A Therapist Breaks Down What To Do If You Have Chemistry With Your Friend's Partner
by Jamie Kravitz

Your best friend has impeccable taste. You trust her choice in clothes, restaurants, and even potential partners. It's just one of the many reasons you enjoy having her in your life. Sometimes, though, your bestie uses her talents to find the perfect boyfriend or girlfriend for herself, and you can't help but be a little envious of their relationship. Especially if you spend a lot of time with them both, you might notice some chemistry between you and your best friend's significant other. It's one thing to have a crush on your friend's boyfriend or girlfriend, but it's another thing entirely to act on those feelings.

If you find yourself thinking about a good friend's partner in a romantic way, don't freak out. I spoke to relationship expert Anita A. Chlipala, LMFT and author of First Comes Us: The Busy Couple's Guide to Lasting Love, about how to handle this less-than-ideal situation in the most graceful way possible. She has advice about who it's safe to share your secret feelings with, which potentially uncomfortable situations you can avoid, and how you should proceed if the two do eventually break up. So if you find yourself crushing on a friend's boyfriend or girlfriend, here are four steps you can take to ensure the situation doesn't get out of hand.

Tell a different friend or a family member about your feelings.

While you don't want how you're feeling to get back to the friend in question, keeping the secret completely to yourself isn't the best idea, either. "Secrecy fuels passion, so keeping your feelings to yourself can actually make things feel hotter between you and your friend's partner," says Chlipala. She suggests talking to a different friend or a family member about the chemistry you've experienced with your friend's partner. If you think you might be judged or you're worried they'll tell, consider discussing your feelings with a therapist instead.

If you're constantly thinking about how great he or she is, what a good partner they make, or how it would feel to kiss them, try not to let those daydreams run wild. Talking to someone about your crush can actually help you keep your beliefs and fantasies in check. "The most important thing is don't keep these feelings to yourself," says Chlipala. "Having an attraction is normal, and sometimes we can't help who we are attracted to. But you have a lot of power and control to not fuel these feelings and fantasies."

Keep your distance from him or her.

As much as you can, you should try to get some distance from this person. "Avoid spending any alone time with them, and keep your physical distance if you're hanging out together as a group. Don't sit by them and don't seek them out if you're at a party. You may want to avoid accepting some invitations where he or she will be present until your feelings have subsided," says Chlipala.

Try not to cause group situations to feel awkward. You don't have to make your attempts at getting distance obvious in order for them to be effective. If anyone questions your behavior, you can say that you're just trying to branch out and strengthen your connections with other friends in your life.

Consider the consequences of cheating.

While some of these solutions might sound extreme, Chlipala has over a decade of experience working with people who have cheated, and she can map out how most people fall into emotional and physical affairs. "It starts by thinking interactions with the other person are innocent," she says. You have thoughts such as, "we're just flirting, no big deal," or "we're just friends." Even if you don't think you would ever cheat, over time you take small, seemingly innocent steps — like flirting, seeking them out to talk to them, and sharing your own love problems — that lead you down the path toward cheating.

"Don't assume you won't cheat. People get themselves into trouble because they assume they're not 'that type' of person ... There's not a type that cheats," Chlipala says. Even if you aren't physically acting on your feelings, remember that you could be having an emotional affair. If you have chemistry and secrecy, the only thing missing is the emotional connection. That's why it's important to be mindful of the kinds of conversations you have and the information you share with your friend's partner, according to Chlipala.

Focus on finding your own special someone.

"If you're single, make sure you're dating and meeting potential partners. If you're in a relationship, reinvest the energy from your fantasies into your own relationship," says Chlipala. If you are dating someone, remind yourself of all of their positive qualities. Also, think about the consequences that cheating would have on your other relationships, like with your mutual friends. You could potentially lose your significant other, your friend, her significant other, and the rest of your social circle if you act on these feelings.

It's critical that you avoid involving your friend or her significant other any further. Even if you have good intentions, telling one or both of them about your feelings could make the situation much worse. "What happens if your friend marries this partner? They'll probably be hyper-alert that something may happen between you and their partner, and you may lose a friend. This would be within your friend's right as you are a threat to their relationship. You are not a 'friend of the relationship' if you are actively fueling your feelings," says Chlipala.

There are plenty of fish in the sea. While it can be tempting to go after your friend's boyfriend or girlfriend, as long as they're together, that person is off limits. In the event that they do break up, after an appropriate amount of time you can ask your friend if she is OK with you dating her ex. If she isn't, don't do it — unless you are willing to lose her and potentially other friends to that relationship.

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