Q: I am a 57-year-old married male who works with a woman who is several years younger than me. I get mixed messages from her and was just wondering what makes her do the things that she does. She is married with two teenage daughters. She is very friendly to me including hugging a lot. Sometimes she moves in very close and may even touch some. She will also say things that have a sexual content to them once in awhile. On the other hand, she says that she finds cheating a bad thing, and she talks about the actions of others who would cheat or have any kind of a relationship with someone outside the marriage. What is confusing about all this is she flirts and acts like she would like to but never seems to go that far. Nothing with me anyway. What is she doing and why? -- Larry, 57
Dr. Susan: Ah, the courting dance that never ends. Some women like to exercise their flirting abilities even when they have no intention of following through. Since you're both married, my suggestion would be to try to enjoy the little bit of erotic charge but not to even think about having a fling with this woman. Think of her actions this way: she's keeping in practice, and she enjoys feeling that tiny bit of power over a male who is actually pretty safe. Your reaction (as she imagines it) reassures her that she's still desirable. She probably has no idea how uneasy her moves make you. She likes you and she's playing with you, but she doesn't want to go further. Maybe, next time she says something about cheating being bad, join in and say that you think that cheating is just about anything you couldn't tell your mate about, like flirting with a co-worker.
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.