Is It Okay To Text-Flirt With A Married Woman?

Advice on a flirtatious friendship, fondling bosses, your niece's vocal fry, and how to feel about Ray Rice.

A photograph of the writer.

SCAACHI KOUL was born and raised in Calgary, Alberta. Her writing has appeared in The New Yorker, BuzzFeed NewsThe HairpinThe Globe and Mail and J...

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It is interesting that the NFL needed the footage before it indefinitely suspended Ray Rice.

I say “interesting,” of course, because there are not any words that currently exist in the English language to define the utter cowardice of the NFL throughout this case. On top of the cowardice of hitting your fiancé so hard in the face that you knock her out in an elevator, then half-heartedly dragging her lifeless body into the door of that elevator like a gym bag you don’t feel like carrying, that is.

But the cowardice of the NFL for not suspending or banning or sending Ray Rice to live on the top of a snowy mountain with only an old bat to keep him company (I do not understand football) in February when he actually committed this abuse, is somehow, in some ways, even more tremendous. He initially got a two-game suspension. That is how concerned the NFL is with domestic violence. That Ray Rice is an abuser is not new information. The only new thing we learned this week that we didn’t know for certain last week is that there is video of Janay Rice crumbling in that elevator. Merely hearing about it wasn’t enough: it sounds like all those football execs in those terrible boxy tan suits couldn’t adequately imagine how horrific domestic abuse is. (They weren’t too worried about finding out either—they didn’t even ask the casino for the footage.) What they needed was the entire world to see it and then turn to the NFL to ask, “What the shit is this?” for them to finally say something like, “Oh! Oh, oh my god, we totally forgot about this, so embarrassing, okay, just one second, we’ll clean this up right quick.”

And yet, even on top of all that, is the cowardice of people blaming Janay for her own abuse—for staying, for marrying Rice, for defending her husband with his giant meat-paws for hands. All that, instead of going after the guy who cold-cocked her in an elevator. (You can add to that layer of yet another for the Ravens, in commemoration of this tweet stating that Janay “regrets” her part of the incident, I guess, like the part where her face got in the way of Ray Rice’s fist.)

So, yes. “interesting” is the word. “Interesting” is the only word left.

Is football the least female-friendly major sport currently operating? It sure does feel lately like the most rapey, the most murdery, the most prone to treating players’ wives and loved ones, employees, and fans like that dried booger that forms around that weird cut you get inside your nostril (something to pick at, something to flick away), doesn’t it?

But football is about the fans! So let’s make this about you: what do you do when a player you loved has absolutely, without a shred of a doubt, abused a woman? And then what do you do when the team you’re so dedicated to mangles the aftermath so poorly that it makes you wonder how many more Ray Rices or Ray McDonalds or Greg Hardys or Rod Smiths there are lurking in professional sports with abused and muzzled wives? Is there a way to discuss the player’s legacy without getting mired in his personal life? Can you respect his game without considering that he is a monster who feeds on human suffering? Is it important that this is going to affect your fantasy football league?

Neeeeeope. There is a reason society generally remembers the last horrible thing you did instead of the first good thing: the last thing is usually a good indicator of what kind of a person you are. Sure, Hitler painted some beautiful pieces of art and he was sweet on his dogs, but he had such a temper.

There is a reason society generally remembers the last horrible thing you did instead of the first good thing: the last thing is usually a good indicator of what kind of a person you are.Ray Rice is a bad person. He is bad at being a human being. This is the beginning of what is sure to be an era of hanging his head real low whenever he’s in public, and at no point should you defend him. If you’re a football fan, you should lose your goddamn head if there’s any whisper that he may be coming back. If your fantasy league friends are still defending him, get a new fantasy league, get new friends, and maybe watch a sport that is perhaps less tolerant of domestic violence, murder, rape, and all that math.

And finally, don’t do anything that MTV’s Resident Cheekbones is doing either. There is no way to press your hand to your chest in a photo where you are not singing the national anthem without coming off as the well-coiffed butt of an Internet joke.

