Let’s start with the obvious—relationships aren’t easy. Once you find someone you really like, it feels amazing to give your all to them. But what happens when you catch yourself checking out that hottie in line at the supermarket? What about old feelings resurfacing for an ex hook-up? We all have crushes, but what’s okay and what isn’t when it comes to relationships? We’ve talked to collegiettes with experience to give you the low down on whether it’s normal to have crushes while you’re in a serious relationship.
In short: Yes!
It’s totally normal to have crushes while in a relationship. Just because you’re devoted to someone doesn’t mean you aren’t going to find other people attractive or charismatic. As long as you’re fully committed to your SO, there shouldn’t be a problem. Ariana Annuziato, a junior at Drexel University, has been in two serious relationships, which lasted nearly two years each. “While I was in these relationships, I definitely found myself crushing on people who were not my SO at the time,” she says. “Generally, these crushes are harmless and natural. I think it’s only human nature to be flattered by a little extra attention, especially when you usually only receive it from one person over a long period of time. It’s nice to know that you still have game.” While crushing on someone is okay, you definitely don’t want to take it farther than that. Read on for what you should ask yourself when these crushes come up.
Is it someone you already had a crush on?
If you’ve had a long-time crush on someone and know nothing would ever happen, you shouldn’t be worried. But if you’re in a serious relationship and find yourself wanting other people in your life, that may be a red flag. “I think that in some way we will all have a crush on someone else while in a relationship and probably that crush is for someone that we knew about before being in the relationship,” says Yarilix Santos, a senior at Albizu University. “A crush for me is someone that in some way or another wasn’t meant to be with you or nothing happened,” she says. “But if you while in a relationship develop a crush or more, then it’s time to think if you are really into your SO.” She’s totally right! If you’re crushing on someone you know you’d never be with, like a “friend crush” or someone you wouldn’t actually speak to, what’s the harm? Issues start to come up if you’re imagining yourself being with someone else.
Are you pursuing this person?
If you find yourself flirting with your crush and trying to spend time with them, it’s probably a bad sign. Your SO should be the person you want to be with and have there to support you. If you find yourself trying to befriend your crush, you could be entering dangerous territory. “If you are crushing on the cutie in your English class it’s no big deal so long as you only make googly eyes and then never see him/her again once the semester is over,” Ariana says. “But if you strike up a friendship with the person, you can expect there to be trouble in paradise when your SO catches on.” Ashley Ortiz, a sophomore at the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras, agrees. “In my experience, I've had platonic crushes while in a relationship but I've never done anything since I knew they were nothing serious,” she says. “I think it's okay to eye the menu, but ‘don't order a steak, chicken or salmon if you've already ordered a filet mignon.’ That's what I always tell myself and my friends.” As long as you keep your crushing to your imagination, you shouldn’t run into trouble. If you find yourself pursuing the person, it may be time to rethink the relationship you’re in.
Are you on the same page as your SO?
The most important part of relationships is communication. If you’ve talked to your SO about having crushes and both acknowledge that it’s completely natural, you’ll feel a lot better and things will go smoothly. “My girlfriend and I have been together for seven years and agree it’s perfectly fine to have crushes,” says Amy*, a senior at Emerson College. “We're both completely monogamous, and we have no interest in pursuing relationships outside ours. I think it all depends on what you identify as a crush. If I think someone's attractive, physically and emotionally, I consider that a little crush—and I think they are harmless and even healthy.” Once you’re on the same page as your SO, you won’t worry when you find yourself staring at someone on the streets. If you want to bring this up casually without freaking out your SO, you could say something like, “Who’s your celebrity crush?” When they tell you, tell them yours and say something like, “Isn’t it great we can have silly crushes and still be devoted to each other?” This will allow you to see how they feel about it and get things off your chest.
While relationships should focus on the two people in them, having crushes is inevitable. As long as you’re devoted to your SO and aren’t actively pursuing someone else, there’s no reason to feel ashamed! Just remember to be open and let your partner know if you think it’s more than a crush—that’s when dangerous territory can come up. Happy crushing, collegiettes!
*Name has been changed