7 Tips: How to Deal With a Crush When Married Our bodies are packed with chemicals that respond to other humans… and not always just our spouse. Here's how to deal with the feelings of an extramarital crush. BY DR. TRINA READ
Technology has made navigating a crush more difficult than in the past.
“ If you can’t tell your husband or wife what you’re doing, then you probably shouldn’t be doing it. Even if it is innocent.”
Let's get the big question out of the way—it's normal to develop a crush on someone other than your spouse. Unless you decide to live as a monk with absolutely no human contact it’s inevitable you will periodically meet someone who shares an attraction. You may think you’re the worst person in the world, but in truth you’re simply human. Chemistry is uncontrollable and a natural phenomenon.
As my deeply-in-love parents told me growing up, "We’re married, not dead." Just because you are in a relationship doesn’t mean you suddenly stop noticing people. Crushes on bosses, co-workers, cute coffee shop attendees, waitresses, neighbors and anyone else you come into contact with on a regular basis is bound to happen…and that’s okay.
So what are you supposed to do when you’re in a happily committed relationship and come face-to-face with an extramarital crush?
Here are a few ways to ensure your harmless crush stays that way; and, more importantly, what the crush can teach you about your marriage.
1. It will pass. According to psychologists, a crush lasts on average for four months; if feelings persist beyond that you're moving into the territory of being "in love."
While we’re in the middle of this crush, the X-factor on how we decide to act on it, which not surprisingly comes down to our character, personality traits, as well as satisfaction in our current relationship.
The majority will see this for what it is and have the checks and balances to understand this is a temporary thing and let the crush die a natural death.
2. Evaluate and learn from your crush. There is some evidence to suggest that there's something to be learned from your crush. Being attracted to someone, or even being more inclined to notice attractiveness in others is what psychologists term "attention to alternatives." Research shows those with greater relationship satisfaction pay less attention to alternative partners.
Obsessive thinking is the hallmark of an intense crush and a big red flag. It’s definitely time to reflect on your relationship: what may be going on there—or not going on—causing you to be so swept away by someone else.
3. It's time to talk. A crush may reveal you’re not having as much fun with your partner as you used to and have fallen into bad habits. Or it may indicate you’ve allowed too much emotional distance to crop up.
If you’re feeling lonely, this is the time to discuss it with your husband or wife.
4. Technology has made it massively more difficult to navigate these crushes. Even before technology, the idea of window shopping or flirting was a big contentious issue for couples in a committed relationship. It’s natural for our partner to feel insecure knowing you are in the throes of, "I’ve just met someone new" wonderful feelings. It’s hard to compete with that euphoric state when you’re the long term partner.
Now, the idea of what is crossing the line is difficult to define because there are so many—innocent—ways to keep in touch with a crush and the boundaries are grey and fuzzy: maybe it’s okay to chat on Facebook, but not okay if you Skype. It’s okay to text, but not meet for coffee.
5. Some lines should not be crossed! Definitive rule: If you can’t tell your husband or wife what you’re doing, then you probably shouldn’t be doing it. Even if it is innocent.
Although you can’t control chemistry, you can control your actions. It’s how you behave in the face of this temptation that will reveal your character. If you are making regular coffee dates with your secret crush because you just want to spend time with them, you’ve crossed the line between a normal crush to a slippery slope that can lead to emotional or physical infidelity.
6. It may or may not be okay to keep your crush a secret. Generally, I would say never keep secrets from your spouse, but in this situation there are some caveats. You may think an emotional a crush is harmless, but your partner may consider it cheating.
To fess up is a personal choice. Some believe keeping those feelings a secret constitutes a form of betrayal. To others, crushes are private things and the only reason you tell your spouse is to relieve your own guilt.
You need to ask yourself, by telling your partner how will it help your marriage?
7. Acknowledge the crush. Best case scenario: You have a relationship where you can acknowledge crushes as they happen rather than hide them from each other. Communicating helps us see the crushes for what they are—a momentary distraction.
Remember, while in the throes of a crush you are living in a fantasy world which looks infinitely better than the hard work of our long term relationship. The more you indulge a crush the more that someone will consume you until you do something you might regret. Conversely out of sight is out of mind in a very short time span.
Dr. Trina Read is the founder of VivaXO.com; a leading relationship and sexual health expert and educator; and is a best selling author, media expert, syndicated blogger, international speaker, magazine columnist, and spokeswoman. Trina has just launched Sensual Tastes Events, an interactive workshop blending the pleasures of food and sex education. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.