Dear Mistress Maeve,
I have been in a relationship with my wonderful girlfriend for five years. We are happy and I can't imagine anyone else I would want to be with. There have been several times over the past five years when I have found myself with what I see as harmless crushes on other women. Oftentimes they are short lived and I have never cheated. Basically, I'll meet a woman who I find interesting and attractive, and I'll find myself thinking about her a lot and anticipating the next time I'll get to see her. After a couple of weeks, the crush will fade and I always find myself remembering how in love with my girlfriend I am.
Are these crushes just a normal part of being in a long-term relationship, or are they occurring because there is something missing in my relationship? I am certain I would rather be in a relationship with my girlfriend than the women I have had crushes on. Are these harmless, or am I kidding myself?
Dear Crush ’Em,
Some say any flirting or fantasizing outside of a relationship is inappropriate. However, a crush is generally defined as a brief infatuation with someone unattainable — so, what's the harm? In fact, if done respectfully, crushes can keep a long-term relationship more healthy. Crushes brighten our otherwise mundane days (awaiting the crushable delivery person or sharing flirty smiles with the barista who serves up our double latte), and they can also pump up our egos. Thus, when we return home, we're in better moods and feel good about ourselves — both ingredients for keeping the home fires burning.
So, no, you're not kidding yourself; most crushes are harmless. That said, keep yourself on a tight leash. If your crushes begin to take energy away from your primary relationship, address it immediately. Ask yourself, “Why does it feel better to think about this other person, rather my partner?” If you're indulging too much in your crushes, your relationship may be falling short in some ways. If that's the case, don't keep your partner in the dark — address it honestly, describing what you think you're missing and make a plan to move forward together. Otherwise, you run the risk of crushing your relationship.