In a perfect world, your partner would only have eyes for you. The reality is, however, they're human. They may have
fantasized about other people at some point and you might have too. But can something so common spell trouble for your relationship? When it comes to fantasizing about other people, experts say there is a fine line between what's OK and what can be problematic.
"It is natural for people to develop interest and
fantasize about people other than their partners," Rachel Perlstein, LCSW, relationship coach and co-founder of A Good First Date, tells Bustle. "When shared with a partner, this can even bring a couple closer together, especially if both are open with it."
However, it can become problematic if the fantasy becomes too consuming, distracting, or harmful to the relationship. "If someone is no longer present with their significant other in everyday life or it starts to disrupt intimacy between the couple, it's time to evaluate what continuing this behavior is costing this person," Perlstein says.
If your partner is fantasizing about someone else in a way that can be harmful to your relationship, it can manifest in a number of different ways. According to Perlstein, any sort of change in their behavior or your relationship dynamic is important to pay attention to. So here are some subtle clues that your partner may be fantasizing about someone else, according to experts.
They Develop New Hobbies Or Interests Out Of Nowhere
From a sudden obsession with fitness to a sudden new interest in art, Amica Graber, relationship expert with
Truth Finder, tells Bustle, "A partner who is thinking about someone else may suddenly have a desire to improve themselves physically or develop an obsessive interest in things that their 'fantasy person' is interested in." To be fair, people will take up hobbies out of nowhere. If you've been with your partner for a while, you should have an idea of what new hobbies would make sense for them. But if something seems completely out of character, it's OK to be curious and ask them about it.
They Casually Mention Someone's Name In Conversation All The Time
"Most humans are not gifted liars," Graber says. "If your significant other is constantly thinking about someone else, they're going to give it away by talking about them." It's why people like spilling all the details of their new relationship to their friends or why others like
venting about their relationship issues to anyone who'll listen. But according to Perlstein, whether or not this is problematic all depends on the "context of the comments and the related emotion." For instance, if they seem like they're always gushing about how great someone else is, pay attention to that. They may be developing a crush.
Things In The Bedroom Feel Off
Each couple creates their own norms when it comes to physical intimacy, Perlstein says. So if you notice a change in your partner's behavior during sex, it may be time to get curious. As with anything that troubles you in your relationship, Perlstein says talking with your partner about their shift in behavior can help you get to the bottom of things.
They Accidentally Call You Someone Else's Name
"Also called a Freudian slip or parapraxis, calling you by someone else's name is a major way to tell that they may be thinking about someone else," Graber says. If they do this one time, have a laugh about it and move on. Chances are, it probably doesn't mean anything. But if it's something that happens a few times or worse, during sex or other affectionate moments, it's a pretty big clue they may be
thinking of someone else.
They've Started Laying Their Phone Face Down Whenever You're Around
Your partner suddenly becoming secretive with their phone and computer can be a cause for concern. "If you and your partner have an open policy when it comes to devices and suddenly your partner starts acting weird about you touching their phone or computer, there's probably a reason for it," Perlstein says. Again, bring this up to them in a non-confrontational way. According to Perlstein, they may be planning a surprise for the two of you or hiding something else they really don't want you to see. Whatever you do, just don't automatically jump to conclusions until you talk about it.
They've Made Subtle Suggestions About Changes They'd Like You To Make
They may make a comment on how they prefer your hair to be longer or a different color. They may even mask it behind a compliment. "If they suddenly want you to dress or act a different way in front of them, they could be hoping that you [will act] more like the someone else they are thinking about," relationship therapist,
Katie Leikam, LCSW, tells Bustle. Just to be clear, you should never change yourself for anyone, not even your partner. But in this case, fantasies can be fun. If your partner has a fantasy person in mind and you're willing to have a little fun with it, go for it. As long as both of you are in on the fantasy, Leikam says, it won't cross any lines.
You've Caught Them All Over Someone Else's Social Media
If your partner starts following someone on social media and likes everything they post, you can ask them about this. "While it's great to make new friends and there is no crime in following someone on social media, there may be something more to the behavior if your partner seems a bit consumed by this person," Perlstein says. Basically, it's only a problem when you feel like it's getting in the way of your closeness.
To be fair, some of these behaviors can be completely innocent. So don't automatically assume anything before you get all the facts. Also keep in mind that just because your partner is fantasizing about someone else, it doesn't necessarily mean that they're going to cheat. But if their behavior starts to bother you and it's causing some distance, don't be afraid to have a conversation with them about it. At the end of the day, Perlstein says, a fantasy is just that — a fantasy. So don't allow it to ruin the relationship you've built together in real life.