Flirting outside of a relationship can be incredibly hurtful to a partner.
Does that hurt give a person carte blanche to passive-aggressively bring up the flirting for the rest of the relationship?
What if there was no flirting intended? Does one partner’s insecurities dictate how the other is allowed to act?
Reddit user “throwawaymyflute” found himself stuck trying to figure out whether he or his wife is the a**hole at the root of their ongoing tension.
What better place than the “Am I The A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit to find out?
“AITA for telling our server she had a beautiful scalp at my wife’s birthday dinner?”
Of course there’s much more to the story, but before we get into it we should talk about how the AITA subReddit works.
First, the original poster (often referred to in the comments as “OP”) tells their story as a post. Other users vote in the comments, usually sharing their thoughts along with their vote.
Voting options are simple:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- NAH – No A**holes Here
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
Now let’s get back to the husband’s birthday dinner blunder.
“This happened before the pandemic was a thing in case you’re wondering. Obviously right now we’re staying in as much as possible and supporting local business through take out and delivery.”
“So this was over a year ago and my wife won’t let it go. I’m looking for some external input.”
“I took my wife to our favorite local spot for her birthday. Everything was good as usual, but we had a server neither of us had seen before with a somewhat striking appearance: she was completely bald.”
“Normally I wouldn’t say anything about something like that because I’m afraid of being rude, but toward the end of the dinner the server made a joke about she and I having the same haircut (I’m bald).”
“I said something along the lines of, ‘I don’t mean to be rude, but I’m curious. Are you bald by choice?’ It turns out she was, which was a great relief to me since I didn’t want to pry into it if she was sick or involuntary bald for some reason.”
“I did not bring this up out of nowhere; the topic came up when the server pointed out (in a jovial fashion) that she and I had the same haircut.”
“She was more than happy to talk about it and told me all about how she’d always loved bald heads and wanted to try it. She said she got positive feedback and just kept her head shaved.”
“I told her I loved that and I thought women could look very beautiful bald even though it’s not something you see often. I told her she had a great head shape for it and joked about offering razor recommendations.”
“It was light conversation and that was the end of it. It was a brief conversation with zero negative or uncomfortable vibes.”
“For the rest of the meal my wife was silent. I could tell something was wrong.”
“When we left I said bye to the server and she pointed at her head and gave me a little thumbs up. I get the feeling we would’ve got along well as friends.”
“When we got to the car, there was a moment of pause between us and I asked if something was wrong. She replied, ‘Are we going to stop at Walgreens and pick up some clippers?’ “
“I asked her what she meant and she said obviously since I was enthralled with our server’s shaved head she had to do something to win her husband’s attention back. I was ‘blatantly’ flirting with our server, apparently.”
“It spiraled into a huge fight with my wife accusing me of wanting to experiment with an exotic-looking woman because I was tired of my boring old wife.”
“I can’t deny that in the moment, I probably looked like I was flirting with our server. It was not intentional, but I guess I realize how it could’ve seemed inappropriate at my wife’s birthday dinner.”
“I did find her attractive, but my wife will always come first. I’m attracted to her and I love her. That’s why I married her.”
“Even now she makes little references like ‘I guess I’m not as interesting as a bald goddess’ or ‘Does this look good on me or do I need to show some scalp?’ ”
“So am I the a**hole for this? I just want things to be okay. I’ve tried apologizing but nothing will stop it.”
The subReddit is designed to pass judgment, but people struggled a bit at first.
“I’d be inclined to say ESH because he didn’t say he ever apologized for how it looked and talked to her to make her feel better about the situation, remind her how much he loves her etc.”
“While he meant nothing by his actions (to take him at his word, ’cause that’s all we’ve got), he could have tried to make his wife feel better. Instead he argued with her about it.”
“But equally there’s no need to be bringing this up a year later on her part unless it’s specifically relevant – my other half brings up things I’ve done that were stupid, but as a joke when they’re relevant not just ‘do you like this top, or (stupid thing I’ve done)’.”
“Sounds like she wants another argument about it, or at best is insecure about something but won’t tell him what it is.”
“Whatever the judgment, they clearly need to talk about what each of them thinks is acceptable behavior with people outside their relationship, and why this event has upset her so much as it clearly has.”
“There’s something more going on here than just ‘you were flirting’ or they’d have a blazing row every time they went out if him being friendly (which is what he says this was) is interpreted as flirting.” – NYX_T_RYX
“Soft YTA, while the conversation sounded harmless and friendly, it was your wife’s birthday and the focus shouldn’t have been complimenting and chatting with another woman” – JBradley99
Things absolutely changed tone after he posted the following in the comments, giving users a bit more insight into his personality.
