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What To Do If You're In A Relationship But Falling For Someone Else

It's a tricky convo to navigate.

by Korey Lane and Isabel Calkins
Originally Published: 
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No one expects to go through a Something Borrowed-esque situation IRL — meaning, it’s never easy falling in love with someone else when you are in a relationship. You don't want to have to end one relationship in favor of another, especially one you aren’t sure is going to work in the long run, but sometimes, when you are in love with someone else, that's just the way it works out. So, what do you do? How do you handle breaking up when you’ve fallen for someone else, without breaking every heart along the way?

Of course, the first thing you should do is determine whether this other person is worth leaving your current relationship. According to Dr. Martha Lee — clinical sexologist and author of Love, Sex and Everything In-Between and Orgasmic Yoga it’s totally possible to love your partner but have a crush on someone else. “It's common and normal to admire, be attracted to, and pine for people who are beautiful, smart, wonderful, amazing, confident, or rich," she previously told Elite Daily. But if you find that your feelings go beyond a crush and you truly can't stay in your current relationship anymore, here’s how to end things as painlessly as possible.

Ask Yourself The Hard Questions

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It's important to note that falling for someone else doesn't automatically mean you should end things with your partner. In fact, you should break up with your significant other "only if you already believed that your partner is not the best match for you" prior to falling for someone else, as licensed clinical psychotherapist and relationship expert Dr. LeslieBeth Wish tells Elite Daily.

One way to figure out the answer to this is by asking yourself, “If this other person — the one you fell in love with who is not your SO — wasn’t in your life, would you still be with your current partner?” If the answer to this is yes, then what you may think is true love might actually just be a fling, something exciting and out of the ordinary and not actually worth ending a relationship. If the answer to this is no and there are other problems in your relationship besides just the fact that you are interested in somebody else, then you want to start thinking about how to have that tough conversation with your partner.

Reflect Before Taking Action

After you’ve reflected on your current relationship and whether or not you actually want to be in it — regardless of the new person — then you can start to think about next steps. But don’t rush it. Sure, maybe you met someone new and have an instant connection, but Dr. Wish warns against taking drastic action. "Falling in love with someone else when you are in an intimate relationship can be like eating dessert first and then assuming that the main meal was equally as good," she says.

Just because this new person is cute, sweet, and funny doesn't mean it would work out between you two if you left your current partner for them. Dr. Lee warned against making a final decision based on attraction, especially if it's just sexual. "Contrary to what a lot of people seem to think, not all attraction is meant to be acted upon or even beneficial," she said. When you're crushing on someone, you're likely just playing up their good qualities, especially if you compare them to qualities your current partner is lacking.

Write Down The Reasons Why You Want To Break Up

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According to Dr. Wish, you should take a look at why you want to break up before actually doing the breaking up. Then, have an honest conversation with your partner. "If breaking up is the best choice, then tell your current partner why the relationship is not working for you," she says. "After all, that should be the main reason you are breaking up — not that someone else has come along."

Additionally, if you've fallen for someone else while currently in a relationship, then your relationship might not be on very good terms to begin with. "I think that the fact the you even had the opportunity to fall for someone else says a lot about your investment in your current relationship," Trina Leckie, breakup BOOST podcast host tells Elite Daily. "If you are really happy and satisfied with your current partner, there would be no need to be looking elsewhere… and frankly, you wouldn’t want to risk losing what you have." So perhaps you falling for someone else is just another sign that your current relationship isn't working out too well.

Break The News Gently

Breaking up with someone hurts — for both parties involved — so go easy on your partner. "Sit them down and have a kind, caring, and compassionate discussion (no text or email breakups)," Leckie advises. She says to try to "end the relationship without giving them details about the other person because that can be extremely hurtful, really bruise their confidence, and make them fearful of getting in future relationships."

She suggests you start gently. "Start off the conversation by saying something positive about them and about the time you shared together (to soften the blow a bit)," she continues. "Explain that you don’t feel as invested in the relationship anymore and you feel it would be better for both of you to go your separate ways. Anticipate that they may get upset or even angry, but it is imperative to stay calm and compassionate. Put yourself in their shoes. On the other hand, their intuition may have already told them that something was off, so it may not come as a huge surprise to them."

Whatever you do, be honest and be kind. No one goes into a relationship thinking they're going to end it for someone else, but when it does happen, prioritize your wellbeing. Just remember to really think things through and do what's best for you and your relationship.


Dr. Martha Lee, clinical sexologist and author of Love, Sex and Everything In-Between and Orgasmic Yoga

Dr. LeslieBeth Wish, licensed clinical psychotherapist and relationship expert

Trina Leckie, breakup BOOST podcast host

Editor's Note: This story has been updated by Elite Daily Staff.

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