The Great Mate Debate on Chemistry.com

Topic: Is there anything wrong with a person in a committed relationship having a crush on someone else…as long as it isn’t acted upon? Can it even benefit a relationship? 

Absolutely, positively, 100% not. To both questions.

Let’s work backwards.

First, let’s define crush. Dictionary.com calls it “the object of a temporary infatuation.” Sounds good to me. For the sake of clarity, let’s conclude that a crush is nothing more than a physical admiration. Glancing sideways at the brunette on the beach, commenting on the attractiveness of Clooney? These are crushes. Having an undying affection for your partner’s best friend or an unhealthy relationship with your assistant? These are slippery slopes to an affair. There is a huge difference between them and we are well-served to not conflate the two. Margo’s already touched on this.

That said, there are no relationship benefits to having a crush. Aly talks about how fantasy can spice up reality. I think it’s more likely to make reality seem worse. But that’s secondary to how a crush makes our partner feel.

No matter how much we trust, no matter how secure we are, it still sucks to know that our partner desires another. As a guy who has never been shy about his crushes, not one good thing has come out of my propensity to admire other women. My  appreciation of the opposite sex has done nothing but make most of my partners feel jealous and insecure. (Current girlfriend excepting. Coincidence? I think not.)

On the other hand, does any person in her right mind think that a committed relationship means that everyone else immediately ceases being attractive? This is not only unhealthy, but it’s intellectually dishonest as well.

Now, dishonesty has its place in relationships (The answer to “Do I look fat?” comes to mind), but pretending that your attraction to others just STOPS is preposterous. This doesn’t mean that a man should spend his time harping on how all other women are hotter than his wife. But it does mean he should be able to smile at a waitress without having his head bitten off.

Not everybody’s going to agree with this. But if relationships are largely about accepting each other for who we are, there are far worse things than dating a woman who insists that her “celebrity exception” will be Matthew Fox. Most couples have had rich, active single lives prior to committing. My girlfriend and I certainly did. So why should I worry that she has a thing for swarthy foreigners? What’s the value in her getting upset that I have Tyra Banks’ Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition in a box? Acknowledgment of these foibles diffuses them. Denial of them creates repression and resentment. And repression and resentment are what lead to infidelity.

The way I see it, no matter how cute a random guy at the Halloween party is, all I know is that my girlfriend’s still coming home with me. Which brings me to my final point: Genuine trust is stronger than any passing stranger.

Frankly, both my girlfriend and I would rather talk about which contestants on Dancing With The Stars are “doable” than actually go out and do something about it.

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Comments:

  1. 1
    mrs. vee

    I had a hard time following Evan’s thoughts on this one but I think we generally agree on the matter completely…

    I once ordered a swimsuit from the Victoria’s Secret catalog. Ever since then, I’ve been getting practically one catalog a week in the mail and guess who’s the first to devour it from cover to cover? That’s right. My dear husband. And you know, in a twisted way, I somewhat enjoy his enjoyment of other women? I trust him more than anybody else in the whole world and believe he’d never cheat on me. And so the thought that he might fancy another woman (and that she could desire him back) only makes him more alluring to me.

    But as Mr. Katz said, there’s a difference between my husband having a healthy extramarital attraction to someone else, and being infatuated with her to the point where he longs for a different life altogether – one in which I don’t factor in at all. If I knew my husband really felt that way about another woman, it’d hurt immensely.

    Truth is …we have no control over our mates’ feelings. I think I’m my hubby’s Mrs. Right, but who’s to say Mrs. Right-er couldn’t come along one of these days? All I can pray for is that if my husband ever truly starts to struggle with his attraction for someone else… to where he’s in love and wishes he were free to pursue her, I hope he’d tell me before acting on his feelings. That’s a tall order, and more than I expect from most, but there, I said it. That’s my wish. If that awful day were to ever happen, I hope I’d be mature enough to let him go and let love run its course.

    We can really only manage our own attraction for other people. I, for one, like to fantasize. For example, I love sitting in meetings with “Greg”, imagining myself stroking the soft hair on his huge forearms or biting his sexy Christian Bale lower lip. It entertains me to no end, and the meeting’s over in a blink when he’s in it. My fantasy life here is harmless since I never flirt, never even see “Greg” outside the context of those meetings. It’s just my delicious little inside joke with myself. (And yes, I do fantasize about him and other people during sex and it does make for a hot, active lovelife.)

    In contrast, however, when it comes to having male friends – especially the ones I’ve dated and ESPECIALLY the ones who’ve seen me naked – I’m very careful to keep a healthy distance. Some ex-es are still around in my life, but I purposely don’t spend time with any of them one on one. I’ve downshifted my participation in their lives to social gatherings only. I’m probably not as good a friend to them as I could be but hey, my husband’s comfortable and I promised to forsake all others for the guy I married anyway, so this comes with the territory.

    This is simply me doing my part for the marriage. I preemptively avoid situations where I could be introducing temptation/dissatisfaction into the picture, or where I’d make my husband worry about me in any way.

    I know the original question was whether or not a crush is good for a relationship. I think the answer is … “it depends on the kind of crush and whether the crush is endangering the relationship or distancing the partners from one another in any way.” If not, and if swapping which Lost cast member you think is hotter is a togetherness activity for the two of you, then “crushing”can bring you closer together.

  2. 2
    ABT

    Well said, mrs. vee.

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