Attraction concerns.
July 13, 2005 3:35 AM   Subscribe

I have just started to be attracted to a friend I never had feelings for before, in an insidious and subconscious way. But my girlfriend and I are living together, and she's pushing hard for marriage.

I haven't done *anything* with this friend beyond chatting, though it's clear that she's attracted to me as well. She is single and available, and smart and interesting and fun as well as pretty, and I think we could have had a great time together if I weren't already committed so deeply. Sometimes (during the down times with my girlfriend) I wonder if I wouldn't be happier with her -- but I don't know since I haven't spent much time with her. In the past few weeks, I've had several moments where a vivid picture of her would pop into my head uninvited, distracting me totally from what I was doing. Once, this happened during an intimate moment with my girlfriend, and I suddenly lost all of my affection for my girlfriend and felt horrible.

My girlfriend and I are in an okay phase of our relationship, but could be better. We've had ups and downs in the 3 months since we moved in together; it was really hard at first, though we have been getting better in the last couple of weeks. She is older than me, and has had many more relationships; she is only my second (and the first who wasn't crazy), so I really don't know what different relationships could be like. There are many things I love about our relationship, and a few things that scare me, but the thing I am most afraid of is being unhappy in the future because I was pressed into marrying her even though I was attracted to another.

Is this new attraction a warning sign for our relationship, a sign that I'm not with the right person? Or is it the kind of thing that everybody has and gets through? Should I break off contact with the friend I'm attracted to, or would that only make it worse? How could I possibly begin to talk about this or work this through with my girlfriend? I've never felt an attraction like this before, and I've certainly never had a chance to follow through on one, so I'm at a loss on what to do.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (23 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I've never felt an attraction like this before, and I've certainly never had a chance to follow through on one, so I'm at a loss on what to do.

Whatever you do, DON'T marry the girl that you're living with. In fact, you need to break up with her and move out. She's not the one, buddy.

As for the new girl, it's bad timing. And who knows what goes on in her mind. Try to keep her interested while you cut and run with your present girlfriend. Even though I need to stress that it's a long shot. Remember, regardless of where that relationship goes, you need to end your present one. And it's highly inappropriate to try and date one girl while you're living with another. Don't be self-centered like that.
posted by Mayor Curley at 3:58 AM on July 13, 2005

Is this new attraction a warning sign for our relationship, a sign that I'm not with the right person?

Could be and MC may have nailed it. It could also be that living with someone for the first time and considering marriage has been overwhelming for you (especially since this is only your second relationship), and you subconsciously think that it would be easier to start over than go through the process of learning all the new things that come with cohabitation and so on.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 4:17 AM on July 13, 2005

Yes, it's a warning sign.
You might not even be attracted to her that much, or enough to pursue a relationship, once you find yourself free. It could very well be your subconscious giving you another reason to leave. If this is your second relationship, the first wasn't much to speak of (she was 'crazy'), and you're being pressured for marriage, I think it's time to get out. At the very least slow down.
Trust me, getting married is a lot easier than getting divorced. Better to wait and be sure than rush when you have even a single doubt.
posted by Kellydamnit at 4:29 AM on July 13, 2005

MC nailed it. You definitely should not be living together. Everyone gets twitches, but don't per her (or yourself) through the doubt you're experiencing now...

A couple of other points. It's important for your current girlfriend to realize and understand everything about this and why you're leaving, if not the details of the fact you found another girl you're interested in. Secondly, it's not necessarily impossible for you to not have both your current girlfriend and this girl, but it sounds like from your post you're definitely not polyamorous and this isn't the right time to start a triad of any kind. So yes. I think you should move out with your girlfriend, say that you have a lot of doubts and still need some time to think this over, if not end the relationship already, and then go explore things with other people. If your current girlfriend really loves you and she's the one, this won't be the end of the world. If she's not...
posted by arimathea at 5:00 AM on July 13, 2005

Is this new attraction a warning sign for our relationship, a sign that I'm not with the right person?

The only thing I think it's a sign of is that you haven't had enough experience with relationships. You clearly aren't sure about what you want in a mate, so it sounds to me like the marriage idea is definitely out. I think you should be honest with your current girlfriend - tell her that you want to experience other relationships before you permanently settle down. From there you can work out whether that means breaking up and moving out or not...
posted by geeky at 5:42 AM on July 13, 2005

Well, I certainly don't think you're ready for marriage. If you were, this wouldn't be an issue. Everyone gets attracted to people. But it really doesn't matter if I'm attracted to someone . I'm married to my wife; I love my wide; I'm committed to her. And I'm happy about that commitment. In a way, the commitment is an object itself, separate from my wife, which I am devoted to. Which is why attraction to other people doesn't matter. I can feel it, fantasize about it, whatever. It changes nothing. And I knew this would be the case when I got married. Which is what made me aware I was ready for marriage.
posted by grumblebee at 5:49 AM on July 13, 2005 [1 favorite]

