Tell me if this sounds familiar: You’re in a relationship, but you meet someone new — maybe it's through a friend, online, or at work — and you feel a little jolt of attraction toward them. No big deal, but then, before you know it, you’ve developed a full-on crush and you're 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 you're better off keeping to yourself?
Knowing whether or not to disclose your feelings can be pretty tricky. Turns out, having crushes on other people while you're in a relationship 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,” she says. As for whether or not you should tell your partner how you’re feeling, that’s where things get a little more complicated.
Both experts agree that if you feel as though your relationship with your crush is starting to cross certain boundaries, it might be time to talk to your partner. “Knowing the difference between a crush and an emotional affair is essential," explains Della Casa. She says it can be easy to cross the line once you find yourself hiding exchanges between you and your crush, or doing things with them you wouldn't do in front of your partner.
“How you handle the crush is the key component as to whether or not you need to involve your partner," says Della Casa. "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 [them] 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."
When these feelings of attraction become deeper, Chong's advice is to take a closer look at your current relationship. These feelings could be warning signs there are issues you and your partner need to address. “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," she says. "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."
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 is the best way to establish your next steps. “Perhaps the answer is not sharing information about the crush and asking to go to couples' therapy, or investing more in your own relationship."
If you decide to tell your partner about your crush, Chong says to do it 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'd rather solve that sooner than later,” she explains.
While what you do in this situation is ultimately 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 on the other side. Keep that in mind when you're deciding what to do next.
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