We’re always hearing that we could be having better sex, a better orgasm, or a better relationship. But how often do we hear the nitty-gritty of how we can actually better understand our deepest desires and most embarrassing questions? Bustle has enlisted Vanessa Marin, a sex therapist based in San Francisco, to help us out with the details. No gender, sexual orientation, or question is off limits, and all questions remain anonymous. Now, onto this week’s topic: what to do when you have a crush on someone else and you're thinking about cheating.
Q: I’ve been in a relationship for the last three years. I love my boyfriend (we’ll call him Trevor) deeply, and I think we have a solid relationship. I could even see us getting married in the future. Recently though, I’ve started developing feelings for one of my guy friends (let’s call him Caleb). I’ve known Caleb longer than I’ve known my boyfriend. We’ve always been a little flirty in a joking way, but we’ve never been single at the same time. Caleb just broke up with his girlfriend and has been turning to me for a shoulder to cry on. I’ve been finding myself feeling very attracted to him, which makes me feel terrible. But I can’t help but picture what it would be like to be with him. I’ve had other little crushes at different points in the last three years, and I feel like a horrible person for it. What’s wrong with me? I was really young when Trevor and I first started dating (19), so part of me wonders if I didn’t give myself enough time to date around...
A: Thanks for the question! I’m so sorry to hear about this sticky situation. We don’t really have any control over our hearts, but having feelings for someone who is not your significant other usually feels terrible.
But I’ve got your back girl! Here are seven questions to help you figure out your next step.
1. “Am I being too hard on myself?”
It’s perfectly normal to have a crush, even when you’re happily in love with someone else. Being in a relationship doesn’t automatically blind you, nor does it turn off your sex drive. Part of being human is being attracted to other humans!
Plus, you may find Caleb extra attractive since he’s so vulnerable right now. He’s really leaning on you in this difficult time, and you may be feeling drawn to him because it feels nice to be needed.
The bottom line here is that crushes are normal and they don’t need to mean anything. You might be making the situation worse by beating yourself up unnecessarily.
2. “Can I use this energy for good?”
Having a crush on someone can fire up some serious sexual energy! You’re obviously feeling uncomfortable with having a crush right now, but I think it’s possible to bring that energy back into your relationship. It might feel like your desire for another person can ignite a spark between you and your boyfriend.
You might not want to be thinking about your crush while you're kissing your boyfriend, but you can try redirecting your desire towards your boyfriend. You might notice a surge in your libido, an extra little hip swivel in your walk, or even a sense of power. Pounce on your boyfriend with all that lust.
3. “Do I need to create some distance?”
It sounds like you haven’t taken any action on your attraction to Caleb, but you’re finding it increasingly difficult to exhibit self-control. Caleb is needing a lot of support right now, and your being that support for him is naturally creating more emotional intimacy in your friendship. It may be time to re-evaluate what role you can play in his life and in his emotional healing right now.
Cheating can come in physical and emotional forms. You might want to consider creating some physical and/or emotional distance between you and Caleb for the time being. How can you make sure you stay in the “friend zone” with him? That might include not seeing him in person (or only seeing him when other people are around too) or not talking to him over the phone or text for a while. I know he’s a good friend, but you may not be able to be the kind of support that he needs at this time.
4. “Am I glamorizing my crush?”
Part of the allure of having a crush is the fantasy of what could happen. Your mind can create all kinds of exotic (and erotic!) daydreams about how the two of you could finally be together. It’s easy to get carried away!
Instead, try picturing the realistic aftermath of what might actually happen if you cheated on Trevor, or dumped Trevor to be with Caleb. Imagine thinking about Trevor while you kissed Caleb. Imagine Caleb telling you his feelings about his ex are still too strong to start a real relationship with you. Imagine you and Caleb getting in your first big fight … you get the picture!
Of course you can never know exactly what the future holds, but trying to inject some realism into your fantasies can go a long way towards helping you make a more thoughtful decision.
5. “How do I really feel about my boyfriend?”
Nineteen is pretty young to start a serious relationship, especially one that you could see eventually ending in marriage. It’s possible that your crush on Caleb is a sign that you need to reconsider your relationship with Trevor. Like I said before, lots of people have crushes when they’re in relationships. Most of the time, those crushes are harmless, but sometimes they’re a sign that it’s time to move on from the relationship.
I would try to think about your feelings for Caleb separately from your feelings for Trevor. I know this is hard to do, but try not to compare the two of them. Pretend that Caleb doesn’t even exist, then ask yourself how you’re feeling about Trevor. Try to answer as honestly as you can. Are you still feeling excited about your future together? Does it still feel like there's a lot of potential between the two of you? Is your heart telling you that you’re just not ready for this serious of a relationship right now?
6. “Would I still want my crush even if I had to wait 3 months?”
One good way to test your feelings is to make a promise to yourself that you won’t act on your feelings for Caleb until you’d been broken up with Trevor for at least three months. If you were serious about maintaining that boundary, would you still be feeling that strong of a pull towards Caleb?
7. "Can I have them both?"
I'd be remiss if I didn't point out that you always have the option to speak with your boyfriend about opening up your relationship. I'm not sure how you and your boyfriend feel about monogamy, but there are many different types of non-monogamy. Non-monogamy isn't a quick fix, but it's definitely an option worth considering.
I hope these questions help bring you some clarity. Best of luck figuring it all out!
Images: Flickr; Giphy