Who knows whether the current one is the right one. Only time will tell. Don't rush things. I think the new woman is at the very least a sign of your discomfort with some of the pressure you are getting from the current woman. Only you can answer these questions. Take your time and look in your heart. Also, make sure you are not making decisions about the current woman because you are afraid of being alone.
posted by caddis at 6:13 AM on July 13, 2005

I think it's natural to have passing superficial attractions for other people even while being in a long-term relationship. In itself it's not a problem if the relationship is good enough. What is a problem is when you feel pressured into some major step like marriage. That itself, rather than the attraction for the other person, is a warning sign. Your fear of being unhappy in the future being stuck into something you were not sure of, something you describe as being pushed hard on you. Pressured, pushed, unhappy, fear, losing all affection, feeling horrible, those are strong words you picked (sorry, don't mean to do any armchair psychoanalysis, just an observation! obviously you're the only one who knows best here). You wouldn't feel like that if marriage was what you wanted too, so, the attraction for the other person doesn't seem to be the source of that feeling of constraint; sounds more like an outlet for it.

You have to be honest about this stuff to yourself and to your partner. It doesn't necessarily mean you want to break up, don't rush any decision one way or the other, and don't talk to your girlfriend about it while you're still confused, first you need to get a clearer idea yourself. Just try and take some time to realise what you want and how you see things evolving in your current relationship, by separating that question from the sudden attraction for the friend, otherwise that would only be adding to your uncertainty.

Anyway, it's a good thing you're asking these questions now, rather than only two months before the wedding, or worse, two months after.
posted by funambulist at 6:18 AM on July 13, 2005

This is perhaps not advice you should follow, but it's at least a perspective that hasn't been raised:

When I began grad school, I was single and developed a strong attraction and friendship with a woman who had been with her boyfriend for six years and had lived with him for one year. I was either (1) so connected and attracted or (2) so focused on my own desire for her that I didn't care about the boyfriend. One night in which the boyfriend happened to be out of town, after a number of beers, I went for it and we hooked up.

The next morning was a good test. I didn't feel guilty, or satisfied that I'd finally hooked up with my dream girl. I felt really sad that it probably was only a glimpse. And she felt that too, and we started "studying" together more, and we realized there was more there. She told her boyfriend the whole truth, and he moved out. Though most people thought that I was less a long term mate and more the guy who showed her that her current relationship was no good (a "rebound" guy), we kept dating from the day that he left.

Six years later, we are married and have a kid. Life is happy.

So maybe (maybe not, of course) this thing you feel is not just attraction to someone that's not your girlfriend or second-guessing your current relationship. Maybe it's real. One way to find out is to just go for it. See how you feel.

On preview: that was kind of a dick move by me, and if it ended any way other than the way it did (i.e. we fell in love and got married) I would have really been an a-hole. Proceed with caution, dude.
posted by AgentRocket at 6:26 AM on July 13, 2005

I don't think there's a pat answer here. I've been in long-term relationships and found myself interested in other women. In one case, I wound up hooking up with the woman in question; many aspects of that event (not least being my complete lack of regret) led me to break up with that girlfriend about a month later.

In the other case, I never got it together with my object of desire: at that time, it was more important to me to make my current relationship work.

The other thing to remember is that there may be a "grass is greener" effect at work here. You can see all the flaws in your current relationship, but the one you fantasize about is all rosy; in fact, if you wound up with the New Hotness, things might well be better, but they might not. It's hard to know how it would turn out when it's so hypothetical, but it's something to remember.

Whatever you decide, be honest and direct with everyone involved.
posted by adamrice at 6:44 AM on July 13, 2005

I think Caddis is closer than Curley. Time to have a talk, at least.
posted by klangklangston at 6:45 AM on July 13, 2005

Some of the best advice I ever read was to take these relationships one at a time. You shouldn't be looking at your current relationship and deciding if you'd be better off with the other girl. Look at your current relationship and decide if it makes you happy, or if you want out of it because of the relationship itself.

Then, once you've made a decision about your current relationship, if it is a decision to leave, consider whether the other relationship will make you happy, etc.

You owe it to the current girlfriend to give that relationship consideration on its own merit (and if she has to pressure you into marriage, that's not a great sign). You owe it to the potential future girlfriend not be using her as an escape hatch from the pressures of current girlfriend. You owe it to yourself to be as honest as possible about your feelings and to try to find happiness, whether it's one of these two, or with someone else not yet in the picture or by being single for awhile (it's not a horrible thing).
posted by jacquilynne at 6:50 AM on July 13, 2005

You're more attracted to the new girl because:

The relationship with your current girlfriend is full of pressure and guilt over marriage. You're maybe two years from wanting to be married, and your girlfriend wants it now.

