In love with someone else that isn’t your partner?
Don’t know what to do about it?
It’s a difficult situation to be in.
Relationships require a lot of work, and even during the best of times, they can take a lot out of you.
Committing to one person for the rest of your life seems romantic in theory, but in practice, it can be very difficult for people to spend every single day together for decades on end.
This might take you by surprise and leave you feeling all kinds of guilty and shame.
So what should you do? How do you face them and carry on as if nothing has even happened?
In this article, we’ll go over 8 things you need to know if you’re in love with someone else that isn’t your partner.
1. Is it that big of a deal?
Look, there is no getting around it:
You’re in a sticky situation when you’re developing feelings for someone else that isn’t your partner.
For some of you, you might even be feeling that you’re in love with two people at the same time.
On the other hand, some of you may have lost all attraction for your partner, and now you have no idea what to do.
First, you need to realize that this isn’t as uncommon as some people think.
Most of us have grown up watching Hollywood movies that portray love as all sunshine and rainbows.
Once you’ve found your true love, life is perfect.
Now we all know that’s ridiculous, but it has influenced our mindset.
The truth is obviously different. All relationships encounter challenges. There are highs and lows.
Many people develop feelings for other people during their marriage. Perhaps their partner is going through a difficult time at work and they’re lacking emotional support.
And then out of nowhere that emotional void is filled by someone else outside of the relationship.
This is more normal than many people realize, and it may not be as big of an issue as you think it is.
We’re all human. We’re social beings. Our biological makeup is designed to seek out companionship.
In fact, David P. Brash, a professor at the University of Washington and author of several books on the topics of sex, evolution, and infidelity, says that humans aren’t naturally inclined towards monogamy and that monogamy itself is a recent societal creation.
So don’t get down on yourself.
It doesn’t mean these feelings are permanent. It doesn’t mean you have to act on them.
It just means that you have feelings for someone else.
Here’s what you need to remember:
Emotions are just feelings, nothing more.
It is the action and meaning you associate with them that defines your relationship with your feelings.
2. Remember, you are entitled to your feelings
Second, take a minute to remind yourself that feelings are a normal part of life and even though you weren’t expecting to feel this way, it’s a part of being alive.
After all, love and attraction are spontaneous emotions that we have no control over.
Despite how it might be tearing you up inside to have feelings for someone else, it’s important to acknowledge them and take some time to consider what it means.
Ignoring your feelings won’t make them go away. They’re not going to suddenly disperse.
It’s only when you acknowledge your feelings and understand them that you’ll be able to get rid of them.
It might just be a flirty, playful lust that you find yourself dealing with, or it could be a full-blown love affair in your mind.
Regardless of how you feel, before you take any actions, give yourself time and space to figure out what these feelings mean for you.
It is your life, after all, and you can only live it for you.
3. Explore where the feelings are coming from and what they could reveal about your relationship.
People who are in happy relationships don’t have wandering eyes.
If you find yourself feeling attracted to someone else and worry about what it means, try doing some thought work around your existing relationship.
Ask yourself if you’re really as happy as you think you are or are there problems that keep coming up for you and your partner that isn’t being addressed.
Nothing shines a light on marriage problems more than a possible affair, even if it’s just in your head, and you’ll find it hard to concentrate if you feel pulled in two different directions.
If your relationship is going through some tough times, this attraction might be a reaction to the rejection or hurt you feel from your partner.
Before you make a choice you’ll regret, talk to your partner about what’s going on with the two of you and try to find a way forward.
You might be blinded by the lust you feel, but there’s a reason you’re finding yourself attracted to another person instead of your partner.
This could be a sign that trouble is on the horizon, or it could be simply a playful crush.
But it’s your job to figure out what’s going on here and start making some decisions about what to do with this information.
If you’re married and want to remain married, it’s important to talk to your spouse about what this means for you and your partner and how these feelings could impact the relationship.
The hardest part of breakups is lying and dishonesty so even though you might decide to end your marriage, being honest with your partner ensures you can walk away feeling good about yourself.
Here are some questions you can ask yourself:
How will my decision affect my future?
How will this affect the life of my spouse and my family?
How will this affect the person I’m in love with?
Before you act too spontaneously, it really is important to take a step back and really think about the long-term effects of every person involved that will be affected by your decision.
Remember what I said above:
Feelings are just feelings. It’s the meaning and action that you associate with them that matters.
Feelings are often wrong and temporary. They’re certainly not rational and we shouldn’t follow them blindly.
Really take the time to think about what the long-term implications are for the people who are most important in your life, including yourself.
4. Make some decisions about your relationships.
At this point, you’ve got only two people to consider: yourself and your partner.
