Why Does My Husband Flirt With Other Women?

A reader asks, “In all other ways, he is a great husband. He is a good man and doesn’t cheat on me. Also, he is a good father to our children. But when we are at Starbucks or a restaurant, he always flirts with the girls who take our order.”

why does my husband flirt

“I pretend it doesn’t bother me, but it makes me feel like I’m on a date with someone who is always looking for a better catch. It’s humiliating, as I stand there trying to smile. Why does my husband flirt?”

“I have read about standing up to my husband and telling him how I feel, but I know him. I don’t think it would work. He would get angry and call me insecure. Then he would tell me something like, ‘I married you, didn’t I?'”

Our Response

There are biological reasons why your husband might still be looking around that are worth sharing, if that is what he is actually doing. But, he is probably just showing you he is still “cool.” Sometimes, it is that simple.

Many years ago, there was a comedian named Flip Wilson who was famous for saying, “The devil made me do it.” It got a laugh every time. But what really “makes us” do things are our two main biological drives. The first is our drive to survive (which we won’t discuss here). The second is our drive to procreate. It’s not so much “the devil” making us do bad things all the time as it is these pesky drives.

The drive to procreate doesn’t affect men and women the same way, as you well know. It tells women to nurture and protect their children and expresses itself various beautiful ways.

But the drive to procreate in men is simple, though not as kind: S-E-X. The drive screams at men to perform and then move on. If not for inner wisdom, social pressures, and personal restraint, it would still be a jungle out there.

Men override their drive to procreate in order to get along with others. The men who make it look like it’s no sweat to override those urges are either good at hiding it or have a clinical reason for a reduced sex drive. Some wiser men have made it a habit to divert that constant energy to other creative endeavors.

The actual reasons your husband flirts are unknown to him, otherwise he wouldn’t do it. He doesn’t want to hurt you; he just wants you to understand him. His openness about it sends a message of trust. I think he trusts you enough to reveal what we can call his “boyishness.”

Is it okay that he does it?

There is no perfect relationship or perfect behavior in this world. Plus, you describe some qualities he has in very positive ways. He is a great dad and he is a great husband. Also, he clearly is not hiding something. I wouldn’t say a word, nor entertain the desire for him to change. It would be better if he did, but this is far from a marriage buster.

Since you are having difficulties, I have some suggestions that will help put you at ease:

  1. Re-frame his behavior in your own mind. Instead of judging him—which is uncalled for—consider this silly behavior. Refuse to let your mind convince you of feeling threatened. Try to see it as “cute,” so you can smile at him when he is flirting.
  2. Engage right along with him. If you jump into the conversation with your own compliments for the servers, it will change the dynamic from flirtatious to friendly. Your added energy will lighten things up.
  3. Disallow negative thoughts about your husband. It’s your mind, and you can make it think and feel how you want. Your habits are also under your control. You can create all kinds of positive thinking in your mind. This will bring you happiness. That happiness you feel will be a wonderful part of your marriage.

Your husband is a great treasure in life. Love him, show him you love him, and everything will be OK.

23 thoughts on “Why Does My Husband Flirt With Other Women?

  1. Todd Reply

    I for one find it TOTALLY DISRESPECTFUL for a man to flirt with another woman right there in front of his wife!!! And I don’t care what reasons are given for his doing so because the bottom line is that he’s married and supposed to be FULLY COMMITED to his wife and have eyes for her ONLY!!!!!!!!!!

    • Paul Friedman Post authorReply

      I agree with you Todd; 100%…However, we deal with what is real, not what is imagined to be. None of us are perfect, and acceptance of your spouses flaws, and how THEY deal with them, is essential for happiness.

