Flirting or foreplay?

My young, sexy, single sister-in-law flirts with me at our monthly family get-togethers. She “accidentally” rubs her breasts against my arm when I’m cooking, nuzzles my neck with her lips and thrusts her hips into me when we hug hello or drops sexual innuendos while we’re talking. I have to admit that I’m flattered by my sister-in-law’s attention because my wife has not been very affectionate since she started working full-time. I love my wife, but she is nothing like her sister. I worry that if I tell my wife, she either won’t believe me or she will think something has already happened between us and never trust me again. I also worry that I’ll drive a wedge between them. Your thoughts?

Get a clue about the difference between flirting and foreplay. Your sister-in-law is not engaging in superficially amorous behavior, which is the definition of flirting. She is putting a lot of effort into stimulating you sexually. Since you’re her brother-in-law, that’s a problem. Depending on how young she is, you may have more trouble than you want to handle.

Compassion, not flattery, should be your response to her advances. After all, she is risking possible estrangement from her sister to play “hottie” with you. Only she knows why, but you can be assured that her behavior has more to do with family dynamics (such as sibling competition) than any true interest in you.

I suggest that you ‘fess up to the part of you that is so hungry for attention that you would accept these crumbs as affection instead of talking to your wife and creating a new recipe for real intimacy with her.

Then tell your wife what you’ve noticed about her sister. You might be surprised. It is possible that the lapse in marital affection dates back to when she noticed your sexualized behavior with her sister, not to when she logged on to a 9 to 5 job. Either way, reach an agreement with your wife on how the two of you should handle this situation and then follow through, together.

I’m in no danger of being fired, but my work environment is difficult because of an intimidating co-worker. We’ve talked about the tension. She says that I’m the problem because when we are both present and a customer asks a question, I answer even when the question is directed at her. She says that my advice is unsolicited and unwanted. I feel my responsibility is to our customers and since I usually know the answer, I give it. Help!

There’s nothing you can do about her insecurity, so face your own. Most people are socialized to be afraid of appearing simple, slow and stupid, so they trample others in an effort to be recognized as bright and quick. Yet the result of most religious disciplines, like meditation, is an internal calm that may appear externally as simple, slow and stupid. If you think you really are a know-it-all, perhaps you are being called by the Divine to slow down and share the limelight. Learn to take a breath or two after a question is asked. Otherwise, you may offer a rote response, but miss other creative opportunities just beneath the surface. If someone else responds while you’re quiet, fine. Add what you like or just notice how you feel about not being seen and heard. Respond only to questions directed at you or ask if you can offer your thoughts. Pray for an open heart so that the intimidation turns into intimacy.

Meditation of the Week

“The ways we tell one another about God are conveyed not in words, but with our lives,” wrote Martin Buber, the Jewish theologian and philosopher. Do you invest more energy in proselytizing or in living a holy life? <p></p>