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, to help us out with the details. No gender, sexual orientation, or question is off limits, and all questions will remain anonymous. Please send your sex and relationship inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org. Now, onto today’s topic: what to do if you're tempted to end your relationship to try things out with a crush.
Q: “I started dating my boyfriend seven years ago, when I was 18 (he's 5 years older than me).
Recently, I’ve developed a major crush on someone at work. We have such amazing chemistry, and I can’t help but imagine what a relationship would be like with him. In fact, we’ve already had a few close calls, where it seemed like something was going to happen between us.
I love my boyfriend with all my heart, but this is my first relationship of any kind. I worry about the fact that he’s my first and only partner. I really, really don’t want to be the 45-year-old wife that cheats on her husband because she never knew what other men were like in bed or in a relationship.
But I also worry that I'm m getting in over my head. I know the grass is always greener on the other side.
Can I 'temporarily' break up with my boyfriend to test other waters, but still expect him to take me back with open arms if and when things with this new guy don’t work out? Or should I ignore this crush?”
A: You’re in a really tough position right now, and I don’t blame you for feeling so torn and confused. There aren’t any easy or clear-cut answers here, but I can help you work through your thoughts a bit more before deciding what to do.
Crushes Are Normal...
First, I want to point out that it’s totally normal and natural to have a crush on someone else, even while you’re in a relationship with someone you love. Most people seem to think that having a crush while dating someone else is a sign that the relationship is over, but that’s just not true. You’re always going to have chemistry with other people; the trick is understand what you do with that chemistry. If you’re monogamously committed to your partner, you don’t act on your crushes.
...And They Can Be Informative
Having a crush doesn’t mean that your relationship is doomed, but crushes can help shed light on things that may be missing from your relationship. Do you get something from your friendship with your crush that you aren’t currently getting (or have never gotten) from your boyfriend? Are you excited by the possibility of a fling with your crush, or by the possibility of starting another serious relationship? Before you met your crush, how were things between you and your boyfriend? Do you feel valued by your boyfriend? Do the two of you spend enough quality time together? Do you have good communication? Have you been active about maintaining a healthy sex life?
You’re Never Going To Feel Totally Settled
You did meet your boyfriend at a very young age, so it makes sense that you have some questions about what life would be like with other partners. But I also want to point out that you’re always going to have “what if” questions lurking in the back of your mind. Even if you had started dating your boyfriend when you were 25 and had already had lots of previous relationships, you’d still wonder what it would have been like to sleep with someone else, or to pursue a crush.
Plus, it’s not like you’re ever going to have a specific point where you realize you’re “done” testing the waters. You’re never going to be able to know when you’re “done” having flings, relationships, or other romantic or sexual experiences. Odds are, you’re never going to feel 100 percent confident that it’s time to settle down. That’s just life!
Think Through Each Possibility
The main thing you should do is game out each of these two potential scenarios. What would it be like to continue your relationship with your boyfriend, without taking action with your crush? What would it be like to end your relationship with your boyfriend, and try to start something with your crush?
Start with your boyfriend. Where do you see this relationship going? You mentioned that you don't want to be a cheating wife in 20 years, but you never specifically said that you want to marry your boyfriend. Do you actually see your relationship heading in that direction? If you can’t see yourself having a future with him, this crush maybe a sign that your relationship with your boyfriend, as great as it has been, has run its course.
Then think about what it would be like to give things a shot with your crush. Are you positive he’s actually into you? Do you know he wants to be in a relationship? What would it be like for you if things fizzled out with him quickly?
You Can Test The Waters...
If you really feel strongly that you need to pursue something with your crush, you can always end your relationship. Sometimes we do meet people at really inconvenient periods in our lives.
… But You Can’t Expect Your Partner To Wait For You
If you do break up with your boyfriend to pursue this crush, don’t expect your boyfriend to be waiting for you if or when things end with the crush. That’s like telling him, “I like you, but I don’t think you’re good enough for me. Will you just hang out here while I try to find someone who is better than you?” No self-respecting person would wait in a situation like that.
Give Yourself Time
One of the confusing things about crushes is that they’re so intense, they make it feel like you need to take action on them right away. But the truth is that there’s no reason why you need to act right now. You have time to make a decision, and you should give yourself time. You’ve been with your boyfriend for seven years. Ending a long relationship over a crush you’ve had for a few weeks doesn't just have the potential to be a bad idea — it would be disrespectful.
So give yourself time. Keep away from tempting situations with your crush, and see what happens to your feelings as time goes on. Oftentimes, you'll find that the feelings fade away surprisingly quickly.