__B.P. (before the proposal): __You'd meet your girlfriends at a bar, turn a couple heads, and part of the fun was playfully attracting men. You'd chat. You'd laugh. But if anybody asked for your number, you'd play the "Sorry, I have a boyfriend" card and return to your girls. Ego boosted: no harm, no foul.
__A.P. (after the proposal): __It's a whole new game. Flirting and being flirted with as an engaged woman still gives you that same shot in the arm, but now it comes with generous helping of guilt. Or your engagement ring acts as an invisibility shield; guys don't give you a second look. That doesn't feel good, either. Then there are those jerks who are like bees to honey when they see your ring; they like the challenge. Flirting has become complicated.
As it should be. If you're not feeling some inner conflict about flirting with other men, or it makes you angry that you feel like you can't, that may be a sign you're not ready for marriage or the fit with your fiancé isn't right. Feeling guilty about flirting with a hot stranger is not all bad. It's evidence that your identity is undergoing a transformation from single woman to married woman, and that your commitment to your fiancé and your marriage is deepening and strengthening.
But you don't want to get thee to a nunnery or only meet your girlfriends for high tea just because you're engaged. You can still turn heads — just keep it playful, limited, and light.
Allison Moir-Smith, MA, is the author of Emotionally Engaged: A Bride's Guide to Surviving the '"Happiest" Time of Her Life and has been helping brides feel happier, calmer and better prepared for marriage since 2002. She is a bridal counselor, an expert in engagement anxiety and cold feet, and the founder of Emotionally Engaged Counseling for Brides.