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When at a party with my partner, someone was flirting with him and kept putting her hand on his leg. I found myself becoming very jealous, but didn't say anything, and got more and more angry, as he just kept laughing and seemed to enjoy the attention. This anger built up and we argued after the party was over.

Obviously this is something that needs to be discussed and worked out between a couple.

What would be a good way to handle, during the party, without coming across as overly jealous or spoiling the fun mood?

9

There are good answers here already about how to directly either get out of that situation or address the issue with your partner, but I'm going to take a different approach and suggest a shift in your own thinking.

If your partner is trustworthy and faithful to you, then another woman hitting on him is not a threat to you or your relationship, and is really just an affirmation that your partner is desirable. So try to take it as a compliment!

Because my wife and I have a solid relationship (and did even back when we were just dating), she actually loves it when other women hit on me at parties. She finds it hilarious to see me try to steer them away from the flirtation (I can be a bit awkward in those situations), and I think she likes seeing confirmation that even though other people may be interested in me, my interests lie entirely with her. Same goes for when other men hit on her, she likes the attention and social affirmation, and when she's happy, I'm happy. We both know that at the end of the night it's the two of us who are going home together, and no amount of flirtation from others is going to change that.

On the other hand if your partner is not faithful to you, this will be a good situation for revealing that in them. If that turns out to be the case (or you already knew that to be the case), then in most situations it seems to me that you are better off without that person. Trying to fight against a partner's impulses for infidelity seems excruciating and stressful, definitely not worth it. Find a relationship in which you can feel safe and secure and you will save yourself a lot of grief in the future.

  • I think a big part of your experience with your wife is that you actively discourage the flirting. If that's not true in OP's case, I feel like that's a big problem that also needs to be addressed. – Nic Hartley Mar 23 '18 at 18:25
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    Yeah, I didn't intend this to be an answer to the entire situation, just one facet of it. If the OP has reason to believe that their partner is being unfaithful, then that obviously changes the situation entirely – Kevin Wells Mar 23 '18 at 20:28
  • I wouldn't even go as far as to say OP has to think their partner is unfaithful -- the partner could simply be oblivious, or not know how to bring it up, or uncomfortable with bringing it up for one reason or another (maybe the person is well known as a drama queen, who would throw a tantrum if her advances were outright rebuffed). I was looking to clarify that your experience is a bit different, so the specific details might not be applicable, even though the overall advice absolutely is. – Nic Hartley Mar 23 '18 at 20:33
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    My point is that if you don't think your partner is going to be unfaithful, then why does the flirting bother you? Even if I didn't actively discourage the flirting my wife would know that I am not going to cheat on her, so it still wouldn't bother her. If I were to be inappropriately flirting back then she might care because it would suggest that I might cheat on her, but again, the underlying problem is the suspicion of cheating – Kevin Wells Mar 25 '18 at 2:34
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If possible, something should be done while it is happening.

Move. If you are sitting, ask him to get a you drink (or some other request that will allow you both to move). Then, while he gets up and leaves, simply excuse yourself. Once you are both in motion, make sure to end in a different spot. This of course only will work if there's no assigned seating.

While he is away, simply tell him how he is making you feel, and ask him to correct the situation. My guess is even a subtle change can alter the conditions that make this situation no longer possible. If movement is not possible, you may have to just whisper in his ear.

It's quite possible he is simply not aware of what is happening (this has happened to me). Making it known will prompt him (as it did me) to change the dynamic.

21

Ideally you want to have conversations about this subject before it happens. Realistically, unless you want an awkward situation in the moment, you need to clarify expectations in advance.

Talk with your partner, it doesn't have to be a long conversation, but make sure you both know how the other feels about this. It's entirely possible your partner didn't even realize it was bothering you.

Now, in the moment:

  • Try to get a moment to talk with your partner alone. If they care about you at all, saying, "hey I am pretty uncomfortable with how X is acting towards you" should cause them to adjust how they are responding
  • Repositioning is useful (everyone has to use the restroom eventually so it will eventually be possible...)
  • Changing activities can be helpful, asking your partner to join you to do X instead will break up what is happening

As a note, many guys are oblivious to this sort of thing but women seem acutely aware of when something is flirting or not. Try to not see it as your partner "actively enjoying someone flirting with him" and I suspect it may help with reducing anger towards him.

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    nice answer - one thing I've noticed that this person "X" is mentioned a lot on this site, I'd like to get my hands on this individual :D – user57 Jun 28 '17 at 16:03
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    @YvetteColomb your partner might not appreciate that ;-) – enderland Jun 28 '17 at 16:04
  • Ha ha... excellent response, enderland. Considering how applicable that is to the topic of the original question, very nice response indeed. (Deserves way more than the two upvotes it currently has.) – TOOGAM Jul 26 '17 at 4:37
16

Apart from the aforementioned discussion with your partner, a very simple, subtle, non-confrontational approach is to ask for an introduction.

Something along the lines of:

"Hey, honey¹ why don't you introduce me to your friend²?"

  1. Honey may be replaced with whatever term of endearment you normally use.
  2. Friend may be replaced with whatever context appropriate term, coworker, acquaintance or whatever.

Or you could walk up and introduce yourself.

"Hi, I'm <insert name here>, I see you've met my wonderful husband/boyfriend/spouse/whatever, <insert partner's name here>"

Usually in these situations no one means any harm, they simply didn't know the relationship status of the person they were talking to. It can be pretty painlessly defused with a quick introduction.

4

Sometimes I've seen couples arrive, give a kiss in the mouth (maybe some words I love you, etc.), look them in their eyes and its all is needed to deter inappropriate flirting.

Other suggestion is talk with your couple and set bounds. Talk to them and say you're feeling uncomfortable seeing them tough you "to your partner"; maybe both can come to a solution.

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    yes, marking the territory - or I could've sat on his lap! I never thought of that at the time (a long time ago) – user57 Jun 28 '17 at 16:00
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One time, a man began flirting with my date.

So I approached his date (actually one of my "exes,") and told her that I did not appreciate the attention her date was paying to mine, "and more to the point, it's not in your interest either."

So the man's date found a way to distract him and order was restored.

  • yes, not a bad idea, except this girl was single at the time. – user57 Jun 29 '17 at 16:32
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    @YvetteColomb: It doesn't have to be the woman's date; maybe a woman friend, a mutual friend (male or female) or the hostess or anyone else. The idea was to enlist the support of anyone that might have an interest in not seeing this woman make a fool of herself. And not having to do the "dirty work" yourself. – Tom Au Jun 29 '17 at 18:05
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IMO, this is mainly on the responsibility of your partner. I know that if my partner was being hit on and she knew it made me feel uncomfortable then she would end it immediately. You could bring this up to her by leading by example. Next time a guy hits on you tell your partner. Then pause, silence is crucial here... you want it to feel as awkward as possible. Then proceed to assure him how you ended the flirting and what your feelings are on the issue.

If it keeps happening even though your partner knows how you feel about it and realizes that he is being hit on, then I'd wonder why he needs this extra attention and whether his disrespectful behavior is tolerable.

  • I think you make a good point - if the partner laps it up, it's not good for the relationship – user57 Aug 4 '17 at 15:22
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    This can easily backfire. Whenever my girlfriend tells me "some guy tried to flirt with me", my answer is always "good for you, too bad for him". Your partner might not feel the same way about flirting as you do. – Erik Aug 17 '17 at 8:38

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