named Facebook as a cause, citing a U.K. poll in which 5,000 people designated “sending inappropriate messages to the opposite sex” as one of three major factors contributing to divorce.
Here are two apt definitions of “flirting” from dictionary.com: (1) to behave or act amorously without emotional commitment; toy or play with another’s affections; dally. (2) to deal playfully or carelessly (with something dangerous or serious); trifle: the motorcyclist flirted with death.
So flirting can be dangerous? Hmmm. I can personally attest that many, many years ago, before I was married, what began as “innocent” flirting eventually led to a full-blown affair with my (married) boss. And before we became parents, my husband's lone (as far as I know) foray into online flirting provoked a knee-jerk threat of divorce from me.
According to a recent Glamour survey, “It’s all about intention. Being attracted to someone else is natural—but if your intentions with that person mirror the ones for your significant other, you have a problem.” Good point. Ask yourself whether you would slam the laptop shut (or blacken your computer screen) if your spouse or significant other unexpectedly walked up behind you. If so, it’s because you know perfectly well that he or she would be upset by your conduct. As a recent “Dear Amy” column pointed out, the emotional contract of marriage (or any monogamous relationship) carries an implicit agreement to make every effort not to cause your partner pain or anxiety. Which is precisely why most online flirting is done in secret—because the perpetrator knows that he or she is crossing an unspoken line of loyalty and breaching an even more fundamental duty of emotional fidelity.
For these reasons, I consciously choose not to flirt on Facebook. I will admit, I have very occasionally allowed it to occur for a brief moment in “real life,” but that’s only because I’m one Estroven tablet away from being a completely dried up old prune. Nonetheless, I’d like to think I’m secure enough in my womanhood not to have to prove anything to myself by flirting with faceless strangers on Facebook. Some men, on the other hand, feel compelled to flirt—with any and all women with whom they come into (actual or virtual) contact. It’s something they must do to remind themselves that they are male. And isn’t it a shame that they need so much reminding?
Don’t kid yourselves: We’re talking about some powerful, heady stuff. So if you’re available and looking, have at it. It’s nothing short of amazing that we now have access to a (relatively) safe, anonymous forum for flexing one’s amorous muscles without leaving the comfort of our keyboards! But if you’re already lucky enough to have someone who loves you, consider yourself forewarned: You’re treading on slippery terrain; should you lose your footing, you might find yourself lying in bed crushed and alone.
Comments are closed for this blog post