You’re in a relationship. Perhaps a long term one.
And yet, recently, there’s been someone else on your mind.
You’ve developed feelings for someone who’s not your partner.
And you’re struggling to figure out what you should do about it.
Odds are, your feelings have developed on their own, and have rather taken you by surprise.
I’m assuming you didn’t go out purposefully looking for someone new. If you did, that’s a different kettle of fish entirely.
Maybe your relationship is going wonderfully, or maybe it’s been going through a rough patch…
Either way, you’ve found yourself in a tricky situation, and you’re probably feeling a bit confused with lots of questions running through your mind.
What do these feelings mean for your relationship?
Is it ever possible to have feelings for two people at once?
Why might you be feeling this way?
And what should you do about it?
This is a highly confusing situation to be in, so let’s break it down into stages.
Firstly, you’re going to have a chance to explore what you’re feeling.
Then, we’ll dig deeper and think about where those feelings are coming from.
And lastly, we’ll think about what these feelings might mean for your relationship and how you should start to move forwards from here.
Stage one: exploring your feelings.
So, you know that this person has got you feeling something. But, if you’re in a relationship, you’re probably hiding these feelings away rather than facing up to them and examining them.
Hard as it might be, it’s time to unpack your feelings.
Get them out of the box you’ve been hiding them in and consider what the nature of these feelings actually is.
Ask questions such as:
– Is it a purely sexual attraction?
– Are you experiencing lust towards this person?
– Are you craving physical contact with them?
– Is it their personality that attracts you?
– Do you enjoy their company?
– Do they make you laugh?
– Do you want to spend time with them?
– Do you want to know their opinion on things?
– If you’re totally honest, could you ever see yourself in a lasting relationship with this person?
Stage two: understanding the root cause of your feelings.
Right, so now you’ve spent some time figuring out what the nature of your feelings are toward this person, it’s time to think about where they come from.
There are three main areas you need to consider: are they a result of the person themselves, are they a result of the relationship you’re currently in, or are they all down to something going on with you, and nothing to do with this person or your partner at all?
Let’s examine these more closely.
1. You like them for them.
Maybe your relationship is going really well. You’re happy and fulfilled with your partner, and genuinely want to keep building your life with them.
In this case, if you’ve met someone you’re attracted to, it might entirely be down to the connection you have with that particular individual.
You don’t always have to look for underlying causes. It might be as simple as accepting that you’re attracted to them for who they are.
Consider carefully whether this really is the case. If you think it is, can you put your finger on what it is about them that makes them so special?
Why have they got, in particular, that’s caught your eye?
You might not be able to put it into words, but you should be able to figure out whether they really are something special.
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2. Your relationship is going through a rocky patch.
Of course, sometimes there are underlying causes in the form of issues with the relationship you’re in.
The feelings you’ve developed for someone else might not have much to do with the person that you’re feeling them for, but with what’s missing from the relationship that you’re in.
Maybe you’re craving physical affection.
Maybe you’re craving emotional intimacy.
Maybe you feel neglected, unloved, misunderstood, and have started to look elsewhere for someone that might give you the things your partner doesn’t.
When someone feels like this, it can be fairly easy to start experiencing romantic feelings toward someone else.
Those feelings aren’t necessarily a result of that someone being particularly special, but are just because you’re looking for someone, anyone, to latch onto.
In cases like these, you need to take the focus off the person you’ve developed feelings for and shift it onto your relationship.
3. You’ve got some things you need to work through.
If you’re looking elsewhere, don’t always assume that it’s the relationship you’re in that’s the problem.
It might be that you have some personal issues that mean you find it hard to be in a relationship and might even be trying to self-sabotage.
Maybe you have issues with commitment, or intimacy.
Maybe you expect too much from a partner and start looking elsewhere when your partner is unable to meet your unrealistic expectations.
Take some time to consider whether there might be something in you that you need to work on that’s led to these feelings developing.
Stage three: moving forward.
I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that this situation isn’t sustainable.
After all, if you’re reading this article, the feelings you’re experiencing are probably slightly more than just a passing fancy.
So, it’s time to consider how you’re going to move on from the situation.
If you decide to pursue your feelings.
You may decide that your feelings for this person are real.
I don’t need to tell you this, but you can’t do anything about those feelings whilst you’re still in a relationship.
It might be tempting to look for confirmation from the object of your affections that they reciprocate before you break up with your partner, but that’s not fair on anyone.
You need to end the relationship you’re currently in before you decide to make a move on the person you’re interested in, fully aware that said person might turn you down.
By doing this, you’re recognizing that your feelings for this person are strong enough to break up your relationship.
It might be the start of something wonderful, but you need to be conscious that there’s going to be a lot of heartache involved.
If you decide to stay with your partner.
On the other hand, you might decide that what you’ve got with your partner is special, and you want to stay with them.
In that case, you’ll need to draw a line under your feelings for this person.
It’s your decision whether or not you feel you need to tell your partner about the feelings you’ve been having.
There’s an argument for both courses of action, but it’s ultimately down to you, provided that nothing has happened between you and the person you have feelings for.
If anything has gone on, then you’ll need to be honest with your partner about it.
But if it’s just been feelings on your part, and nothing more, you can decide whether or not to tell your partner.
If you think that they’ve been a result of issues in your relationship, then your partner probably needs to know what you’ve been thinking and feeling so that the two of you can make a conscious decision to work on those issues and move forwards together.
Make sure that you pick the right time to have that conversation, when you’re both well-fed, well-rested, and sober.
Basically, your conscience will always let you know whether this is a conversation that needs to be had.
If you’ve realized that this is a result of some underlying personal issues, then you need to take active steps to work on them, so that this kind of thing doesn’t happen again.
Either way, in an ideal world you would stop having contact with the person you’ve been having feelings for.
Out of sight, out of mind.
After all, if you’re serious about moving forward with your relationship, having contact with this person could make things tricky.
But, of course, we don’t live in an ideal world, so it might be someone you can’t escape. Perhaps someone you work with or see a lot of for any number of reasons.
In that case, you’ll need to have the strength of mind to be able to put your feelings aside.
You can still minimize the amount of time you spend interacting with them and control the nature of those interactions.
There’s no one right answer.
If you’ve found yourself in a situation like this, the key is to be honest with yourself, and make sure you do everything you can to make sure no one gets hurt (more than is necessary).
Situations like these are tricky to navigate, but as long as you’re honest, considerate, and don’t let yourself get carried away by your feelings before you’ve figured out what they really mean, the best course of action should soon become clear.