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Mark Manley
Mark Manley, Counselor
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 402
Experience:  Want help with your most important relationships? Licensed Marriage/Family Counselor.
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If your partner has a history of flirtatious behaviour thats

Customer Question

If your partner has a history of flirtatious behaviour that's attempting to get attention and build their self esteem, is that a behaviour that can be modified? I believe she's committed to our relationship and truly loves me, however I believe it's a character flaw. She admits to this and wants to make this work. How do you modify her flirtatious behaviour (on TDYs or trips out of town involving drinking and younger men). She states she's been faithful, and admits to the above. Can her behaviour be modified and trust rebuilt.
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Relationship
Expert:  Mark Manley replied 6 years ago.
I will be happy to answer this question for you shortly.
Expert:  Mark Manley replied 6 years ago.
Thanks for using JustAnswer.

As an expert working with relationships for over 20 years I can tell you that this is not a lost cause.

It is a very good sign that she is able to admit her behavior and have some understanding that it is harmful to your relationship.

It is very possible that she is telling the truth regarding the extent of her involvement with these individuals as some people are very flirtatious with no intent or inclination to take things any further and they don't.

If the real motivation is feeding her self esteem the prognosis is excellent if she can learn more appropriate ways to accomplish that goal.

Can she change on her own? Doubtful! She could progress rapidly if she is determined too, and she is willing to work with a good therapist.

If you would like to answer a few questions, a little more information will help me to assist you better.

What are your ages? How long have you been together? How did you meet? Have you both had successful long term relationships before?

Thank you.
Mark Manley

Customer: replied 6 years ago.
She is 46 years old and I'm 52. We've been together for 15 months. We met on e-Harmony. She was married for 17 years and I was married for 32 years. Both of us had failed marriages...divorced obviously. She admits infidelity in her marriage, as do I. But, I'm totally committed to her...and she says she's committed to me. I do believe she loves me. How do you rebuild trust when something like this happens in a short relationship. She's moved in with me, we share a joint account, she's moved from her house and gave away new furniture, and her pets and belongings were moved into our home. She says she wants to marry is set for 2 Sep 2011. But, I need to see if I can resolve my trust issue with her. I love her, but need to resolve my suspicions and restore trust in the relationship.
Expert:  Mark Manley replied 6 years ago.
Yes I realize I haven't addressed the trust issue yet. I wanted to just lay the ground work first.


Item one: You have to be very clear with yourself that she has violated trust by flirting but you must limit your condemnation to that point.
You can look at this as

A. I can't trust her at all; because if she did this, what else is she capable of.
B. If she can behave like that and get offers and not accept them I guess she has a limit I can trust.

If you choose (B) you don't have to accept her flirtatious behavior, but you do have to put limits on your mistrust.

Item two:
She needs to fix herself so she does not have an underlying need to behave this way.
Some signs that she is willing and able to do this may be.
1. Being willing to get some therapy.
2. Being willing to account to you on a regular basis regarding this behavior.
3. Being willing to stay out of challenging circumstances if she needs to for as long as she needs to.

As you see her utilize any of the above you will begin to have evidence that she is changing into a more trustworthy partner. Slowly this evidence will give you more opportunity to choose to trust her. It is ultimately a choice only you can make. You have the responsibility to choose to trust, she has the responsibility to demonstrate trustworthy behavior.

Over time it's not as hard as it sounds if she is willing to change and you are willing to risk.

One last thought on trust: Some times hurt wears a mask called mistrust. If trust doesn't come even though our partner changes it's because we haven't dealt with the hurt. But you need not worry about that yet.

In my opinion age 45 is a good time to grow up and out of this behavior, I hope she thinks so too, but only she can make that choice. It sounds like she has a good reason in you.

Mark Manley