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Misunderstood: The Flirt?

Have you ever dated, or maybe you married someone, who talks to everyone who crosses his or her path?

Maybe you haven’t dated or married this person, but you know them. They are your sibling, your friend, or your co-worker.

If you have dated or married this kind of person, chances are good that at every restaurant outing, your partner chats up the server at your table. Perhaps your significant other offers compliments, asks questions and listens intently to the responses, and offers information about the two of you in exchange.

Perhaps he or she laughs or smiles with strangers and would be described as likable, friendly, encouraging, or animated.

I’m confident to guess they talk to people in line at stores and are the first to break the silence in an elevator – maybe with a joke or other witty comment.

Or, maybe this sounds like you.

I was involved with a person who possessed these traits when I was younger. How we are wired, plus our experiences, determine how we react and respond to a person with these characteristics.

For example, I have a tendency to be a private person. I don’t enjoy being the center of attention, nor do I like to overshare private details with people just for the sake of sharing. I will, however, share when I desire to make a connection with certain individuals, or if sharing something personal could benefit the receiver.

Knowing these things about me helps you understand my typical response:

“Do you need to share details of our private lives with every server we meet at a restaurant?”

If you’ve been hurt because of infidelity, your reaction might be assuming your significant other is flirting with or hitting on a person. If he or she tends to be full of smiles and behaves in a friendly, talkative manner to everyone, it’s possible to only notice these gestures when they are directed at a person we think is attractive - or suspect our partner thinks is attractive.

If you’re an introvert, it’s possible the expansion of your social circle when out in public with your partner becomes overstimulating.

If you are a humble person, you might interpret outgoing traits as attention-seeking behavior.

If you tend to have an area of insecurity – as people often do - from life experiences such as a critical parent, abandonment, or abuse, certain situations can be an emotional trigger from your past rather than related to your partner.

You can begin to see why misunderstandings are so common. We misunderstand our partner’s motives and they, in turn, misunderstand why we’re bothered in the first place.

They might assume we don’t trust them, for example.

In reality, a person might exhibit the behavior al traits I’ve outlined because of their natural talents. There are several strengths such as WOO (Winning Others Over), Communication, Connectedness, and Positivity, which compel people to talk to new people. When you combine other personality traits like enthusiasm, warmth, and high energy, it can be easily mistaken for interest beyond a desire to connect with other human beings.

In these situations, we can dig deeper to discover why the behavior bothers us. Then we can work to find a compromise. Asking a person to suppress who they are is like asking them to hold their breath for five minutes, whether you ask them to stop talking to people, to make decisions faster, or to ask fewer questions.

In this particular situation you could try explaining where you’re coming from and the why behind it, rather than making comments about their behavior:

“I’m a private person [insert your motivation] and since I’m not an extrovert, it overwhelms me [insert the impact to you] when conversations with strangers become to personal [insert the behavior that is disconcerting to you]. Can we compromise so you get what you need while also avoiding this impact to me?”

When we understand why people behave certain ways, compassion is created. When we understand people, we can assume positive intentions. Everyone is just trying to get their needs met.

Awareness of ourselves and others also helps us proactively meet each others needs.


Need help discovering yourself and another person in your life? You can get a personalized YouMap® profile (ages 15 - 120!) or work with a YouMap® Coach to help you understand your strengths, values, motivating skills, and personality-based interests.

Cover photo credit: Alexis Brown

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