Engaged with wandering eyes
August 20, 2010 4:41 PM   Subscribe

Engaged but infatuated with someone else. Does this actually mean anything?

I am engaged to my wonderful SO of 5+ years. Things are great. But I have fairly recently become infatuated with another person. I think about them all the time and even have fantasies about us getting together, dating, starting a relationship, doing couple-y things, etc. I cannot really control these thoughts. We flirt mildly, but nothing has happened.

I love my SO and I want to marry them, but are my wandering thoughts a sign of some hidden doubts, reservations, or indications that I'm not ready? Are they red flags or just normal human nature?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (24 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I'm going to vote for this is normal and you'll get over it. You say yourself that you love your SO. However, it's also worth pointing out that this is a very personal question that the internet is never going to be able to answer. You have to decide for yourself if the infatuation means anything (although the fact that you describe it as "infatuation" rather than love suggests to me that you don't believe it means much).
posted by Lobster Garden at 4:46 PM on August 20, 2010

I had a similar experience right before I got married, which I never acted on at all and am incredibly embarrassed about now.

It all felt very "real" and "important" at the time, and I tormented my very understanding friends with long, detailed conversations about the person in question, but in retrospect it clearly had more to do with pre-wedding jitters than anything else. I've now been married to Mr. Narrative for almost three years, and while we have our problems they're the kinds of normal difficulties I expected when we got engaged in the first place.

Unless there's something in your relationship with your fiance that's specifically worrying you, I wouldn't see this infatuation as a red flag. But I WOULD avoid avoid that person as much as possible -- I didn't, in my own version of this, and it made things unnecessarily shitty for Mr. Narrative and I.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 4:52 PM on August 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

Totally normal. Get over it.
posted by The World Famous at 5:00 PM on August 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

Long story short: a girl I know went through this during her engagement but got married anyway. Three months later, they filed for divorce. A year later, she is engaged to the man she was infatuated with during her previous engagement.

If you have any doubts about getting married, don't do it.
posted by PSB at 5:07 PM on August 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

If you love your SO as much as you think you do, the infatuation means nothing. It happens to married people to.
posted by lakerk at 5:20 PM on August 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

If you are fully committed to your SO and want to marry them as you say, then I think this could be perfectly normal.

However, I was just in your situation on your SOs side, my man took the (mutual) infatuation too far, it revealed the cracks in our relationship, and we split.

Concentrate on what you really feel deep down. If you're sure of your relationship, then go ahead and get married and I wouldn't tell your SO about it.

If however this infatuation is causing you to have serious doubts about your future with SO, you owe it to them to talk these doubts out before the situation becomes either emotionally untenable or legally binding.
posted by yellowbinder at 5:35 PM on August 20, 2010

Yes, I think they are red flags and they are also human nature. You have some questions to ask of yourself, some thinking to do. Don't go making any life commitments with other people yet.

I was in this position when I was 24yrs old and had been with my partner for three years. Our wedding date was six months in the future and we were about to move into an apartment together. I had started a new job in TV production and had been there three weeks when one of the editors came back from holidays and strode into the edit suite in his black hand-crafted motorcycle boots. I was gone from that moment. He was in my head. I didn't flirt much and nor did he as we were good people in long term relationships but we both felt the strong mutual attraction.

A couple of months after we began working together I was walking to the bank with my fiancé to get a large sum of savings for the rental deposit on our new apartment. Mr Boots was walking in the other direction on the opposite side of the street. The scene was mesmerising and symbolic and it felt like crunch time. We continued to the bank but over the next half hour fiancé and I quietly broke up in a empty room at work.

Soon after Mr Boots broke up with his girlfriend and he and I had a high-voltage affair for a few months until it fizzled into a friendship. For awhile I felt like I'd lost a good man in fiancé yet deep down I knew that marrying him wasn't the right thing for us. I could have ignored my attraction to Mr Boots but I knew that it was telling me something! something I needed to listen to and contemplate.

