Uh oh. You’re in a long-term relationship but now have feelings for someone else.
What should you do?
We all have the best intentions. We strive to “be good” and “do what’s right.”
But every one of us falls short at various points throughout our lives.
Because the brutal and beautiful truth is that personal perfection is a myth.
Having feelings for someone who’s not your partner is a standard stumbling block — and that’s what we’re unpacking today.
What Does it Mean To Have Feelings for Someone?
“Having feelings” is a broad term that means different things to different people, but most definitions include an element of romantic interest.
We don’t have feelings for people we see as pals.
It’s a term reserved for folks that make our hearts pitter and our stomachs patter.
When you have feelings for someone, you may:
- Think about them day and night
- Manipulate situations to be around them
- Spend a lot of time checking out their social media
- Get flustered around them
- Make stupid decisions regarding your interactions with them
- Treat them poorly in an exaggerated effort to hide your true feelings
Is It Normal To Have Feelings for Someone Else While in a Relationship?
While it’s usually not great to have feelings for someone else while in a committed relationship, it’s also very common.
Humans can’t shut off their eyes, ears, and emotions when they start a relationship.
We don’t have a magic switch that modulates attraction.
But some lines shouldn’t be crossed, including:
- Hand-holding / cuddling
- Emotional intimacy to a heated degree
Crossing these “relationship Rubicons” can ruin the union.
9 Must-Do Actions If You’re in a Long-Term Relationship But Have Feelings For Someone Else
It’s happened. You’ve caught feelings for someone that’s not your partner.
Now what? How should you handle the situation? What should you do? Does Goop have a potion for “feeling eradication?”
Unfortunately, silver-bullet solutions aren’t available.
But we’ve outlined a few tips below that will help you figure out what to do.
1. Get Sober and Sleep on It
You’d be surprised at the number of people who get wasted, decide they have feelings for someone while swimming in spiked emotional soup, and blow up their actual relationship.
Don’t let that be your story. Avoid it by never making decisions without the support of a sober mind.
Also, sleep on it — for a week. Sometimes, people pop into our lives, and we’re initially attracted. But it quickly fades once they say more, and you’re horrified by what comes out.
2. Journal About It
Fascinatingly, study after study shows that journaling does wonders for cognitive function, enhances emotional management, and improves mental health.
So if you’re struggling with feelings for someone other than your significant other, break out a pen and paper. Pour your feelings onto the page. You can type instead of write, but research shows that people who do it the old-fashion way enjoy more benefits.
3. Meditate on It
Meditating is more than just new-age claptrap. Double-blind, peer-reviewed studies show that committed practice improves brain functionality and ultimately illuminates life more clearly.
So before you bust up a good thing, meditate on your situation. Let the confusing thoughts swirl around your head. Notice them. Don’t judge them. If your mind wanders off, gently return it to the topic at hand.
Pay attention to the insights and ideas that spontaneously pop into your mind. Do they make sense? How do they hit? Dissect everything, and you may find the wisdom you seek.
4. Get Moving
It’s annoying to hear if you’re not active, but it’s true: Exercising boosts brain health.
Plus, it optimizes the chemicals torpedoing through the nervous system. Did we mention it’s also an incredible stress reliever?
So if you have something weighing on your mind, get your body moving and the heart pumping. Afterward, you’ll be in a better headspace to think clearly about the situation at hand.
5. Chat With Your Closest Friend
What are close friends for if not to share your deepest, darkest skeletons — and get nothing but unconditional love and a sympathetic ear in return?
If you have a boyfriend but like someone else, confide in your ride-or-die bestie. They won’t judge and will likely be full of wise advice. Plus, they know your situation well and have the contextual facts to help you navigate your feelings.
6. Walk it Through to its Logical Conclusion
Romance is a mesmerizing, elusive, and powerful force. It swirls, dips, and wafts all around, causing maximum confusion and muddled thinking. Though ethereal, it’s powerful, and you’ll need a strong logic muscle to corral it.
The best way to approach the situation is to sit down and plot out the logistics of what would happen if you were to pursue your feelings. Map out several possibilities, and try to be realistic.
This exercise may help you realize that your feelings are nothing more than a passing fancy without real potential. If the opposite is true, you may have lots to ponder.
7. Figure Out Why You’re Having These Feelings
Why are these feelings arising? Is something missing in your primary relationship? What about you? Are you unfulfilled? If so, why?
Take a personal inventory of where you are and where you’re headed. Don’t neglect to assess your emotions and mental health. Is there something you can change that will improve your well-being and help you choose the best path?
8. Don’t Beat Yourself Up (It’s Normal)
Sure, burgeoning romantic feelings for someone who isn’t your committed, long-term partner isn’t ideal.
At the same time, it’s perfectly normal. Hormones occasionally go rogue, and we find ourselves attracted to people who aren’t “our person.”