  2. Debra Reply

    I’m dealing with my 63 yo husband( 12 yrs older than me) being inappropriate with the. Opposite sex also he never compliments me/ Men if you want to be married you wouldn’t be flirting with and complimenting other women and giving your wife zero attention- ladies move on don’t settle for that crap there’s a man who would appreciate you and have eyes only for you or st least enough respect for you to control there eyes and actions in your presence- imagine what he’s doing when your not around- he’s testing the waters and one day opportunity will come knocking snd lets face it his actions show the extent of his loyalty- trust me I’ve been there and I deserve better as do all of you😞

    • Paul Friedman Post authorReply

      So often I hear this kind of think coming from women, but they never tell the other side of the coin. Of course your husband should not be inappropriate with anyone, ever. But are we to trust that you are a loving wife who lures your husband in with love and smiles? Men are no more perfect than women. Unless you learn how to create the love in your home that your husband married you for you will not have it, and you will have him pulling away from you…
      Work on your own behaviors first. Then, when you are perfect, complain about your husband.

  3. Mitch Reply

    When love is true, a spouse doesn’t need to flirt. Both of you are supposed to protect each other from unnecessary hurt.

    • Paul Friedman Post authorReply

      That is true. But the same can be said about other “shoulds”..Best to learn how to be married, and avoid the 3 C’s

    • Paul Friedman Post authorReply

      easy to say, Mitch. People need more than you should this, or you should do that

  4. Lynn Reply

    Open flirting only hurts and humiliates, not to mention is embarrassing when your spouse is so immature and insecure that he needs the attention (sometimes not welcomed) from wait staff, friends (sometimes welcomed). It’s not just the spouse who doesn’t flirt with others who feels insecure, it’s that “drive” or need for the flirt to feel like he’s desired. Apparently respect is out the window. I am of the opinion that flirting in front of the spouse is only indicative that it doesn’t stop there. It will lead to other things. Been there, done that.

    • Paul Friedman Post authorReply

      Your husband should not be flirting, obviously. But you are so hard on him, and although it is easy to measure one flaw against the other, and think it is objective, it is still negatively impacting your husband… as I am sure this is not the only judgment you put on him. If you start to see him as “challenged” in this area, and treat him with love, and change your thoughts to positive ones, you will see big changes.

  5. Sue Reply

    I have been married for 37 years. I was living a dream until three years ago. I found out my husband was telling lies about me to the women in the offices we worked for. This was for attention. He enjoyed playing the martyr. Because of the treatment I received from the women in the offices I had to stop going. This isn’t just about men it is about women to. What happened to your brain? It is the oldest trick men play. “My wife doesn’t understand me,” or doesn’t appreciate me……. Why would any women feel flattered by a man who is with his wife and is clearly being a party to a hurtful situation they would not want to find themselves in. Women aren’t very nice to women when a husband is acting like a dog. And you men if you know what you are doing is hurting your wife then the pain you cause is intentional. Two yrs of counselling little has changed.

    • Paul Friedman Post authorReply

      Everything you say is true (in most cases), including you wasting money on counseling..2 years?? Get our program, for God’s sake!

  6. Joan Reply

    When hubby is with you, flirt with the bag boy, paper boy, mechanic, repairer, roadside service guy, etc… At the least you find balance; at best he reforms. But do not fight about it. Whoever is most civil wins and if you act upset he will probably become unfair and punitive.

    • Paul Friedman Post authorReply

      No Joan… all you do is start a war. It is better to learn how to be married, and be happy; always!

  7. Mila Reply

    If joan’s husband does not flirt, and she’s the one who flirts with the bag boy in front of the husband, would it start a war? I would have believed you were it not for your reply to joan. Still double standard?

    • Paul Friedman Post authorReply

      Mila.. I don’t get the double standard comment. Every person is going to “pay” when they break the laws of morality, so it should not matter what they do from your ‘how does this affect me’ perspective; other than you, as a spouse, should feel loving compassion for them, knowing they will suffer. You see, marriage is not a competition. If you turn it into one both of you lose. if you stay true to your vows both win.

  8. KC Reply

    All of those replies seem to me like “A man can’t help himself, be this or that way to make yourself feel better about it.” Doesn’t jive with me. How funny that in this world a man can’t put in the effort to be in the emotional equivalent of a woman, as we fight to be the societal equivalent of man. Disrespect and lack of concern for your SO’s emotions are nothing other than that.

