Although you’re happily married, you can’t help but fixate on your roommate every time she comes to work. You get along phenomenally, you share confidences and beers, and you admit it, you like it a little. You enjoy her company, you think about her quite a bit when you’re away from work, and sometimes you even allow yourself to flirt a bit. But it would never occur to you to cheat on your wife.
Still, you feel guilty about those feelings you can’t help. How normal are they?
Most of the world believes that these ‘crushes’ (‘crushes’, as it is also now called) are the stuff of teenagers, a clumsy first attempt to understand sexuality that is flourishing. Psychologists, however, will tell you something quite different, and you may be relieved: according to Lucia O’Sullivan of the University of New Brunswick in Canada, any adult can fall in love (even when in a relationship that works), reports Psychology Today.
Having a ‘crush’ would mean a one-sided attraction to another person about whom we have no real intention of communicating.
Let’s clarify: the ‘crush’ would be a unilateral attraction to another person about whom we have no real intention of communicating. Something like Petrarch with Laura, if we lived in another time before the coronavirus. In this way, platonic infatuations are distinguished from another type of romantic attraction ranging from mutual infatuation to attachment.
Previous research has shown that crushes of this type are quite common among teens, and occur before they start dating or have their first romantic relationship. Therefore, they are considered an early step in the development of skills related to intimacy. In other words, teens often experience their first romantic attractions this way because they don’t yet know how to act on their own feelings.
But at the same time, much research ensures that adults who have relationships also experience attraction to other people (who are obviously not their partner). In other words, they may fantasize about others even though they deeply love their partner. They may even casually flirt with their crushes, even though they have no intention of letting it go beyond that.
Those with a partner who also tend to have casual crushes seem to be happier and sometimes this can even strengthen their relationship.
Something else, about a study conducted by O’Sullivan and colleagues: people in relationships seem to have more crushes than single women. It may seem like an unexpected finding, but it makes sense: singles are more likely to act and don’t let feelings get stuck in the scenario of unrequited love. Those who already have a partner, however, refrain from expressing them to preserve their relationship. Anyway, do not be afraid, because respondents with a partner who also had casual crushes seem to be happier, and sometimes this even, as surprising as it sounds, strengthens their relationship.
The negative, as it could not be otherwise, comes from feelings of guilt. Either way, the researchers found that there are actually few people in relationships who actually intend to fulfill those fantasies with their crushes. In the end, we have to think that it is in our nature to be attracted to other people.
Sometimes we are attracted to people with whom we can never have a relationship.
In short, infatuation can help. Sometimes they are proof of whether our relationship is truly strong or there are problems in it. Feelings of attraction lead us to get closer to potential partners, but sometimes we are attracted to people with whom we can never have a relationship. Research shows that it takes both the availability of other attractions and deep dissatisfaction with the current relationship to lead a person to be unfaithful to their partner, so don’t feel very guilty either if you see your eyes irretrievably wandering to another part of the office.
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