Boy, I feel winded. Let’s see what’s bothering you this week.

My niece is 10. She is thoughtful and intelligent and beautiful and I love her very much. She has also developed vocal fry. I hate this so much: I think it makes her sound stupid and flippant and it’s not a habit I want her to develop and take into adulthood. She’s also doing that thing some girls do when they finish their sentences with an upward inflection. I hate it! But, I’m not her mom and I also don’t want to shame her over something like her manner of speaking. How can I get her to stop talking like a dumb girl?

— Talk More Smarter

There’s a key moment in every woman’s life when she realizes that she is becoming her mother. For some, it’s looking into the mirror and seeing your mother’s eyes and hairline. For others, it’s becoming a mother yourself and feeling all the fear she did when she first had you. But, for me, it was when I saw a gaggle of 13-year-old girls in the mall wearing crop tops and jean shorts and far, far too much makeup and I thought, Who let them leave the house looking like that????

This is your moment.

Vocal fry often signifies a common yet frustrating time in most girls’ lives. It comes from an insecurity deep within, that maybe what you’re saying is bullshit and you’re not confident enough in it to betray any confidence when you say it? It’s not a girl-specific issue, but rather, a teen-specific issue. My 12-year-old nephew is wading deeply in the Swamp Of Vocal Fry, something I hate because he grew up such a bossy, assertive, interesting boy.

But it comes with the territory. No one is a particularly good person as a pre-teen. It doesn’t get better, either: no teenager is anything less than a very tiny Satan with skin problems. It’s likely she’s talking like this because all the other girls in her class are talking like this, and standing out when you’re hitting puberty can be akin to setting yourself on fire and saying, “No no, don’t bring me any water, I am ready to burn.”

Give your niece a break. It’s not your job to lecture her about this—not yet, at least. If she’s still talking like this when she’s 17 or 18, then you’ll have a case to make. For now, her biggest hurdle is knowing what to do when she gets her period in the middle of a public swimming pool and a neighbourhood dog follows her home, sniffing at her underthings the whole way.

That never happened to me. Leave me alone.


I've recently been having great text chats with a married woman. I don't think there's anything sexual about it, but I will admit that she can get flirtatious with me. We're friends IRL, and nothing would ever happen between us (though she's admitted that she thinks I'm attractive, but I'm not into her THAT way. Plus I would never mess around with a married woman). Is this wrong? Are we crossing a boundary? She's just really funny over text. Is it ethically okay to continue?

— There Is No Emoji For This

Let’s play a game.

Pretend you are married to a human woman. And let’s say this human woman is friends with a heterosexual human man. And let’s say the two of them talk all the time via text message, along with some face-to-face interaction. And let’s say Human Man feels that this relationship is toeing an unspoken line because Human Woman has expressed interest in him on a sexual level.

Would you think it is “ethically okay” for her to continue?

I assume you are a man because only men can say the words “married woman” and make them feel filthy.

Assuming the answer is no, then yes, little boy (I assume you are a man because only men can say the words “married woman” and make them feel filthy), you are crossing a boundary. You are crossing it because you are noticing that there was, at some point, a line, and now you can’t see where it is anymore. You are crossing a boundary because you wrote this question. You feel guilt. Whether you should or shouldn’t, I can’t exactly say, because I haven’t seen any of the texts in question, but the point is: you feel it. It is likely she does as well.

The thing about people who say “nothing would ever happen between us” is you always end up feeling like an idiot when something does, inevitably, happen between you. Who knows what’s going on with this lady: maybe it’s harmless flirting, maybe she is bored and you are a new plaything for her to bat at, or maybe she wants to do groin-area things to you in the dark. (I have never had sex; is that how you do it?)

You don’t have to stop doing this if you really have no intentions of developing this relationship beyond the virtual. But do you know what her intentions are? Can you be sure? Do you think this will end in hurt feelings? And do you feel ethical about it? There are levels of cheating, depending on who you ask, from emotional to physical. I don’t know what your limits are. I don’t know hers, either. But I do know you’re clearly feeling funny about it, and that says more than I really could.

