Having a crush while married? Be cautious
You see him/her and you cannot concentrate for a while. The person gives you butterflies and makes your heart race. The feelings are overpowering and you can’t think straight. Virtually, nothing surpasses the heady, all-consuming rush of a crush. And if you are in a committed monogamous relationship, chances are those thrilling feelings of attraction and curiosity come with guilt.
This was the case for Kelvin Riungu, when he met a woman in the line of duty at a local bank. Previously, he had crushes on other women, but he never got the courage to approach them.
“A crush is something normal. I mean it’s what spells out how human we are. So, you just can’t control it when it comes,” he says.
He approached her and frequently engaged her in hearty conversations, but being a married man, he never suggested anything that would jeopardise his marriage.
Need for control
His wife got to know about his chit chats with his crush and this brewed trouble in the home. But he couldn’t cut off his crush completely, because they worked together.
And so we ask, does a harmless crush exist? What are the boundaries on having a crush while in a committed relationship? Immaculate Mogeni, a psychologist, says having a crush can be completely normal…but there is a but. “How you go about making it not come in between your marriage becomes the only difference between it being declared cheating and it being a crush. Although it may sound absurd you just need to learn to control it,” she says.
In most cases, you may find that you could just be having a crush, but your partner may misinterpret the whole situation. “Although some may have a slightly different definition of what qualifies as emotional infidelity, most people seem to believe that cheating involves sexual or physical betrayal. But emotional betrayal is incredibly painful for the partner who has been cheated on,” she says.
According to Mogeni, what often gets lost in the discussion of infidelity is attention to emotional infidelity and the ugly ways in which it can plant seeds of doubt and dismantle a relationship.
However, Piet Evert Van Altena, a sexologist and relationship coach, says a crush is an informal feeling of love and admiration for someone, often someone you know you cannot have a relationship with. It may have nothing to do with happiness in your committed relationship.
Stepping over the line
Just because you are married, you won’t stop noticing or feeling attraction toward others, as those feelings are automatic and frankly beyond our control. “For instance, you can have a crush on someone you have never met in real life or a person you may never meet, like a celebrity. In that case, it becomes harmless,” he says.
Experts say having a crush can make us feel sexy and beautiful, and can inspire us to enhance our self-care, which in turn makes us feel more appealing. Sometimes, crushes serve the purpose of enlivening an otherwise committed, devoted domestic life.
“In most cases, it can be experienced without informing the other person, but when you do, it opens the doors of stepping over the line. If you develop a crush and let them know, then it becomes harmful because you would be subjecting yourself to emotional infidelity,” he says.
A crush is probably not okay if it is indicative of something you’re lacking in your current relationship (for example, if you are using your crush to get attention that you are not getting from your partner). Also if it feels like escapism from your current situation or if you are fantasising about your crush every time you’re getting intimate with your partner. Sometimes, these persistent infatuations are rooted in unmet needs: They could also be a forceful combination of the unconscious wishes and desires we have neglected.
Accorting to Piet emotional infidelity starts innocently as a friendship, through investing emotional energy and time with another person outside the marital relationship— the former platonic relationship automatically begins to form a strong emotional bond, which hurts the intimacy of the spouse relationship. “A crush is not an excuse or an invitation to cross the line behind your significant other’s back,” he says.
Navigating this tricky situation while in a committed relationship, experts say, is dependent on the situation, the nature of your relationship, and the standards you and your partner hold each other to.