Why Flirting With Strangers Makes My Marriage Work

A few months ago, I turned to my husband, Lawrence, and said, “I need a new internet boyfriend.” His response? “Let’s go find you one.”

I know; you’re very confused right now. Why am I talking about extramarital flirting with my husband as if I’d asked for a tissue? Two words, which won’t clear anything up yet: modified monogamy.

I’ll explain.

You know how after watching Captain America: Civil War, you were either Team Cap or Team Iron Man? (I’m the latter, but that’s a different conversation.) This kind of forced dichotomy happens with relationships a lot. You’re either dating or you’re not. You’re monogamous or you’re open. There is no room for anything else.

But similar to the spectrum of sexuality, Lawrence and I subscribe to the idea that relationships are fluid. While couples can certainly be one thing or its opposite, they can also be something in the middle. And that’s where we hang out. We modified our definition of monogamy because it seemed pointless and potentially harmful to pretend like we’ll never find other people attractive again.

Don’t get it twisted; Lawrence completes me Jerry Maguire-style. I love his face, his sense of humor and the fact that he loves A Song of Ice and Fire so much he might literally have a heart attack when/if The Winds of Winter is released. But at the same time, I am a human woman, and I occasionally need outside validation. And the same goes for Lawrence (about validation, anyway).

What we get from engaging in light side flirting isn’t something that’s missing from our relationship. We flirt with each other all the time — often in pop-culture references. Acquaintances have been surprised by how much we still like each other after nine years together. So this isn’t like, “Oh, my husband never flirts with me; I need to look elsewhere.” This is simply a secondary affection outlet. (Or even tertiary once you fold in how often my best friend and I say we’d be an amazing lesbian couple.)

This works for us because, in a way, it ensures we’re always being open with each other. I know what he’s up to and vice versa. We’re like Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith — nothing’s going down without telling each other first. This level of communication keeps us emotionally and mentally connected, which is why I can verbalize my desire to flirt with random dudes and Lawrence feels free to chat up some chick on Reddit.

I’m not trying to say we solved jealousy. Much like unsolicited advice on the internet, it’s just something that exists. And I’ve been guilty of it. Early on, I thought Lawrence’s predilection for internet friendships was a reflection on me. But when I started regularly chatting with an old crush, I realized it actually had no bearing on the state of my relationship. It’s just fun to have a friend you can make the occasional sex pun with — and I happen to be great at those. Ask around.

Modified monogamy isn’t the lynchpin to our relationship. It’s just one factor of many that reaffirm I picked the right man to spend my life with. But taking this approach, if I’d even call it that, allows us to unapologetically be who we are. Those people just happen to be a couple of shameless flirts.

So, that being said… tell your cute male friends to hit me up! *Wink*

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