If you want to shut it down, be mindful about how you talk to her over the next little while. If you are also coupled, suggest a double date. (Ordinarily I would shudder at this phrasing but look at this mess you have made.) Meet the husband, make nice, bring your dumb girlfriend or wife or sex slave or what have you. Don’t play footsie under the table.

In changing the way you interact with this person, you’re going to learn a lot about what you were getting out of it in the first place, and whether or not she’s really your friend. Maybe you enjoyed the attention more than you realized. Maybe she’s not really your friend, and vice versa—just a fun plaything that distracts you. Maybe that is okay. Maybe you don’t want to change any of this at all, and the dynamic is what it is: a half-friend who sometimes does nice things for you and touches your muscles and makes you feel warm inside, but absolutely nothing more.

But don’t pretend that you are helpless and that you can’t break this habit. Get a new hobby. Do you know how to knit? Learn how to knit. Make a little cozy for your dick and then keep your dick inside of it. Little dick-cozy.


OK, so, I started a new job a few weeks ago. Things seem to be going well. I’m learning the ropes, I’m not doing a terrible job, people like me, etc.

My problem is this: the two supervisors will just not stop flirting and touching each other. I mean, they are flirting like preteens—there is hair pulling and tickling and squealing and grabbing each other and hiding in the back and doing who knows what. They (one dude, one girl) are adults, who are in their late-20s, and they both have significant others. Frankly, I don’t care what they do with each other when they’re not at work, but once it starts to impede everyone’s jobs, I think it’s an issue.

I’m still new here, so I don’t want to cause any trouble, but I would like this to stop. It’s uncomfortable to witness, it’s inappropriate for clients to witness, and it’s annoying to try to interrupt them to get our work done. It’s not only that it is extremely inappropriate, but also it’s affecting how they do their jobs. Should I call them out on it? Should I ignore it and hope it goes away? Should I approach senior management? Is this what my boyfriend is doing when he’s at work???

— No Touching

Is your job real or are you working in a scene from Lifetime’s Saved by the Bell docu-drama? Because none of this makes any sense.

Maybe this is a small office and you do not actually have an HR department, and I am going to operate under that assumption because if you do have an HR department, then go to the HR department, because that is what an HR department is for.

Is your job real or are you working in a scene from Lifetime’s Saved by the Bell docu-drama? Because none of this makes any sense.

You have two superiors, both of whom are seeing other people, who are also grabbing and pinching at each other like horny youths, and are making it painfully difficult to actually do any work. It’s surprising that senior management isn’t already aware of the situation: have your clients not complained about the fact that these two are giving each other dry handjobs under the table while they’re trying to sign contracts?

It sounds like you’re not exactly in the position to tell these two to get a room, literally, somewhere not in the office, so you’re left with little recourse. If you’re still feeling like fresh meat and you’re not comfortable with complaining, keep your head down and do your work as best as you can. This is one of those scenarios where the only way to keep yourself sane is to just stop caring about the overall company. Worry about yourself. Do your job. Maybe casually look for a different one. Those two dodos are going to get in plenty of their own trouble in due time.

But if you think it’s worth it, and this is your career and not just your job, then you should talk to senior management. I am sure they’d like to know that two of their employees are cavorting on company time, alienating clients, and creating a lawsuit hotbed for when this weird relationship goes sour.

Complaints like this all depend on how you define the conflict. Don’t go to management and whine about how this makes you uncomfortable and how gross it is that they’re doing this, EVEN IF IT’S TRUE. Instead, frame the issue as one that affects the clients: your supervisors are disappearing and you don’t know why, and it’s making it tough to do your job.

Or, I don’t know, maybe just join in on the pinching and hugging and fondling and maybe they’ll be so wigged out by someone breaking up the fun, they’ll stop humping in the mailroom.

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A photograph of the writer.

SCAACHI KOUL was born and raised in Calgary, Alberta. Her writing has appeared in The New Yorker, BuzzFeed NewsThe HairpinThe Globe and Mail and Jezebel. She is the author of One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter.