Illustration by Maxine Crump.

Illustration by Maxine Crump.

Hey there Rookie! I noticed you have a lot of articles on what to do when you’re crushin’ on someone, but no articles on what to do if you’re crushing on someone while you’re still in a relationship! Recently I met this guy and we like all the same things and I really love spending time with him. I’m also in a committed relationship though. I really love my partner, but the honeymoon phase is over, so I don’t have that crazy “new relationship” feeling anymore. This other boy is making my heart do twists and turns! I’m lovestruck and confused! Help! —Confuzzled Heart

Hi, Confuzzled Heart. Sounds like you’re dealing with some complex, conflicting love feelings. No wonder you’re feeling bit at sea! Crushin’ on someone when you’re in a relationship, however, is pretty normal—we all know how good those first butterflies for a new someone can feel, and how hard they are to ignore. Try not to be too hard on yourself about these feelings and Instead, give yourself some time to figure out how serious they are and what you want to do about them. I know it sucks to feel confused, but know that it’s a sign that you are thinking and loving deeply. Maybe in a few weeks, this crush will pass on its own, or maybe your feelings will deepen. This is also a good occasion to figure out what you want from your current relationship!

Even if there wasn’t a new crush in your life, periodically checking in with your general happiness and relationship satisfaction is a good habit to cultivate. I’ve been in a long-term (sometimes long-distance) relationship for three years, and I often reflect on how things are going: Am I feeling happy and fulfilled? If not, how can I communicate that to my partner? Am I doing my part in supporting their needs? Figuring these things out as you go along is a lot less stressful than having to confront them all at once when something big changes in your relationship.

Here are some more questions you might ask yourself when trying to figure out your feelings:

  • Do you mostly enjoy being in a relationship? Or are there times when it feels like you are staying put (out of love or obligation), even though you don’t want to be tied to someone right now or you aren’t happy?
  • Do you think you are developing real, deep feelings for a new person, or is it just a fun, flirty situation that might pass?
  • Would you want to be in a relationship with the source of these butterflies? If you were just friends, would that be enough?
  • Do you feel like monogamy is the right choice for you? Do you sometimes wish that you could be free to hang with a crush without feeling guilty about possibly hurting your significant other?

The important thing is to be honest with yourself about what the ideal outcome of these confused feelings might be. Do you wish you could ignore this blossoming crush and keep lovin’ your BF? That’s totally possible, but it probably means you shouldn’t be spending tons of time with this new dude, to give yourself a chance to get over the heart swells. Do you want to be single now, so you can see how the crush plays out? Then you need to have an honest conversation with your BF about ending things on good terms. Or (maybe!) this is a bigger issue about the kind of relationship you’d like to be in. Take a look at Amy Rose’s comprehensive piece on non-monogamy and open relationships, and see if that’s somewhere you might see your love life heading.

Try not to be too hard on yourself over this crush, Confuzzled Heart. Maybe you can’t control these fresh, mushy feelings, but you do have control over what you do about them! Whatever you decide, take some pressure off yourself by remembering that you can only do what feels right for now, and that the future will just have to take care of itself. Treat the cuties involved with respect and care—and extend that same fairness and kindness to yourself! ♦

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