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How To

How to Shut Down Temptation When You’re in a Relationship

Written by Tifphane Riley

My wife and I have been together for  five years, and recently got married shortly after welcoming our son into the world. One may assume that things in my relationship must be great – obviously – since we were happy enough to get married and have a child together.

Let me be clear, there are many things that make our relationship wonderful but it definitely takes work! We both continue to be works in progress trying to better ourselves individually so that we may be better partners to one another.

When my wife and I first met, we realized the intensity of our attraction, but also realized that we both had some things to work on before beginning to date monogamously. A lot of my work centered around figuring out what my personal and relational boundaries were and putting those boundaries in place around others.

My problem had never been physical cheating. Trust I knew what side my bread was buttered on. My challenge had been emotional cheating, and allowing my kindness and flirtatious smile to send the message to other women that though I was taken I could still play.

Playing came in the form of text messages and Facebook chats  that eventually turned into flirting, failing to shut down advances by women, finding myself “hanging out” (read: on a date) with other women, and a host of other things that only nightclub walls could accurately depict.

Unfortunately, in my naivete, I struggled to accept the fact that being in relationship meant enforcing boundaries in the moment as a way to avoid issues down the road. Oftentimes, people learn from their mistakes before they suffer any major consequences, but wouldn’t it be better to avoid the headache and drama from the beginning?

For me, it took almost losing my girlfriend to wise up and get it together. Once I was faced with the reality of a break up, I knew I had to get my life together.

Part of what helped me to grow more was acknowledging the fact that though I am deeply in love with and committed to my partner, I still found other women attractive and enjoyed being social – and yes sometimes flirting – sometimes.

I also had to own up to the fact that this type of behavior created a toxic cycle for me, one that I always wanted to end but failed to do consistently. Working on creating and maintaining my boundaries while simultaneously being honest with my partner about the reality of attraction to other women, created transparency in our relationship and led to progress for us. We then were able to share in these moments together and discuss more of the things that attracted us to each other. I believe that was the game changer. Now that girlfriend is my wife and mother of my son!

So I totally understand the crazy saga of struggling to find amazing women when they are  single yet,  running into all the queens that slay in every way when they’re in a relationship. If you haven’t experienced this, feel lucky as you’re among the elite whose dating life has been convenient and Lit! Take this moment to “dab on em one time.” Okay now, that we have celebrated, let’s get back to the matter at hand and facts.

The reality is that awesome lesbians were likely around when you were single but, maybe they were in relationships. Now it’s you who is taken. Granted you are off the market, but you will likely be faced with temptation. That temptation may be in the form of amazing smiles, great conversation and those random compliments on your hair, shoes and overall awesome energy.

Here are some tips that helped me shut down temptation and flirtatious advances:

Know it’s not other women’s faults they don’t know you’re taken. The onus is on you to make it crystal clear that they can look but can’t touch. Part of what will help you manage the temptation, is first being honest with yourself that, although your partner at home is wonderful and stole your heart, you’re still human and attraction is inevitable.

It is okay to look. It doesn’t mean you’re unfaithful or bored with your partner. It’s honestly what you do in those moments that you find yourself attracted to other women that matter most. We all know when we leave the house to hang out with friends what our intentions are for the night. If your mind is set on catching up with friends and, dancing to your favorite songs then do just that.

Think about it, when you got dressed, you put on that outfit that made you feel good and reminded you that you’re unapologetically sexy as hell. Come on, we all do it!

Keep in mind that people (single or taken) tend to be a bit more social when they are out with friends, so may be inclined to engage in conversation or give a compliment when the energy is high.

You may actually be more friendly or flirty when socializing with new people; it’s good to be mindful of your own behaviors too and how you could be sending mixed messages.

The women you see out who you think may be flirting, may not be. Her sudden smile at you or, taking note that your fragrance was nice when you walked by doesn’t mean that she is hitting on you or ready to slide in your DM. This could just be her way of being friendly. It is possible for lesbians to be friendly to each other without ulterior motives.

Know the signals. I’m also not going to discredit those moments when she has touched your locs for the second time, or has leaned in extra close (despite the music being low) simply to ask you what kind of drink you’re sipping on. That may really be her way of letting you know she is down for more conversation and getting to know you.

If that’s the case then you officially have a Code Red situation and, need to quickly go to your plan A. Now unless you and your partner have negotiated your relationship and created guidelines so the two of you can have an additional partner, lover or are looking for a bae to join you both, then you need to let this person know you’re flattered, but happily taken.

Congratulations, You’ve Saved Yourself Unecessary Drama

Granted the woman who is flirting with you may be a bit salty and, one of your single friends may side eye you for cutting the conversation short (without introducing her to them first) but, this will limit all possibilities of future drama.

What is future drama you say? Oh that’s when the woman who generally flirts with you openly (because you failed to be real with her and put a boundary in place), decides to suddenly flirt with you when bae/wife is out with you next time. Nobody has time for drama or awkward moments, so do yourself a favor and cut it!

By doing this you actually create a reputation for yourself where other women will not only  appreciate your honesty, but respect your relationship enough to let other women  know that  you are taken.

Now you can go home and tell your partner/wife about your experience (if the two of you have that kind of trust and communication dynamic). Who knows, this could actually create a great moment for role play between the two of you where your partner pretends to be a stranger flirting with you. Talk about having a good night!


Tifphane Riley is a Human Sexuality doctoral candidate, clinical sexologist and therapist, workaholic, new mom, poet, newly married and a preppy boi to her soul. She is working on her dissertation proposal about Gender Roles in The Black Lesbian community.

Featured Model: @JimmyMaack on IG

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Article written by:

Zamara Perri

Zamara Perri is the founder and editor of the Black Lesbian Love Lab blog. She loves black love and loves mangoes, cats, reading, cooking and writing about some of the challenges and joys of black lesbian relationships.

Join the discussion

  1. Inesha

    What do you do when your partner has cheated and lied or just doesnt respect the relationship but wants to keep you close so that you dont cheat. Its hard to love somebody that way when you cant trust them and you have to question there every move wither there with you or not. Or you find your self not wanting to expect certain jobs beacause you fear that their going to cheat its crazy and delusional if you ask me. What do you do when your partner doesnt want to meet any of your family or friends beacuse she feels like you slept with all of them crazy anyways feed back please

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