Have you ever had a crush on someone while you’ve been in a relationship with someone else? I have, and I’m not just talking about my perma-crush on Johnny Depp. I’m talking about a crush on a reasonably attainable person. I define “crush” as having a desire to have sex and/or an emotional relationship with someone who is not your primary partner while you’re in a monogamous relationship.
While the crush has a bad reputation, there are some surprising benefits to your primary relationship by having and revealing a crush. I recently explored this subject with Sex Therapist and Resident Sexologist at AskMen.com, Dr. Hernando Chaves, and here’s what we came up with.
5 Ways a Crush Can Improve Your Relationship
1. It Can Lead to Hot Sex (with your partner): According to Dr. Chaves, if you’re still making an effort in your primary relationship, having a crush is probably harmless at worst. At best, studies have shown that women have higher satisfaction in relationships if they feel desirable. It doesn’t really matter who is showering you with attention, as long as you continue to funnel that sexy feeling into your primary relationship. I’ve been with my partner for 25 years, and my first crush within the relationship happened (predictably) at about the 7 year mark. That flirtation led to some of the hottest sex my husband and I had had in a long time, and I learned from that experience about the importance of variety to a satisfying sex life.
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2. It Can Keep Your Partner from Being Complacent. When your partner knows you have a crush on someone else, it will probably trigger his insecurities and jealousies explains Dr. Chaves. But if you know how to talk to each other with open and honest communication, this can be a great opportunity to deepen your relationship. When he knows that someone else is interested in you, he’ll be more likely to try harder to be present in the relationship in order to “beat out” the other suitor. Men are naturally competitive, and this is one way to take advantage of a little healthy competition.
3. It Keeps Things Real. Dr. Chaves and I were remembering the Friends episode where Chandler had a deal that he could sleep with five celebrities and his partner wouldn’t get mad. Ross replied, “Ah, the heart of every healthy relationship: Honesty, respect, and sex with celebrities.” When you can be open about it, a crush doesn’t have to do any harm. It’s unrealistic to expect that either of you will ONLY be attracted to each other for the rest of your lives. We’re just not built like that, unless you’re in the minority of people (I estimate about 5% of the population) who are what I call “loyalists.” These are people who are completely satisfied being with one person for their entire adult lives. I happen to have married one of them, but I still get to keep my celebrity list.
4. It Can Strengthen Your Relationship. What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, right? The most successful relationships are those that can talk about and manage emotions when one or both partners get triggered. A person gets triggered when their partner says or does something that subconsciously reminds them of an earlier time when they felt unloved or abandoned. When someone is triggered, they can’t think logically or reasonably. Instead, they instantly revert to the emotional state they were in when the original experience occurred.
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Developing the ability to manage this emotional state and talk about it-- both the trigger and its relationship to the current issue-- is one of the hallmarks of a strong relationship. It’s a skill that takes work to develop; a trained coach or therapist can be a tremendous help in the process. Since studies have shown that an estimated 45% of people have cheated or been cheated on, learning how to manage this relationship skill can strengthen and even save your relationship if and when you find yourself in that situation.
5. It Can Make the Relationship More Authentic. Dr. Chaves says that a relationship has an “increased chance of success when you know (your partner) is “in it” for the long term,” even if they are currently crushing on a co-worker. This goes along with keeping things real and brings it deeper. How many authentic relationships do we really have?
Authentic relationships aren’t easy. They’re gritty and real. They can bring up your fears and insecurities as fast as your inner critic’s monologue. Authentic relationships occur when partners agree to tell the truth unconditionally and to focus on each partner taking 100% personal responsibility for their own happiness. You bring your whole self to the table, not just the parts you want others to see in order to make you look like a better person. Authentic relationships have the power to heal our insecurities and fears, but they first illuminate those insecurities and fears. When we have the courage to be authentic we can make amazing things happen. Try it some time!
Have you ever had a crush while in a committed relationship? Tell us how you dealt with it in the comments!
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Johanna Lyman is a published author, an internationally known speaker and teacher, and a Spiritual Love Coach. She is a certified life coach (CCUG) trained by CoachUniversity. Johanna combines personal experience and esoteric studies in a humorous, practical and accessible style that empowers her clients to live the fullest expression of their lives.
Her business is Romance Recovery: Whether You Stay or Go: Do It With Courage, Clarity and Ease www.romancerecovery.com. She can be reached at Johanna@romancerecovery.com. You can also find Johanna on Facebook.