And that was that I needed to mature before I made a life-long solid commitment to one person.
posted by Kerasia at 5:36 PM on August 20, 2010 [8 favorites]

Have you told your SO? Whether this is normal or a red flag for impending disaster, this is the kind of thing that you need to discuss before getting married to each other. If you can't talk about this kind of thing (for whatever reason) after being together for 5 years, I suspect marriage is going to be very difficult.
posted by Marty Marx at 5:42 PM on August 20, 2010

But I have fairly recently become infatuated with another person.

Totally normal.

I think about them all the time and even have fantasies about us getting together, dating, starting a relationship, doing couple-y things, etc. I cannot really control these thoughts.

Yes, you can control these thoughts. Try harder. You have emotions and cravings, but if you are a mature and self-aware adult, you should not be a slave to them.

We flirt mildly, but nothing has happened.

Flirting isn't nothing. It might be over the line, it might not be. Only you can be the judge of that. Ask yourself if your SO would tolerate that, and there is your answer.
posted by randomstriker at 6:23 PM on August 20, 2010

I agree that this is totally human nature, not necessarily a red flag, and that you absolutely can control these thoughts. If you are about to marry someone then you need the "love is a verb, not a noun" speech. These sorts of feelings pop up all the time, married or not, but part of being in a long-term, committed relationship is choosing not to fan those flames.

So the real red flag would be if you found yourself totally unwilling to put this infatuation out of your head. That would suggest, not necessarily that you've found some secret soulmate, but that you're not ready for the "work" part of marriage.
posted by EL-O-ESS at 6:53 PM on August 20, 2010

What we have are some folks saying it is a red flag and others saying it is totally normal. You then will have to decide since there is hardly a consensus here on what it portends.
posted by Postroad at 6:58 PM on August 20, 2010

1. Is it mutual? Do not talk yourself into answering this untruthfully. You know.
2. Is there a really, really deep element to it, past “it’s like a movie” and into “it’s like poetry, it’s like once-in-a-lifetime, it’s like a great tragedy” territory: In other words, are we talking rom-com or Shakespearian here? Do not talk yourself into answering this untruthfully. You know.
3. Could you tell your fiancée about it?
4. Could you tell your crush about your feelings concerning your fiancée and trust them to say, “I understand, it’s your decision, and I want you to be happy” or would they try to lead you astray for their own benefit?
5. How much do you really love your fiancée? Dwell on all the sappiest, most loving, most tender moments you’ve had. Those feel real? Does it feel like a kick in the gut to imagine them heartbroken over you? Imagine them crying. Feeling a nauseous, horrible feeling that you never want to feel? Or more of a relief/neutral?
6. If your position was reversed with your fiancée’s, what would you do and how would you feel? What would your fiancée do?
7. When you’re 80 years old, how do you want to look back on this episode in your life?
posted by Nixy at 7:17 PM on August 20, 2010 [9 favorites]

do you want this infatuation to mean something? You say that you cannot really control these thoughts - and that's simply not true. If you want to think of something else, that's what you do. It takes a little bit of work to form the habit, but it's very possible. But it's not really the point.

If you think that having these feelings for someone other than your spouse is a bad sign, I don't necessarily agree. You're going to meet a lot of people while you're married and you will probably have chemistry with at least a few of them. There's nothing wrong with those feelings. It's only what you do about them that can verge into wrong if you've promised monogamy. When I was married, I enjoyed the occasional little crush. I was very careful to keep it way under control, but having that little thrill and excitement when your relationship has settled down to a normal, somewhat mundane day to day routine, it's fun. It doesn't have to be any more than that.
posted by lemniskate at 7:26 PM on August 20, 2010

Hey, being engaged/married doesn't mean that you can't find anyone else attractive. Sometimes it's okay to just think "holey moley, that person is a total babe" without it meaning that you have to breakup with your SO and pursue.
posted by beepbeepboopboop at 7:45 PM on August 20, 2010

Looking but not touching is a common marriage allowance. You sound more nervous than anything else. You say you want to marry an SO of more than 5 years; so why the new crush? I'm guessing it's just nerves.
posted by Gilbert at 8:58 PM on August 20, 2010

Read up on limerence. It still strikes even when you're in a committed relationship. It'll go away eventually, so don't say anything and for goodness sake don't act on it.
posted by Jacqueline at 9:05 PM on August 20, 2010

if{wedding date is set}
This sounds perfectly normal, and happens all. the. time. You can avoid the subject of your infatuation and let your feelings slowly fade away. The away time can also give you a chance to answer the excellent questions Nixy asked (especially 2,3 and 5).

