Q: I’m in a relationship and I love my partner, but sometimes I find myself feeling attracted to others. Is it normal to be attracted to other people besides my partner?
The short answer is yes. Finding people attractive other than your partner when you’re in a happy, committed, monogamous relationship from time to time is normal, typically harmless and generally isn’t an indication that there’s trouble in paradise.
From a young age, society force feeds us this unrealistic, unattainable Hollywood romantic myth that when we’re in a happy relationship we shouldn’t feel attracted to anyone else because we have found ‘the one’. So, it’s hardly surprising that feeling attracted to other people is one of the most common hurdles that can induce guilt and worry in a monogamous relationship.
The reality is that humans are wired to be attracted to other people, and you’re probably going to feel attracted to lots of people over your lifetime, whether you’re in a relationship or not. Finding people attractive and wondering what it’s like to hook up with them is a normal, natural and inevitable part of being a human being. Plus, it’s a big wide world out there and there are a lot of attractive people moving around in it…
Unfortunately, desire doesn’t care about your relationship status, and finding others attractive isn’t something that magically disappears when you get into a relationship. While we can’t control our thoughts and what we’re attracted to, we can control our actions and how we’re going to handle those attractions.
There’s no harm in enjoying the brief giddy rush that comes with experiencing attraction or a cheeky flirt with a stranger passing by, but don’t let it consume you. It’s when an attraction tips over into an infatuation or an obsession that you choose to nurture with flirting or fantasies that it becomes dangerous and unfair for your relationship.
If you’re still unsure about your attractions towards others, ask yourself if the thoughts you’re having are affecting your relationship with your partner. Are they affecting your behaviour? Are you pulling away or acting distant? Are you treating your partner differently? Has your attraction to your partner diminished? Is your attraction to others getting in the way of your sex life? Do you have a crush or attraction that you intend on pursuing? If yes, then this is a sign that you need to address your behaviours and thoughts either with yourself, a therapist or a couple’s counsellor.
Ultimately, remember, behaviours should be judged, not thoughts or fantasises. Plus, the chances are that your partner probably experiences the same thing.