Do you find yourself ruining friendships because suddenly the other person wants to be more than friends?
Do you often get told you "lead people on"?
Do you sometimes make others uncomfortable through your interactions?
Have you ever had someone tell you you're "too flirty"?
Flirting can be great fun. Whether it's playful banter or physical affection, flirting can be great for building rapport with others. But when someone misinterprets intentions, flirting can lead to confusion or discomfort.
Learning how to take yourself out of the flirt zone and back in the friend zone is an important skill.
Related: How to turn down flirting politely
Find Out Why Your Friend is Flirting With You
Before changing a behavior, you need to establish why you want to. Having a clear idea of your intentions helps you focus on your goal. Are you causing problems in your friend's relationship with their romantic partner? Often, flirty friendships can cause jealousy and distrust in a relationship. This could lead to a friend cutting off contact with you for the sake of their partner.
Maybe you've had friends profess their feelings for you, only to be hurt and confused when you let them down. If they interpret your flirting as wanting more, the friendship can become sour.
Or are you the one who wants to be more than friends? Does continued flirting hurt you by constantly putting yourself out there without results? You might want to stop flirting with a friend so that you can move on to someone who is interested in you.
Perhaps you have different reasons for wanting to learn how to stop flirting with a friend. Whatever they are, make them clear to yourself.
Related: Flirting cringe
Gauge the Situation
The most effective way to stop flirting with a friend is to avoid situations where flirtation comes naturally. This usually means limiting one-on-one contact. Try hanging out in groups where you can spread your attention out over more people. If you often call or text your friend, limit it to certain times of the day.
Avoid reaching out to your friend during your most vulnerable times. If you're feeling lonely, find a distraction or speak with someone else.
Don't text late at night or first thing in the morning. Late-night texts are notorious for getting flirty. And first thing in the morning isn't healthy if you're trying to stop having them on your mind. If they're more interested in you, texting them first thing in the morning could give them the wrong idea.
Keep to Yourself!
Sure, flirting consists of pick-up lines and banter, but there are other ways to get a person's attention. A common way to flirt is through physical touch. A light brush of the arm, playing with their hair, a lengthy hug, or a "platonic" cuddle. For some people, physical touch is a part of close friendship. But others reserve touch for intimate relationships and view it as a sign that you're interested.
If you're trying to stop flirting with a friend, keep your hands to yourself. There aren't many reasons why you'd need to touch someone in your day-to-day life, so this shouldn't be very difficult.
Related: Flirting Makes Me Uncomfortable
If your friend is overly touchy with you, find ways to sever or avoid that touch. Politely, of course. Sit next to someone else, move your arm away if they "bump" it, or be more direct and ask them not to touch you.
Another way to keep to yourself is through what you share with your friend. Like touch, emotional intimacy can be seen as a form of flirting. Some people see sharing your struggles and emotions as a part of friendship, but it can also be a form of deep, intimate trust. And some friends may assume you want something more.
If you sense that someone is getting the wrong idea from you sharing your innermost thoughts, or if you use sharing your emotions as a way of flirting and are trying to cut back, find a platonic friend to share these things with instead.
If you're struggling to stop flirting with a friend, try putting the attention on someone else. Ask your friend who they are interested in. Share the people you are attracted to, and ask them their opinion. This allows both of you to consider other people, as well as hinting that you're not interested in them.
Flirting is subjective. What one person might see as flirting, another might see as just being friendly. Flirting is usually a fun and harmless part of interacting with other people, but sometimes it gets out of hand. Changing the way you interact with someone can be difficult.
When you stop flirting with a friend, it might change the friendship. But sometimes it's necessary to avoid confusion and hurt feelings. Drawing a line between flirting and friendship can open up opportunities for deeper and more authentic relationships.
Related: How To Flirt With a Guy