Oh oh! At first glance the obvious answer is no. You’ve met the love of your life, settled down and have committed yourself to a life of monogamy… so why do you find yourself constantly thinking about Eamon from accounts, or Jennifer from the gym?
A crush or an infatuation is an absorbing passion for someone. It means you think about him or her all the time and imagine what it would be like if you were together. Because it is all in your head, this alternate life is blissful. But that’s only because you never get to find out that Eamon is useless at helping out around the house, leaves his dirty socks everywhere and is way too fond of World of Warcraft; or that Jennifer snores really loudly, takes hours to get ready, and talks during films.
Most crushes are based on unrealistic expectations and sometimes the object of your affections has no idea you have any feelings towards them. If your crush is a celebrity they might not even be aware you exist, even if they did retweet something you wrote that one time.
Crushes are not all bad. Many successful relationships start with a crush, but only if you learn to revise your expectations so that they are more realistic. Yup, Eamon is a domestic sock terror, but great with kids; and Jennifer may talk during films, but she’s also a great listener. After all, most of us are a little bit infatuated with our partners. It only becomes unhealthy if you idealise a person so much that love becomes impossible, as the real-life person will never be able to match up to your fantasy of them.
Most people stop becoming seriously infatuated as they get older — we wise up. Even if you are in a happy long-term relationship it is possible to find yourself drawn to another person. It’s completely normal — that’s just human nature. The big question is what do you do about it. The short answer of course, is nothing.
If you are already in a relationship, the important thing to remember is that most infatuations don’t last very long. If you want your relationship to work, don’t act on a crush. You already know this, but if your relationship is going through a tough patch, giving in to temptation may seem a good idea. It almost never is.
Social media has made it possible to get back in touch with old flames or people you fancied when you were young and fancy-free. Touching base is not necessarily wrong, but if you find yourself messaging someone everyday and even making plans to meet, you are on a dangerous, slippery slope that could lead to infidelity. A good rule of thumb is to consider how you would feel if your partner was engaging in the same behaviour. If it would upset you, chances are it will upset them.
Work can be another source of temptation. Many of us work long hours and spend more time every day with colleagues than with our partners. Some people have a “work wife” or “work husband” — a colleague that they work closely with who is also a good friend. For the most part these relationships are harmless, but if you find your feelings are becoming more than friendly, you need to reign them in, and, if possible, minimise contact with the person. If they return your feelings you are risking infidelity, and possibly your family life, for what is most likely a temporary obsession.
A crush can be caused because we subconsciously feel inferior to the person we admire; we may have difficulties at home or work and daydream about starting a new life; or we might be bored sexually with our partner. You might feel guilty about having a crush but For the most part it is just a passing fancy, and as long as you never act on it, a crush doesn’t mean you don’t love your partner as much — or more — as the day you got married.
One last thing: while honesty is generally the best policy for relationships, keeping a crush to yourself is wise. Think of it as similar to the sexual fantasies many of us use with our partners. As long as your partner doesn’t know you are thinking about Ryan Gosling or Mila Kunis, it doesn’t matter. One day, probably in the near future, the scales will fall from your eyes and you’ll realise that your crush is a flawed human being — probably very flawed! Yes, your partner is a flawed human being too, but you love him or her. And love, well, that’s so much better than a crush.