“If my wife fails to see a reason to avoid holding grudges for the rest of our lives I’m afraid she doesn’t need to be rewarded with my love and care and financial support.”
“I’ve been quite upset with the huge fuss made over this one dinner so long ago.”
“I am a young man with many options and part of my reason for asking this question was to judge how much of a transgression this is on my wife’s part compared to mine.”
“By the way, we are 24 and 25.”
Reddit was not a fan.
“Yeah the issue here isn’t him commenting on the server’s baldness.”
“The title should have been ‘AITA for excessively complimenting another woman’s appearance and having a spirited conversation with her about it while my wife played third wheel at her birthday dinner?'”
“The answer is yes. YTA.” – ThievingRock
“‘She accused me of flirting’.”
“‘I admit it definitely SEEMED like flirting’.”
“‘I was attracted to this random woman and showed that blatantly AT MY WIFE’S BIRTHDAY DINNER’.”
“Did you see his reply where he said he is young and could have whatever he wants so his wife should be grateful that he chooses to give her his financial security and affection?”
“He knows exactly what he’s doing. YTA. For many reasons that plenty of people already pointed out.” – TheArchivist22
“YTA – you really cemented it by fighting with her on the way home. I mean, just apologize and let it go.”
“Fighting with her made it cement further that he just didn’t give a crud about her feelings. Now she’s bitter about it months later.”
“Had he just apologized my money is on she would have been hurt; but she would have had an easier time getting over it.” – rosepetalmemories
“YTA and this attitude is why his wife has still got the sh*ts about it.”
“He knows damn well he was flirting with the server but he’s chosen to pretend he wasn’t, so that makes it hard to move past because wife has never got a sincere admission and apology.” – icebergmama
“YTA – it was probably harmless, and light hearted, but it was your wife’s birthday dinner, and you made a bit of a fuss over another woman…..right in front of your wife.”
“You complimented her; you were more engaging with her than you would have otherwise been with other servers (or at least that’s the vibe I get).”
“Basically it sounds like this particular bald lady made you react differently than you normally would. This would be the same if you never hit it off with any of the normal servers, but a particularly busty girl is serving you and you’re way more friendly than usual.”
“Or the first and only blonde server is there and you make very specific comments, or you are way more chatty with the only server in a mini skirt vs all the other girls in long trousers…”
“In other words you made a fuss over another woman on your wife’s birthday, right in front of her.” – TheWizardColin
“I guarantee if the server had been unattractive OP would not have cared at all to fawn over her baldness. He admits to being attracted to her as well.”
“Then compounds it with the fact that he believes they would make good friends. He clearly had chemistry with the server and his wife saw that.”
“Now he’s acting like it’s nothing. YTA” – rawsugar87
“YTA. You were flirting with your server in front of your wife.”
“Imagine if you had a male server with long hair and your wife told him ‘I love that’ and said she thought men ‘look very beautiful with long hair even though it’s not something you see often’ and that he had a ‘great head shape for it’.”
“Flirting.” – WebbieVanderquack
“YTA for two reasons.”
“One: YTA for asking if she was bald by choice. What would you do if she said no?”
“Two: Did you tell your wife that she looked beautiful when you went out on her birthday? Or is the server the only one who you complimented?”
“Because the way you treated her makes her feel as if she is ‘a boring old wife.’ and you did blatantly flirt with someone else right in front of her. On her birthday.”
“If the exchange still hurts a year later, there are much deeper issues.”
“Your behavior didn’t ‘seem’ inappropriate. It was. You insulted and upset your wife on her birthday, and that is 100% inappropriate.”
“Your actions and words need to match up with ‘My wife will always come first. I’m attracted to her and I love her’.”
“Clearly you are not letting her know, because she thinks that you prefer someone who looks nothing like her. She is still asking for validation that you find her attractive, by literally asking you if she looks good.”
“Your apology won’t mean anything to her until you prove it.”– ISeeMusicInColor
“Yes, YTA. Especially after that little update.”
“He ABSOLUTELY was flirting with her and I bet he made a bigger deal out of this woman, and paid more special attention to her, than his wife. And his wife was dead on since he admits he was attracted.” – Creative-Training175
We don’t know if OP will provide any more updates after the first one turned Reddit against him so quickly, but that may not actually matter. What matters is that OP and his partner work things out for everyone’s best interests.