Tell me if this sounds familiar: You’re in a relationship but you meet someone new — maybe it’s through a friend, oniline, or at work — and you get a little jolt of attraction. No big deal, but then, before you know it, you’re full on crushing on them… and feeling increasingly guilty about it. What are you supposed to do with those feelings? Should you tell your partner if you have a crush, or is it the kind of thing that’s better off kept to yourself?
The answer to that is, well, tricky. However, knowing how to navigate whether or not to disclose your feelings is actually pretty important, because having crushes on other people while you are partnered up is actually really common, as relationship coach Brenda Della Casa tells Elite Daily. “The idea that we stop finding other people attractive as soon as we fall in love or commit to someone is ridiculous. It’s unrealistic to assume your partner will never find someone else sexy or charming, but that doesn’t mean they no longer feel those things about you or want to leave you,” says Della Casa. As for whether or not you should tell your partner how you’re feeling, we’ll, that’s where things get more complicated.
A simple attraction is fine to keep to yourself.
According to Cherlyn Chong, a dating and breakup recovery coach for professional women, being attracted to someone is not immediate cause for concern — nor is it automatically something you need to confess to your partner. In fact, in some cases the best course of action is to keep those feelings private. “I’d keep the information to yourself if it’s nothing that will hurt your partner emotionally. For example, I … fantasize being with celebrities, however, it’s all for fun and I will never take action on it, nor do I want to disgust my boyfriend on how handsome Chris Hemsworth is,” she tells Elite Daily. “It can be an issue, though, when you develop real feelings for your crush that replace the ones you have for your partner, and start contacting them — that can result in an emotional affair very quickly. The trouble starts when the fantasy in your head becomes reality.”
Deeper connections should be disclosed.
Both experts agree that when you feel as though your crush is starting to cross boundaries, it’s time to fess up. “Knowing the difference between a crush and an emotional affair is essential. The second you have done anything you would not do in front of your partner or are hiding exchanges, you have crossed the line,” explains Della Casa. “How you handle the crush is the key component as to whether or not you need to involve your partner. If you think the guy or girl in the office is good looking and funny the same way you like Jimmy Fallon or Jennifer Lawrence, telling your partner isn’t necessary. But if you feed into it (give your number or email, go out of your way to bump into the person, daydream about them, go for coffee or lunch one-on-one, or start comparing them with your partner and wishing you were single), it’s time to take a step back and address the issues you’re having in your relationship,” she adds.
When these feelings of attraction become something deeper, Chong’s advice it to take a closer look at your current relationship as it could be a warning sign that there are issues that need to be addressed. “Very likely, there’s an emotional need not being fulfilled in the relationship, and it’s being fulfilled to such a point — through your crush — that you’re becoming very confused. The line between fantasy and reality has suddenly blurred. Once you realize that this is happening, it’s best to just bite the bullet and come clean to your partner before it gets too overwhelming and you do something you’ll regret,” she says
How to talk to your partner about your crush.
If you feel as though this crush has begun to encroach on your relationship, Della Casa says the first step is to do some honest self reflection about why it’s happening. “The bottom line is to really think about your motivation and your intentions both with the crush and confessing to your partner. Are you crossing a line or fearful of crossing one? Do you feel guilty? Are you trying to make your partner jealous or hurt them in some way? Are you looking to use this as a ‘wake up call’ for your partner?,” she asks. Answering those questions, she adds, is the best way to know the course forward. “Perhaps the answer is not sharing information about the crush and asking to go to couples therapy or investing more in your own relationship,” she suggests.
If you decide to tell your partner about your crush, Chong says to do so as gently as possible. “Remind them that you still love them and still want to work on the relationship, it’s just that something’s lacking or missing in your relationship and you rather solve that sooner than later,” she explains.
While what you ultimately do in this situation is up to you, Della Casa does offer one last bit of advice: “Remember that it is easy to have crushes on strangers. When you don’t know someone, you only see them in a one dimensional way and can project all kinds of fantasies onto them the same way you did your partner before you knew they didn’t pick up their socks or talked throughout your favorite TV program,” she concludes. In other words, the grass isn’t always greener, so you may want to work on your current relationship rather than pursuing a fantasy.
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