Depending on your relationship, try to talk to your fiance, very very gently, about how to handle crushes and infatuations.

Now is about a week past the time to talk to your fiance about crushes and infatuations. Tell your fiance about your feelings, emphasizing how this infatuation does not change how much you love them and how excited you are to marry them. Airing out the wandering eye makes it easier to deal with. This will also give you guys a chance to put in place policies, and define where the line not to be crossed is. Assumptions have no place in this.
posted by copperbleu at 11:13 PM on August 20, 2010

If my wife was temporarily infatuated with someone else, I don't really want to know. If she actually wants to get involved with them, yes, we need to talk about that (and, realistically, probably go our separate ways). But I don't own her--or her brain, more to the point--and have no right or need to know if she's having a one-sided mental dalliance with someone else.
posted by maxwelton at 1:20 AM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

You're getting a lot of conflicting answers here....and I think that's because the answer really depends on your outlook about relationships in general. If you have an expectation that the initial infatuation you feel at the beginning is something that should last throughout the life of the relationship, AND/OR if you have any tendency "hooked" on that feeling, it can cause you to become dissatisfied your fiancee, and yes that is a problem.

Like others have said, crushes and infatuations are part of being human. They never go away. What changes is your perspective about them. If you can look at this flirtation as a passing thing, and enjoy it, but appreciate your fiancee more because you have a history and a deep commitment to each other, then you will be fine. If you're at a stage in your life where you're not ready for the "rough stuff" of relationships and want fun and excitement, then you're probably headed for trouble.
posted by cottonswab at 6:01 AM on August 21, 2010

The only thing I would say is that if you do decide that your SO is the one and you want to marry them, then stay away from the other person, don't create trouble for no good reason. Sure it's OK to be infatuated with someone else, but if you keep flirting with them it will be harder to say no if they ever do make a move. So just don't put yourself in that situation, it's not worth it.
posted by KateHasQuestions at 8:09 AM on August 21, 2010

I would say it's normal and get over it, but your lack of pronouns throws in a bit of a loop.
If the person you are infatuated with is of a gender that is different from the gender of your fiance, then I would pay more attention to your infatuation.
posted by whalebreath at 9:12 PM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

Had similar experiences both before and after being married to my husband of 9 years. Infatuation is just that and it's normal. I was surprised how quickly those feelings of irresistible attraction actually faded when at the time I didn't think they would. Don't stress and give it time. Real love isn't as shiny as new infatuation, but it's significantly more rewarding.
posted by threeturtles at 11:09 PM on August 21, 2010

It's a problem if it's displacing your feelings for your fiance; for example, if you're spending time/energy on this crush and the way you behave towards your fiance changes due to it or if you find that you're less interested in your fiance or less inclined to want to do things with him.

Personally, I would be really concerned if this happened to me because I don't usually get infatuated with people unless I do really, actually want them or unless something is wrong in my current relationship. This isn't the case with everyone, though, and apparently lots of people are capable of crushing on others without it meaning anything to their relationship at all. It mostly comes down to you.
posted by Polychrome at 3:45 AM on August 22, 2010

Honestly, it doesn't matter if it's normal or not.

You're experiencing it and it's bothering you enough to post an anonymous question on the internet.

That suggests it's something you should talk to your fiance about. It doesn't need to be a super dramatic, sad moment. You could just bring it up nonchalantly, like "Dude, I don't know what's going on, but all of the sudden, I'm thinking of this guy. Weird huh?" Treat it like it's not a big deal, but please please please get it out there.

I was you a few years ago. My marriage ended after two years. I sometimes wonder if I would still be married if we'd had the kind of relationship where I could talk about what I was feeling.
posted by missjenny at 10:30 AM on August 23, 2010

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