Flirtologist Jean Smith on why flirting with your partner really matters

Things change after parenthood. Here’s why you need to rediscover flirting with your partner (and it’s not about him!)

What makes for a happy and meaningful marriage? Especially after it gets hijacked by kids and life becomes wildly different. We all know good communication is key, and a romantic dinner or date night (or flowers!) wouldn’t go astray, but it’s the little things that make a difference and can keep a relationship playful when you’re in it for the long haul. Flirting plays such a crucial role when you first meet someone you’re interested in, but we quickly neglect the art of flirting once we ‘seal the deal’. And, says social and cultural anthropologist Jean Smith, we’re missing a major trick by neglecting to flirt. We caught up with her during her last visit to Singapore to get tips on how flirting can help you become a more fluent conversationalist, give you more awareness around body language and help you see yourself in a new light. All brilliant skills that will improve your social, work and personal lives.

And about that person you’ve been with forever and know inside and out? Keeping the ‘IT’ factor in your most relationship counts. Jean gave HoneyKids the lowdown on why we need to keep flirting with our partners…

So why is flirting crucial in a long-term relationship?
To remind ourselves, and each other, that there are other facets to our lives than just the day-to-day grind.

If you’ve been with your partner forever, the idea of flirting can seem awkward. What are your tips for getting over your self-consciousness and feeling flirtatious again?
Don’t analyse it too much or make it into a big thing. It’s the small, daily actions, built up over time, that make the biggest difference. You don’t need to stop and label it as, ‘now I’m flirting’. Instead, just lean over a give him a kiss, or touch his back. Again, it’s the simple stuff.

Can you suggest a baby step for those of us who can’t think of romance with their partner without laughing?Channel how you used to act when you were dating and replicate that. You put each other first, you both made an effort to impress, you were spontaneous, interactions were light. I understand that it’s not always easy to find time, but how much time does it take to give him a hug and tell him that he looks nice today? If you invest in your partner, you will get rewards in return.

Three golden rules for flirting with your partner?
1. Don’t forget what first brought you together. Perhaps spend some time reminiscing about good memories.
2. Make time for some date nights, time spent together out of the house. It might seem like a cliche, or you might think you’re too busy, but how important is your relationship to you? This is not about how a woman needs to please the man. It’s about how a partner in a marriage can do his or her best to have a healthy relationship.
3. Stop trying to get your partner to make you feel attractive/special/interesting. Try doing that for him, and then he will do it for you (without even doing it consciously).

You’re making eye contact. Making physical contact. But your partner isn’t getting the signals – what’s plan B?
Use words!

Flirting outside of your relationship: harmless fun or disrespectful?
It depends on your intentions, and how your partner would feel about it. If it’s only harmless fun, and everyone involved knows it, it’s not a problem, as long as you know that your partner’s feelings won’t be hurt. Just because you’re in a relationship doesn’t mean your flirty side is forever forgotten. 

About Jean Smith:
Jean Smith is a social and cultural anthropologist who appears frequently in the media as an expert commentator on cultural behavior. She also writes a blog on her Flirtology website, where she provides guidance on flirting and relationships, and her book, The Flirt Interpreter: Flirting Signs from Around the World is out now.



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