    • Paul Friedman Post authorReply

      The problem is not that a man “should” do this or that. The problem is that women do not understand the biological influences on themselves or their men, so they have unrealistic expectations. The reverse is also true, about men. Our efforts are to explain things scientifically without judgment.
      Of course respect is a vital part of a healthy marriage; vital! But where do people learn that? From parents? Movies? TV sitcoms? Or how about politics?
      Our efforts to teach marital happiness will hopefully have a great benefit on those who read our books and take our courses. Its the best we can do.

  9. Abby Reply

    My husband sends texts to other women. I comb through his phone and always find something inappropriate he’s sent. He says he’s not cheating and that he doesn’t know why he sends them…what should I do?

    • Paul Friedman Post authorReply

      Men who are confronted will never fess up; nor will women, for that matter. But, clearly you have problems with your marriage that are underlying his desire to seek “something” elsewhere. I would start by asking what is missing in your marriage.

  10. Wiera ( Vera) Kelly Reply

    Obviously flirting means” still looking!”
    Why does the woman always have to make sure he’s feeling loved?
    If he’s flirting with other women, he’s taking time away from our relationship.
    Maybe if he’d flirt with his wife,”oh sorry all flirted out for the day!” Though you could be my mattress pad for me to work out my desires for others on!
    So “her feelings do not matter?”
    Just as long as his urges are met and you’re loving him at home he has a great life.
    You are alone and will remain alone.
    No, sorry I do not think a man feels anything after immoral behavior except; victory!
    I get everyone is different though the sentiment is the same; if you’re in a committed relationship, then commit. If you want to spread your love juice for the urge of procreation, them hit a sperm bank, not the alter for marriage!

    • Paul Friedman Post authorReply

      Yes, you are correct, pretty much all the way. But the problem is that being angry with your husband, or letting him know he is immoral (he already knows) is a non-starter for healing your marriage.
      You have to begin at a place that is not doing more harm than good. That place is self examination. That does not mean its your fault, but if you think a husband is operating like a saint, you have to get into reality.

      Our efforts are to heal marriages, to take advantage of this wake up call, and get couples into a marriage that is joy filled and well oiled. If all you want to do is bash your husband for doing things poorly you might as well already be in divorce court.

  11. Wiera ( Vera) Kelly Reply

    It’s hard not to put one down. When feelings are already hurt and trust destroyed, it naturally comes out of the one that’s hurt. After all, we are only human. Maybe one wants the other to have a little empathy for their feelings. Then, their refusal to acknowledge their part in hurting the other one, makes one even more angry.
    Insecure? Well what has the other done to make them feel secure. Hitting on anything 98.6° sure would not make the other one feel good, eh?
    I can not fathom anyone wanting to just give up.
    Though I can not fathom it being something that can be fixed.
    Maybe one can not get past all the hurt feelings. Feelings of inadequacies, never being good enough.
    Even after vows were stated in front of God and all. That you were the one for the other and they’ll be faithful and devoted.
    Don’t say it unless you mean it. Some of us take our vows seriously and would not fathom even looking. Lead me not into temptation. They are not black letters on white paper. They are to have meaning and consequences.
    To which, making the abuser feel secure and happy after all is said and done, does not seem appropriate to me. It like rewarding bad behavior. Which we all know is to actually encourage it.
    I actually heard one say to the other well you stayed, so you obviously have accepted it. That’s narcissist. No regard for the other.

    Divorce sounds good compared to never being good enough for the one you devoted your life to.
    It’s degrading to the one that has taken their vows seriously.

    Beside if they’re looking, shouldn’t one just let them go?
    If they truly cared for the one they were with, they would have flirted with them and not the new interest?

    • Paul Friedman Post authorReply

      I discovered that dwelling on all you propose, though quite correct, is like wiggling your body in quicksand. All you do is speed up inevitable death to your marriage, and yourself. Unfortunately this kind of thinking is literally promoted. Why? It does no good. Not for you, or for your marriage!

      My thinking is that if you want to save your marriage, which I have proven is realistic, countless times, you need to have a realistic and practical approach that ultimately produces happiness.
      I suggest you look at the website more, maybe read one of my books, or, if you wish, take the course (which is honestly the best course of action for you). Here is an article which I recently wrote.. https://themarriagefoundation.org/differences-between-the-marriage-foundation-and-fake-marriage-professionals/

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