So you find yourself biting your knuckle when she walks by. You catch yourself stammering hello when you run into him in the elevator. What do you do when you are strongly attracted to someone new?
It happens to the best of us. There are obviously more people on the planet than the one we are wedded to that rings our bell. The question is if the attraction is purely physical (and you just want to shag them), or if the attraction is more than that. I’ve said it before, I’m far, far more concerned about who my sweetie is having coffee with then if he ever had a one night stand.
So what do you do? If it’s about the sex then as a sex therapist it’s telling me that you need some more sexual adventure in your life. Have an affair with your partner. Meet them in a seedy motel room. Set up a fantasy role play. Go see some burlesque. Re-create that newness.
Being involved with another person exclusively can be tough. It puts a lot of pressure on both partners to “complete” the other. It also puts a lot of demands on one’s unwavering focus. And that, quite simply, is unrealistic. There’s nothing wrong with finding other people attractive or knowing that others find your partner attractive.
The problems happen when we become emotionally involved with someone else. They become a friend, become all we think about. They are the person we pour our hearts out to instead of our partners. That’s the sign that something may be missing in your partnership and it’s time you backed away from temptation. One of the key things you can do is to keep the fantasy in your head.
Relationships are hard. And, after we’ve been with someone for a while we tend to define ourselves by how that person sees us. But that’s a dangerous game. What if your partner has a bad day and lashes out by being unkind to you about how you look or things you do or don’t do? You might internalize those unkind words and start feeling badly about yourself. Well don’t. Remember you are who you are. Not who you partner sees you as. And you can use the outside world as a reminder of that. Remember that other people think you’re funny and smart and attractive. You don’t need your partner to always do the reminding.
Finally if you are still struggling it’s time to get help. Most therapists who are worth their salt can help you focus on solutions and help you navigate these difficult times. I see patients by skype all over the world and this is a common issue. My belief is that when you get someone else to mediate you are far more likely to take the results seriously. Send me a note firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll send you my audio about safe flirting and rules of engagement on being a hot and connected partner.