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How to tame a serial flirt

Scared of going to the bathroom just in case your man runs to get that hot waitress’ digits? It’s time to work out if he’s a player or just Mr Friendly.

2:18PM, Jan 6

Some guys can flirt like they’re Colin Farrell without even breaking into a sweat. Dating a guy like this can send you spiralling into paranoia every time he leaves your sight. And it’s to these men that we dedicate this article.

Because, as we all know, there’s a big difference between innocent flirting and, well, running out of memory on your mobile phone book because of all the digits you’ve scored. Here’s how to deal when you’re dating Mr Flirt.

The Charmer vs The Cheater

There are two types of flirters, The Charmer and The Cheater. If you’re dating a charmer, then there’s no need to stress because he’s getting friendly just to be, um, friendly.

Cheaters, on the other hand, will be pulling out all the moves to actually pick-up, and they’re the ones you have to watch. How can you tell which box your man belongs
to? Easy, it’s all about his intention.

“Harmless flirting is about flattering the other person,” says Andrew Bryant, co-author of The Street Guide To Flirting (Allen & Unwin, $19.95). “Laughing and chatting casually with other women is fine because he’s just being a nice guy. But if he’s fishing for compliments, then that’s anything but harmless.”

Watch for the signals. Does he initiate the flirting or just react to other people he bumps into? If he chats to someone at the bar but then comes straight back to you, cocktail in hand, and says, “Now, you were talking about your grandma?”, then he’s a charmer not a cheater.

Picking up déjà vu

Take note of how much attention he pays to you when you’re out together as well and compare his current behaviour to how he was when you first met. Guys have one bag of tricks when it comes to hooking up, so look out for his signature moves. He could be using the techniques he used on you on another unsuspecting girl. 

“About a year into my last relationship, I noticed James* would touch girls on the arm when he spoke to them,” says Karen, 23.

“I didn’t want to look like the possessive girlfriend so I just brushed it off. But when he started whispering in their ears and disappearing around the corner for private chats I knew something was up. This was exactly how he reeled me in!

“When I confronted him about the flirting, he totally denied it. But, sure enough, not even three weeks later, he broke it off. Apparently he ‘needed some space’.”

Getting him to quit it

Before you scream “Look at me!” the next time your guy smiles at someone else, just check yourself before you overreact. You can’t expect your man to snub every woman who comes within a five-metre radius, but if his behaviour is really making you uncomfortable, then you’ve got to speak up.

Pick a time when you’re alone with him and just broach the subject casually. “There’s a good chance he’s just not aware that his actions are inappropriate,” says counsellor Judy Boyland. Also specifically point out what type of behaviour you’re okay and not okay with, that way he’ll know exactly how to change.

Go about it the right way and, provided your boyfriend is not Colin Farrell’s twin, he should be able to kick the habit pretty quickly. No-one should really be working the room when they’re already attached.

*Name has been changed.

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