The "How" and "Why" of Flirtatious Communication Between Marital Partners

Brandi N. Frisby, Melanie Booth-Butterfield

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Flirtatious communication between spouses is an understudied, yet important, phenomenon which may differentiate which marriages will persevere. Flirting with a spouse potentially derives positive benefits for each partner and for the relationship. The researchers in this study examined marital partners' flirtatious behaviors, flirtatious motivations, relational maintenance, commitment, and satisfaction. Married participants (N = 164), whose mean age was 36.29, reported that flirting was motivated by a desire for sexual activity and the desire to create a private world with the spouse. Women engaged in maintenance behaviors and attentive flirting more than men. Assurances were a positive predictor of both satisfaction and commitment. Conflict management was a negative predictor of commitment, and esteem motivations were a negative predictor of satisfaction. Overall, flirting appeared to operate similarly to maintenance communication in marital couples.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)465-480
Number of pages16
JournalCommunication Quarterly
Issue number4
StatePublished - Sep 2012


  • Flirting
  • Maintenance
  • Marriage

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication


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