Flirting Au Pair Makes Life Awkward: Did we handle this well?

by cv harquail on August 25, 2014

Long-time AuPairMom readers know that we rarely discuss bad behavior between au pairs and male host parents, for two reasons:

antiflirt club

  1.  There actually isn’t that much (especially compared to other kinds of problems), and
  2. Posts with certain words draw really creepy spammers that I hate to have to deal with.

That said, there might be situations where there’s no foul play, but just lots of awkward behavior by the au pair.

What’s an effective way to respond when an au pair’s behavior is simply too flirtatious? 

Here’s the story: 

Has anybody dealt with au pairs being wildly flirty?

We recently went into rematch with our third au pair.

Soon after arriving from Europe, this au pair began pawing at my husband, cat calling out the window to him and sending him cutesy private texts.  She also seemed rather competitive with me (not ever paying compliments, never laughing at my jokes, etc.), and I couldn’t figure out if this flirtatious behavior was part of a competitive thing with the other grown female in the house (me), or if she was truly trying to land my man.

Wee sat her down and asked her to please stop this behavior. She became very upset and said she had no idea what we were taking about, then she left the room crying.

Needless to say, this was weird for all of us, but she was extremely good with the kids, so we wanted things to work out.

Time went by and I thought we all had recovered fairly well from the awkwardness. She began honoring boundaries with my husband, etc.

But then she started acting entitled and additude-y, and as if caring for our children was simply an affront to her social schedule. In tears after a tough day with the kids (they’re 5 and 10), she told us she would now need weekends off. We told her no. She asked for a rematch.

Has anybody been through anything like this? Frankly, it has our heads spinning. 

 ~ Anti-Flirt Host Mom

A-F HM followed up later with this addition:

Reflecting back and looking for warning signs, t here was NOTHING about this au pair that seemed flirty or inappropriate when we were interviewing her. Nothing. That’s what’s scary.
One thing I’ve learned in all this is: I will be specific with future au pairs on messaging. I’ll let them know that all messaging should happen either between me and the au pair, or me, the au pair and my husband. Never just: au pair and husband.
I’ll probably explain this as: “Oh, HostDad is so busy and distracted at work, it makes no sense to only message him. Always keep me in the loop, otherwise things will fall through the cracks because he’ll forget to pass them on.”
 ~ Anti-Flirt Host Mom


~~~~~~~~~ Check out the caption on this image of the Anti-Flirt Club member, by Tom Wigley from Flickr

February 27, 1923. “Miss Alice Reighly, 1409 Harvard Street, president of Anti-Flirt Club, which has just been organized in Washington, D.C., and will launch an ‘Anti-Flirt Week’ beginning March 4. The club is composed of young women and girls who have been embarrassed by men in automobiles and on street corners.”   National Photo Company Collection glass negative.



WarmStateMomma August 25, 2014 at 8:54 am

We are hosting AP#2 (admittedly a small sample size) and never had anything like this happen. I took the baby to visit my parents for a weekend when AP#1 had been with us for 5 months. AP#1 got so freaked out that HD found her crying alone on a park bench. HD won’t let me leave him and an AP overnight ever again.

German Au-Pair August 25, 2014 at 9:57 am

That’s not normal though..there are single dads and they still find APs, there are families with HM working away from home and sometimes it’s just necessary for the HM to be away. It is weird that an AP would feel that bad about being alone with HD after having been with your family for 5 months. Worry about awkwardness yes, but crying alone on a park bench is SO weird.

WarmStateMomma August 25, 2014 at 10:22 am

It surprised us both, but she was also really immature. My husband doesn’t discuss anything personal or sensitive with the APs and doesn’t hug them or anything. His conversations are basically about how their day went, joking about his cooking skills, etc. He’s basically the HD I’d want if my own daughter were an AP.

TexasHM August 25, 2014 at 2:24 pm

My DH is the same way and my APs crack up because when I have to be away overnight for work (about 4 nights in Jan and then maybe 3-4 single nights rest of the year) my DH hardly says a word to them. They think it’s funny/cute and I didn’t ask him to do that, he just says he would prefer there never be any reason for them to misunderstand something or get the wrong idea – stay above reproach so when I’m gone, he gets kids, is polite but not chatty and then hides on our room when they are asleep. We are getting AP4 in November and have housed 2 transition APs plus AP friends sleeping over regularly the last few years and none of them have ever done any of the things mentioned here!
I almost wonder if this AP was extremely insecure or had some kind of psychological issue. Even if AP is a flirt by nature it’s taking it to another level to be competitive and send flirty texts (easily documented). Plus the crying outburst and mood swings (flirty, then entitled) makes me wonder but I’m no shrink!

skny August 27, 2014 at 11:17 pm

When I came as au pair I was actually surprised and taken aback that my host dad barelly shook hands with me. HE was the one who recruited me, chatted with me on skype multiple times a week, and we did jokes etc on line. I spoke to HM once during interview.
I was first au pair and LCC told him to beware and separate, so he said hello, shook hands and left. Was awkward.

old au pair mom August 25, 2014 at 9:53 am

our very first au pair flirted with every gardener on our street. It was bizarre, while driving with her to see if she was a good driver she honked the horn, rolled down the to window wave, and worse. It was if she was a construction worker catcalling women on the street. Our gardener (he had been with us for 6 years at the time and stayed for 14 more) told her where the nearest church was. After she told my DH that she did not come here to be a nun, she tried to win a radio program’s night at a disco. We went into rematch the next day. She was so difficult we asked the LCC to house her until she rematched. None of the following 18 plus au pairs ever acted this way. We are happy when our APs have active social lives. This woman’s behavior was beyond awkward, it was harassing.

Taking a Computer Lunch August 25, 2014 at 1:19 pm

We’re on AP #10 and this has never happened to us. Ever. I have a feeling that the AP’s tend to text and call me more than DH, because I’m the calendar authority and tend to be in charge of the house. But even though DH takes a more active role in caring for The Camel than I, APs tend to ask me more questions.

When an AP crosses the line and forces a family meeting – whether she initiates a flirty encounter, has a car accident, makes a big mistake in providing childcare, etc., I recommend that you always follow up a conversation with an email spelling out your concerns and copy the LCC. Why? You want to leave a written record. That way, when the AP goes into rematch, the LCC is able to speak openly about issues or make recommendations about the next match.

As hard as it is to recover once you’ve been burned by an AP, try your best not to prevent the next AP from having any interaction with your husband. You might want to say, “If you have a question that can’t wait for an answer, then try me first and then DH,” but if you’re not available and you prevent interaction, then you’ve left her high and dry.

HRHM August 25, 2014 at 1:20 pm

Of my 7 APs, all but one have spent time alone with DH. Some for a week or two (work conferences) one for 3 months, one for 6 months (deployments). I’ve never had a problem or complaint in either direction. Most have been EXTREMELY attractive (think Bottles and Models, hot) and DH is actually quite a hottie himself. But at the end of the day, they are on average 20-25 years his junior and he sees them as nice, albeit immature young ladies. And I’m pretty sure they see him as a nice, but old, guy! LOL (sorry sweetie!)

I would expect this to be more likely to crop up when the age gap is smaller (22 yo ap, 27 yo HD) but even then, most APs have better judgement than to $h!t where they eat and most HDs don’t want a messy divorce complete with custody battle and losing their shirt for sleeping with the AP!

This is such a red herring but honestly, if it ever came up, we would be going straight to rematch because the wierdness would be too much for me (or HD) to ever recover a real working relationship…

