FYI – having a crush on a person other than your partner is both very common and very normal, according to experts. That attraction doesn’t mean that you’re a crappy girlfriend, a bad boyfriend, or that your relationship is doomed.
But aside from the fluttery feelings, being in a relationship and having a crush on someone else can come with a whole lot of confusion, shame and stress.
If you’re struggling with this situation at the moment, the Internet is here to help. A handy Reddit thread has asked women in committed relationships to share their tips for handling crushes on other people.
1. Don’t nurture the crush
This is a rule that many commenters agreed on – don’t feed these feelings.
“Crushes, by nature, pass,” one Redditor wrote. “I don’t nurture them and they pass.”
“Don’t fantasise, don’t play scenarios in your head, don’t give it energy to grow,” another said. “It’ll pass.”
2. Keep in mind it’s not reality
When you’re caught up in the throes of a crush it’s easy to convince yourself that the grass is greener on the other side. But it’s important to remember that (to be brutally honest) you’ve completely made this up in your head.
“Reminding myself that I’m almost certainly crushing on the idea, not the reality,” one Redditor commented. “The reason the beginning of a relationship is so intense and passionate is because we are swept up in the honeymoon period, in the lighthearted, surface level good. We see primarily the desirable aspects of our (potential) partner. The real test of a relationship comes after, when we begin to see (or let ourselves acknowledge) the bad.”
3. Remind yourself how good you’ve got it
If you are happy in your current relationship, focus on that.
“When someone flits across my mind, I remember that if I pursued that individual, I’d be sacrificing the long term comfort I already have, in exchange for the short term passion they could provide,” one commenter said. “And for me there’s no question which I’d choose.”
“Being a mature adult to me is being able to see compatibility from an objective POV, and you’re really screwing up if you are willing to play into a crush if the person you’re with is truly a compatible match,” another wrote.
One way to remind yourself about the perks of your current partner is by spending more quality time together.
“These crushes happen in part because we are at work/school more than we are awake at home,” one user explained. “So, overcompensate a little. Turn off the TV, get off Facebook & Reddit, and play board games or go for walks. I always think the free dates are more intimate than going out to dinner & drinks, because that can feel like throwing money at your relationship, but those can be fun, too.”
4. Distance yourself
Spending a lot of time with the subject of your affection isn’t going to do yourself any favours.
“What you/I do about them is you be honest with yourself and distance yourself from the person,” a Redditor wrote. “Unless you’re planning to ditch your SO and be with that other person (which probably means it is more than a crush), nothing good comes from keeping a crush around.”
“Don’t be alone with your crush (like never meet up for coffee), because while she can’t avoid working with him, she can avoid seeing him other outside of work,” one commenter said. “Meeting up like that is a chance at taking intimacy to a deeper level.”
5. Use it as an opportunity for self reflection
Having feelings for someone else might say as much about you as it does about how funny/hot/charming your crush is. Take some time to consider why you might be looking outside your relationship.
“I find it a useful tool know when I should re-examine myself and what I want from my relationship,” one commenter wrote. “What is attracting me to this crush? Have my wants and needs from my relationship changed without me quite realising? Has my partner’s behaviour towards me changed without me realising? Has our relationship changed in a way I don’t like? or failed to develop in a way do I want?”
“I used the opportunity to find out something about me and my relationship,” another said of her experience. “Like, I was thinking: why am I attracted to this person? Oh, because he is very funny, and he’s mature, kind of the father type and because I didn’t had a father I am more attracted to guys like this and I’ve been with guys like this, it’s my pattern. So, this wound isn’t completely healed and I yearn for someone to care for me and comfort me like a father would. Or maybe he has a trait that I would like to have. He is daring, I am not, he is ambitious, I used to be more ambitious and now I’m more comfortable.”
6. Determine if it’s a red flag
Although it’s not abnormal to feel into someone while you’ve got a SO, it could also be a red flag that something is up in your relationship.
“Actually during my last relationship I developed a crush on someone, and it was one of the signs that I no longer had romantic feelings for my ex. It only lasted six months though. The relationship was pretty bad, and I should have ended it much sooner, but that was one of my first warning signs that things were not going to last.”
“For me, whenever it’s getting to the point where I need to end the relationship,” another wrote. “I think I start to focus on/like someone else as an easy way out.”
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