While it might seem mighty important to think about this third person with whom you are attracted, you really can’t do anything about that in any meaningful way until you know what you want and what’s best for your relationship.
This is usually where cheating comes in and why so many relationships fall apart. That’s not a path you want to go down.
Rather than sit down and talk to your partner about this attraction and the issues that are leading to it, you might run in the direction of easy comfort.
But these problems always come to the surface.
If you don’t think you want to pursue something with this other person and you realize it’s just a fantasy or phase, couples counseling might help you come together with your partner again in a trusting and loving way.
Make the conscious decision to forget about that person when you are with your partner.
Again, this doesn’t mean you are lying or being deceitful; it simply means that you’ve had a thought and chosen to move on from it.
If you are happy in your relationship and know you don’t want anything more to come of those feelings, you can put your energy into your relationship and move on.
In fact, you can even see this as an opportunity for growth in your relationship.
If you’re developing feelings for someone else outside of your relationship, then it might be that you’re lacking something you need in your relationship.
5. Have an honest discussion
Having an honest discussion is crucial for any healthy relationship.
So, you might want to sit down with your partner and discuss why you feel like you’re lacking something in your relationship.
Let them have their say too.
This is a time not to judge or criticize each other.
It’s simply a time to listen to each other and hopefully come up with a solution that you both can agree with.
Remember: Don’t start getting personal and attack their character.
That is when an honest discussion turns into a heated argument.
Nobody wants that.
Remember, if your relationship is to continue and most importantly, grow, then you need to have a productive discussion that addresses the real issue.
Leave personal insults out of it.
Now if you’ve talked about the real issues about what you feel is lacking in your relationship, and you’ve expressed yourself in an honest, clear, and mature way, that’s great.
If you’ve both agreed to do what you can do to balance the relationship so you have more time for family and being together, then that’s the most you can hope for.
But if over time, you find that they return to the same ways that led to this problem in the first place, then it’s time to ask them again what the hell is up.
It’s important to let them know that they can’t keep repeating this pattern because it’s affecting your relationship.
If all else fails, professional help is always an option, and working through problems is always better than not acknowledging the elephant in the room.
If you decide to move forward with this other person and know the love is real, do your best to end things in a way that doesn’t destroy the relationship.
You don’t have to wreck something or tear it apart before you walk away from it.
You can work through this with your partner so that you can both walk away ready to take on the next phase of life.
Your best bet is, to be honest with your partner about these new feelings.
Unfortunately, a lot of people go to great lengths to lie and hide the truth, but if you want a clean conscience, you’ll be honest with the person you love.
6. Don’t blame yourself
Even if you’re in a committed relationship, it might happen from time to time that you meet someone and find yourself instantly attracted to them.
It doesn’t mean you are a bad person or that you don’t deserve the happiness you already have in your existing relationship.
It means you’re human.
According to dating coach, James Preece, you might feel confused or fearful of harboring feelings for someone else that isn’t your partner.
But he says that you don’t need to react in that way.
“Before you do anything drastic, take a step back. It’s perfectly normal to still fancy other people, even when you are in a happy relationship.”
“You can be in a relationship with someone and still appreciate a good looking person when you see them. A little fantasy here or there is healthy as long that’s all it is.”
When you think about it, it’s a wonder we don’t hear more about this because we live in these little bubbles with our immediate friends, family, and partners and forget that there’s an entire world of people out there that could be just as good – if not better – for us.
So when you meet someone who kind of sweeps you off your feet, just remember that it’s normal to be interested and intrigued by other people. Then, you want to decide what to do about it.
7. Let it pass…
If you’re like most people who develop crushes, it will pass quickly and no harm will be done.
It can be exciting and even thrilling to meet someone new and find yourself attracted to them, but it doesn’t have to go much further than that.
It might even be very exciting if they are flirting with you and seem interested in you, but if you don’t give it any room to grow, it won’t turn into anything.
Again, it all comes down to the decisions you make about your life and how you want to live it.
While relationships are important and it’s always a good idea to work through the problems you have, you still get to decide how to live your one and only life.
If you don’t want to pursue something out of this, let it go away.
Time finds a way to move people on…always.
8. Give yourself some space
If nothing else, let yourself take some time to consider what all this means for you and your relationship.
If you don’t feel comfortable talking to your partner about it, consider seeing a therapist or counselor.
Being able to articulate your feelings might help you uncover some deeper issues or thoughts that are causing you to be attracted to someone else.
Don’t just walk around wondering what’s going on: do the work to find out. You owe your relationship that much.
And one more thing: don’t put any pressure on yourself to come up with an answer right away, especially if these feelings came out of nowhere.
It might just be a passing glance, or it could be something more serious, but nobody said you had to pull out all the stops right now.
You’ll make a decision when you feel right about moving forward.
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