NoVA Twin Mom August 25, 2014 at 2:05 pm

It sounds like you did exactly the right thing. The fact that the end result was rematch is probably the very best thing that could have happened.

If any of your “counseling” took place by email and your LCC hasn’t seen it yet (or worse, if she hasn’t heard anything about the flirting problem yet) be sure to forward those emails to her so she can see what was happening in “real time”.

Discuss with your LCC what they can give as the reason for rematch – if the story comes only from the au pair, it will sound like a disagreement about schedules rather than the bigger story – and a family like mine, that never needs an au pair to work weekends, might end up with her with no advance warning :) If they hear the whole story and decide to take their chances – so be it.

Though as others have said, we haven’t had a problem with au pairs flirting with my husband. They do sometimes message just him – usually because he messaged them first with a specific question, though. Generally they’re more comfortable, at least at first, communicating with me (or both of us) than just him.

I hate to say it – I think you got a dud. Unfortunately they’re out there, and luckily this isn’t your first au pair or you might think they’re all like this. We’ve had a few duds too. The best thing to do is to cut ties and move on, as painful as it is at the time.

Angie host mom August 25, 2014 at 3:32 pm

I think you just got a dud, and I would worry about putting in place a rule that will come back to bite you with saying she can’t text your husband without texting you.

I’ve heard several au pairs complain that they are not allowed to speak to the host dad, or not allowed to be with him in certain situations. HD in our house goes to the gym, lunch, shopping with our AP – with me, if I can go too, or without me if I can’t – with the kids if it makes sense, without if it doesn’t. That said, I prefer not to leave them and kids home alone while I’m traveling – not because I worry about shenanigans but because I’d rather the kids eat dinner and breakfast and HD has been known to forget to feed them.

Multitasking Host Mom August 25, 2014 at 8:34 pm

We had just the opposite with our first AP. From day one, she was always carefully to never be in too close of proximity with my husband. It still makes me chuckle when I think of the time we were all at an amusement park and got on to a ferris wheel. The kids and I got in first and sat together on one bench. My husband sat on the bench across from us. The AP got on last, took one look at the situation, and squeezed onto the side with the kids and I. Let’s just say she didn’t exactly fit, but she didn’t budge from where she was perched. I never directly addressed it with her….I just thought it was odd behavior since my husband never gave her any reason to act like that, and she was probably of all our APs the one he interacted with the least simply because they didn’t have much in common to talk about. I did later through context clues figure out that several of her friends from back home had made general comments about inappropriate host dads. I guess APs hear those rumors too!

DowntownMom August 25, 2014 at 9:51 pm

Two of ours would give HD big smiles and act coy at the supermarket to make him buy junk food for them. It simply annoyed him. One of them acted cute (never had anyone female do that to me before!), almost flirty, with me when she wanted something out of me. There was nothing to worry about, but I would have rematched if I would even have had a vague inkling that an AP was interested in HD.

Taking a Computer Lunch August 26, 2014 at 8:25 am

I, too, had a female AP who was incredibly insecure, whose voice went into a girlish pitch when she wanted something from me (probably did it with DH too). We both found her incredibly annoying (there were other reasons), but he didn’t want to wait 6 weeks for an out-of-country match, so we made do. I must say, after the year was over, he told me that if we ever found an AP annoying we should go into rematch – he found it unbearable in the end.

DowntownMom August 27, 2014 at 9:38 pm

I wish my HD would learn that lesson! He is always afraid the next one will be worse when we have a bad match and I am longing for rematch…

PhillyMom August 26, 2014 at 10:29 am

This type of behavior is inappropriate and I would worry about underlying psychological issues. There is no reason for any Au Pair to text Host Dad on a regular basis, unless texts are directly related to well-being of kids or state of emergency. I think that she have used scheduling issue as a way out of your family. Also, I am well aware , that for some young girls Au Pair program is a way to marry “a rich American” and stay in the country:(((

Host Mom X August 26, 2014 at 2:41 pm

We’ve had five au pairs and this has never been an issue, toward either host parent. This sounds really odd and not the norm (the flirting issues; the rematch issue sounds like a typical attitude-change that unfortunately happens), and I know you are just coming out of this situation, but I would not let it affect your next AP relationship or change your house “rules” so that you now have specific rules regarding interaction between HD and APs. Honestly, I think those type of rules might themselves create awkwardness, and look bad for HD – an AP reading them might think, “do I have to worry about HD coming on to me? Who is this sketchy guy I now have to live with that I’m forbidden from texting him?”

Tristatemom August 27, 2014 at 2:56 pm

Some people, when I talk about having an AP, make comments about not letting a hot, young AP near their husband or, on the flip side, say that many of these poor young girls are preyed upon by dirty husbands.
Either type of attitude makes me very uncomfortable for I would not want someone in my home that is after my DH (even if he is not interested) or, worse, my DH makes someone uncomfortable with advances. In the first case, I would rematch and the second case I would also rematch and take a good hard look at my marriage. But I really dislike this stereotype about the AP/HF relationship.

Seattle Mom August 28, 2014 at 12:49 am

Never happened to us, after 4 APs (and one rematch). DH teaches college and occasionally he gets the feeling that a student might be flirting with him, usually because they are trying to help their grade (if anything it hurts their grade). He’s so oblivious though, I’m sure it has happened more than he realized. But definitely not with the APs- they all avoid him because he’s cranky :).

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