So don’t beat yourself up if it happens to you. It doesn’t mean you’re an evil, cheating harlot or gigolo. It means you’re an adult with eyes and emotions.
9. Limit Contact With Your Crush
Is whatever you’re feeling more than a passing phase? Has the other person expressed interest in you? Have you already crossed a line?
If yes is the answer to any of these questions, and you’re still unsure of your next move, limit contact with your crush.
Making space gives you time to think. It’s also a test. Are you dealing with an out-of-sight, out-of-mind situation? Or is your heart growing fonder on account of the absence? The answer may help you plot your trajectory.
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6 Essential Questions To Ask Yourself When You Start Catching Feelings for Someone
Sometimes, it’s valuable to chat with the voices in your head! To wit, when you have feelings for someone other than your partner, asking yourself a few questions is wise. But the key is to avoid lying to yourself.
Let’s check out several questions you should ponder when caught between a long-term relationship and a potential new love interest.
1. Is it just physical attraction or something deeper?
Mistaking physical attraction for something deeper is a common curse under which nearly everyone falls at some point in their life.
So if butterflies have occupied your gut and googly-eyed would accurately describe your current demeanor, push through the attraction and think long and hard about the person.
Do you even know them that well? Do you have anything in common?
2. Is this person appropriate?
You’re right. The head can’t always control what the heart wants. Sometimes, it’s impossible to dictate with whom we fall in love.
That said, do your best to think clearly and rationally about the object of your new affection. Is this person your boss? Colleague? Patient? Client?
If you risk losing your job for getting cozy, weigh the potential impact.
Another pool of people you don’t want to mess with is other parents. Think about it: Do you want to be the Hester Prynne of Harper Valley’s PTA?
3. What will you lose by leaving your current relationship?
You’ve been dating your partner for a while, but you’re not engaged. And truth be told, you’re unsure if your current SO is “the one.”
In these situations, the glaring question becomes: Is breaking up better for me?
Is my attraction to this other person a sign that I’m supposed to leave this one?
Consider what you’ll sacrifice by leaving your current partnership. If this list amounts to very little, who knows, it may be time to move on.
4. What else is happening in my life that could distort my perspective?
What’s going on in your life? Is work tumultuous? What about relationships with friends and family? Are you weathering a formidable financial storm? Have you received unfortunate medical news?
Life is full of stress, and getting walloped by its force can skew perceptions and trigger questionable behavior.
So take a step back and think about what else is weighing on your conscience that may distort your thoughts and emotional balance.
5. What can I do to improve my current relationship?
Are your eyes starting to wander because your current relationship is on life support? Is it a normal phase change because you’ve been together for a long time, or is something else snuffing out the spark?
Consider if you can do anything to improve the current relationship, with the goal of staying focused on and committed to your current partner.
6. How will it impact my life to pursue this person? Who could it hurt?
Will pursuing your extracurricular emotions impact anybody else’s life? Are there spouses to consider? Children? Highly protective pets?
This should not be a passing thought. Regret, shame, and guilt are powerful forces that can stay with you for the long haul. Is this person worth the psychological fallout?
Is it Considered Cheating if You Have Feelings for Someone Else?
Every couple has its own set of rules. For some, crushes are frowned upon. For others, they’re an enjoyable game. Most, however, wouldn’t consider crushing on someone a cheating-level offense.
But when people “have feelings,” it’s usually something more serious. Feelings connote something more developed that could blossom into physical or emotional intimacy.
Subsequently, most people consider it a form of infidelity. Though it’s not as damaging as going through with the act, it should be acknowledged and addressed.
What To Do if You’re Developing Feelings for Someone and Want to Pursue Them
You’re not married, and you’ve fallen for someone else.
First off, you’re not a demon. It happens all the time and is perfectly normal. If it weren’t, everyone would marry the first person they date.
But now the question becomes: What should you do? How should you handle the situation? Here are a few tips:
- If you don’t live together and have no serious ties, break it off cleanly, kindly, and respectfully with your current partner. Breaking up by text is not acceptable in these situations.
- If you live together and logistics must be worked out, first secure a place to stay for a couple of weeks. Once that’s done, have the conversation. In the wake of the breakup, when you’re figuring out new living arrangements with your ex, you should be the one to stay outside of the shared home.
- Let grace and compassion be your guides. Also, remind yourself that your partner is allowed to get upset. Abuse is never okay, but they have every right to raise their voice and express dismay with you and the situation.
- Prepare yourself for the possibility that it won’t work out with the new person.
Love and attraction are ethereal forces that scoff in the face of logic. Nobody has all the answers — not even us.
So while we hope our advice helped you gain some situational insight, you should also talk things through with someone who knows and loves you.
Good luck wrangling your love life! May Cupid’s force be with you.