To flirt: to court triflingly or act amorously without serious intentions. We all do it. Sometimes it’s more fun than finally sealing the deal! Until we're in a relationship. And then we stop. Not just with people outside our relationship, but with our partners, too.

My father’s got to be the biggest flirt I’ve ever known. For as long as I can remember, we’d go out to dinner, and he’d spend at least ten minutes flirting with the ladies at the table next to him. When I was little, my mom would blush and giggle about it. Here was her desirable man, making all the ladies swoon, and then turning to her and showing the room that the rest of the world disappeared when he looked into her eyes.

As I got older, it was obvious Mom no longer thought it was funny. I watched their interactions more closely and noticed my dad didn’t flirt with my mom, anymore. The occasional attempt made on his part was usually met with a sharp look and a stern scowl, so he eventually just gave up. Mom’s never been one for public displays of affection, and even less so as us kids got old enough to notice and understand what was going on.

I always thought she was crazy. And I’m not really sure where she got it. My grandfather was constantly flirting with my grandmother in front of all us kids, from the youngest grandchild to the oldest son. My sister and I thought it was adorable and awesome when Dad flirted with Mom. But Mom, not so much.

Why do so many of us stop flirting when we’re in a relationship? Do we get comfortable? Does it grow stale? Do we forget how much fun it was in the beginning?

They’re divorced, now. And M often says it’s their lack of flirting that killed the relationship. When the flirting stopped, the passion died. When the passion died, they started doing everything separately – including flirting. And then the email came that said they weren’t going to be together anymore. It seems pretty obvious to me that their lack of flirting was at least a mitigating factor.

I love flirting. Days filled with cheesy pick-up lines and “accidental” touches lead to double entendres and teasing kisses . We’re always reaching out a hand to drag across the other’s back, or down their arm. We make silly little comments to each other in Notes on his iPhone when we’re at company functions. Last week, at the Pearl St. Diner, M wrote, “This chick sitting across from me is kinda hot.” I wrote back, “I think she has a crush on you.” We laugh more than any couple we know. The constant chase is half the fun.

But what about flirting with other people? What’s the deal with that, anyway? Isn’t that tantamount to cheating?

Honestly, it’s all in how you look at it. I have friends who think a relationship won’t last if you don’t flirt with other people. I’m not quite that extreme, but I didn’t understand the potential harm in flirting until I saw how much it bothered M. While he’s fine with me flirting with other women, guys are mostly off limits. There are occasional exceptions, but before I met him, I never dreamed flirting could make someone uncomfortable. Most of my male exes were the kind of guys who got off on knowing other guys wanted what they had. The flirting was just part of the deal.

I only get mad when M flirts if I feel like he’s ignoring me. Hell, half the time, I join in. I guess that’s to be expected when the lady in the couple likes girls. It’s fun, and exciting, and both of us are comfortable with it. So what’s the harm?

To flirt, or not to flirt. That is the question. What’s your answer?