Brian and Angela Anderson move forward after tragedy. Photos by Keith Borgmeyer As you turn down the long gravel path toward the Andersons’ home...
Almost every relationship starts with flirting. It’s an enticing look or a soft touch. If the flirtation is from someone of interest, you get that special feeling in your stomach, goose bumps and the anticipation of what’s to come. The exploration begins.
Because Gene and I met on the phone, we flirted through spoken word. We talked for hours before we had the opportunity to meet face to face, and our flirtatious words helped to raise the anticipation of what it would be like to actually meet. Once we met, flirting became an important and ongoing part of our relationship.
Today, many new relationship flirtations occur online. It’s the act of painting yourself in words, sending nudges, Internet smiles and icons that create interest and desire. It frequently entails long hours spent on the computer. The techno age of flirting creates a vision in your mind’s eye with the hopes that it resembles reality.
During the flirting or exploration phase, we all put our best foot forward, dress and behave to entice. What impact would it have if that flirting and exploration became a part of your relationships two or 30 years later? Imagine what would happen if you suddenly began flirting with your significant other every day as though you had to win him or her over again.
One of my favorite ways to flirt with Gene is to gently rub his fingers. Gene has huge hands, so I use both of my hands to massage each one of his fingers and then work to his palm. There is something primal about the connection we make through this simple flirting touch.
FUN WAYS TO FLIRT
1. Put a loving thought on your significant other’s steering wheel so it’s what he or she thinks about while going to work.
2. At random times, hug your significant other and share three things you love about his or her. Ask him or her to do the same to you.
3. Let your significant other pick out the underwear you’re going to wear to work or on a date night.
4. Choose a “touch zone” of the day/week where you would most like to be touched.
Most relationships have conflict at some point. Unchecked conflicts result in a fight. There might be raised voices, certainly raised emotions and even questions about the relationship.
Couples aren’t trained on how to fight effectively, and how you handle conflict is modeled by how your family reacted to conflict. Fighting is also influenced by your emotional maturity. Few people fight with the thought of reaching an acceptable solution; you fight to win or have your point of view accepted.
Most fights boil down to issues in two areas: poor communication or the sense of being disrespected. For example, you plan a barbecue with the family after your significant other has told you there is a big football game. Poor communication has started a fight. Or, if your significant other makes a large purchase without letting you know, and it compromises the ability to pay the light bill, you feel disrespected.
What would happen if at the very moment conflict started, you asked, “What’s the goal of this fight?” Suddenly, your conflict becomes goal oriented rather than win oriented. Having a spoken goal also eliminates another pitfall of fighting, which is bringing up old baggage. Going beyond the bounds of the current conflict does not help to reach your goal.
About four years into my relationship with Gene, I discovered that he is a visual person. I realized that if I had important information to share about anything, communication was best done by email or writing the message on a sticky note. Suddenly, communication improved. Email fighting also became effective. Email fights seldom escalate, and typing forces you to look at your own thoughts and take a minute to analyze if they are working toward your goal.
RULES OF CONFLICT
1. Determine the goal.
2. Stick to the current conflict.
3. No name calling or personal attacks.
In my experience, flirting is far more fun than fighting, so I suggest you get your flirt on and make some goose bumps.
On average, someone sending out 35 flirtatious signals per hour will be approached by four romantic prospects during that time period. ****
You have to look at someone three times before they’ll take the hint that you’re into them. To activate the reward center of the brain, hold their gaze for two to three seconds. Nonromantic glances last only 1.18 seconds.****
Studies show that men and women who flirt have more white blood cells in their body. These cells are known to boost immunity and overall health.*
Studies show that men looking at pictures of angry faces have diminished activity in regions of the brain responsible for understanding others’ feelings, while women experience increased brain activity in those same regions.**
The majority of conflicts between couples — about 80 percent, according to psychologist Brad Klontz — are unsolvable. It’s really about learning to deal with the differences. This might mean having to compromise or just agreeing to disagree.***
During a fight, your brain’s cortex shuts down, and the more primitive part of your brain, the limbic system, takes over. It takes about 20 minutes for your brain to be able to return to rational thinking.***
****Kelly, M. (2009, July). Four Flirting Fun Facts — With Research to Back Them Up! Marie Claire.