7 Signs Your Partner May Be Attracted To Someone Else, But Hasn't Acted On It
Over the course of a relationship, it's perfectly natural for attraction to continue outside of the two of you. There is, however, a line between an innocent crush versus cheating. If your partner may be attracted to someone else, paying attention to the signs and having open conversations can help.
First, it's important to understand the nuances of being attracted to others while in a relationship. Most likely, no one can completely turn off their natural attraction to others, even if they're totally in love and committed. It's the scale of these attractions that is significant, however. "It's normal for someone to find others attractive, but the intensity of the attraction is what matters," David Bennett, certified counselor and relationship expert, tells Bustle. Crushing on a celebrity, for example, is a completely different ballpark than being attracted to a coworker.
Even a real life attraction doesn't have to be that big of a deal, however. "Having your partner be attracted to someone else doesn't feel good, but it can be good for your relationship if handled properly," licensed therapist Dr. Jameson Mercier, tells Bustle. "See it as an opportunity to talk with your partner about your relationship. People change over time and so do their needs and desires. Remember also, that not all attractions lead to romantic encounters." The fact that this attraction is happening doesn't necessarily indicate serious problems in your relationship — but it could be an opportunity to communicate more.
Here are seven signs your partner may be attracted to someone else — but hasn't acted on it, according to experts.
1They've Started Talking About Someone Else A Lot
If your partner is attracted to someone else, but hasn't acted on it, they may be less worried about hiding how much they talk about the person they've been crushing on.
"They might be thinking of this other person so much, that they cannot help talking about [them] in front of you," relationship therapist and dating coach Irina Baechle, LCSW, tells Bustle. Hearing them talk glowingly about this person may be frustrating, but it could be a good indicator that they have less to hide. If it begins to bother you, ask them about it.
2They Seem A Bit Emotionally Detached
Your partner may be feeling conflicted and confused if they've developed feelings of attraction to someone else. In some cases, this can come across if they exhibit cold behavior towards you.
"[It's a sign if] your once loving partner seems distant and cold," Baechle says. This change in behavior is a clear sign that it's time to start communicating a bit more openly in your relationship.
3Their Routine Has Changed
A change in routine may indicate that your partner's got some internal conflict going on. If you've noticed new habits in your partner, alongside other signs, it may be an indicator of a crush.
"In working with couples, the biggest indication of attraction to someone else is a change in behavior [or] routine," Dr. Mercier says. If you've noticed that they're spending more time at work, developing new interests, or withdrawing from regular activities as a couple, it's possible they're dealing with an outside attraction. Asking your partner about how they're feeling may help, and can reveal if things have gone further than an innocent crush.
4They're Giving You Less Romantic Attention
A partner withdrawing romantic attention could happen for a variety of reasons — one of these reasons is being attracted to someone else.
"Typically people only have so much romantic energy in them, so if you notice your partner is giving you less romantic attention, and seems to be directing their time and energy to another person or group of people (like spending a lot more time at work social events, for example), I would start to wonder if they are crushing on someone else," Bennett says. If your partner is giving you less attention, asking them about it or seeing a couples therapist might help.
5They're Bothered By A Friend's Relationship
While it's pretty common to have opinions on your friends' partners, there is a line between interest and fixation. If your partner is paying particular attention to a friend's relationship, that may be a sign.
"If your partner seems very jealous and bothered by the romantic relationships a friend or acquaintance is in, they may be attracted to that person," Bennett says. "Usually it will take the form of comments about how that person can do so much better, and the intensity of the jealousy will go beyond simple concern for that person's well-being." If you've noticed your partner doing this, it may be worth it to ask them a bit more about why they're feeling this way.
6They're Paying A Lot Of Attention To Someone's Social Media
While it's important to have social media boundaries in your relationship, it's not always very hard to notice when your partner's online habits have changed. If they have begun paying lots of attention to a particular person's page, that may be a sign of attraction.
"People tend to strongly pay attention to someone they are attracted to," Bennett says. "If your partner seems to always stalk a particular person on social media (including liking a lot of their statuses) I would assume some level of attraction, especially if that other person is attractive [or] your partner's usual 'type.'" Bringing this issue up may be difficult, but if it's bothering you, it's worth getting off your chest.
7They're Sharing With You Less
If your partner has stopped sharing their everyday thoughts and feelings with you, that's likely a sign that something in the relationship needs to be addressed. One potential cause of this issue is outside attraction — even if it hasn't been acted on.
"[It's a sign if] your partner has stopped talking to you about both trivial and important things," Baechle says. "Maybe they are sharing the details of their day or their life with someone else." Asking them more about their life, or expressing how the lack of conversation makes you feel, may help close some of the distance between the two of you.
Having a partner that is attracted to someone else, even if they don't act on it, can be quite difficult. Paying attention to the signs of attraction is very important, but so is being able to express your feelings about the situation. It's quite possible that with some open communication, the problems between the two of you can be remedied before they become too serious.