Hey look, over here, there's this girl who likes you, she's pretty, and theres none of that pesky pressure. Wouldn't life be grand over there?

The new girl is attracted to you:
Because you're secure around her (not making passes) as you're involved.

As to what to do that's a thorny issue. Should you be with the new girl because she's younger/prettier/has no pressure with her.

You don't realize her disgusting annoying habits.

You have two issues:
Are you happy in your current relationship. If so, shut down girl #2 (and send her my way please). And make it work. This is only a fraction of what marriage is like.

Most married couples have times when they don't like being married - but you're not married yet.

Issue 2 is whether or not you like girl #2..and if she'll stick around once you create a mess in your life.
posted by filmgeek at 7:01 AM on July 13, 2005

In fact, you need to break up with her and move out. She's not the one, buddy.

Oh please. She may not be the one but feeling attraction is part of being human. Perhaps you and the other "run, run!" advisors are better people than the rest of us or perhaps you've watched too many Hollywood Love Conquers All films but temptation is a fact of life and relationships run hot and cold, even if they're good.

What's important is what we do with these facts. New attraction aside, you should deal with this marriage push from your cohabitant. Personally the pushing after 3 months of living together makes me raise an eyebrow - that's a short enough time that I wonder if she's moving too fast or if your moving in with her was a bone you threw her rather than an engagement. Either way, your best strategy is honesty... to a point. You're not ready and you just moved in together and need to finish adjusting to that before you make that kind of change. You respect that she's ready now but you'd like her to respect that you are not. Etc.

As far as the other woman, just don't be a cheating jerk.
posted by phearlez at 7:13 AM on July 13, 2005

She may not be the one but feeling attraction is part of being human. Perhaps you and the other "run, run!" advisors are better people than the rest of us or perhaps you've watched too many Hollywood Love Conquers All films but temptation is a fact of life and relationships run hot and cold, even if they're good.

"I would like to bone this woman who is not my girlfriend," is normal. "I am being pressured into a marriage that I don't think I want and I would like to start all over again with this other woman," is not. He's clearly talking about the latter.
posted by Mayor Curley at 7:21 AM on July 13, 2005

Clearly some great thoughts here, anonymous - I'd pay particular attention to funambulist & jacquilynne's & filmgeek's analysis ...
posted by Pressed Rat at 7:57 AM on July 13, 2005

I have to second the Mayor here. Sure, "feeling attraction is part of being human," but there's clearly more going on here, and asking the question in this way is practically its own answer. Girl #2 is essentially a distraction—there's no way for us or the questioner to know what's going on there—but she's serving to throw the deficiencies of the existing relationship into harsh relief. Sure, I get attracted to other women, but not even for one second do I think "I wish I wasn't married to my wife." And three months is equivalent to no time at all in the grand scheme of things; if it breaks up, it will be ancient history in less than a year (assuming you're sensible and don't try to "stay friends").
posted by languagehat at 8:22 AM on July 13, 2005

Mayor - don't be disingenuous. What you quoted immediately before your advice was I've never felt an attraction like this before, and I've certainly never had a chance to follow through on one, so I'm at a loss on what to do.

Based on THAT it doesn't follow this woman he lives with is Ms Wrong. The issues with his relationship are troublesome but just the attraction to this other person does not necessarily mean anything. If you meant your advice based on the whole picture I still think you're being overly general but you read as if it was just the attraction.
posted by phearlez at 9:00 AM on July 13, 2005

I don't have advice on the other woman, but for the love of God don't marry someone because you are being pressured into it. If you're not ready, don't get married.
posted by callmejay at 9:03 AM on July 13, 2005

I think most of the posters are in agreement here.

1) do not get pressured into getting married. It will not work in the long run, not least because this is only your second relationship.

2) being attracted to others is normal and not necessarily a sign that your current relationship is doomed.

3) your job is to figure out how happy you are in your current relationship and take it from there.
posted by widdershins at 9:24 AM on July 13, 2005

Trust someone whose nick means contrary or opposite to ruin a perfectly good argument over nothing! Kudos on a perfect summary.
posted by phearlez at 9:39 AM on July 13, 2005

As someone who is remarkably self-destructive in his relationships, I think that you're feeling self-destructive tendencies toward this relationship.

It sounds like a passive aggressive move on your part to end the relationship, or at least a desire to. "Things aren't as wonderfully awesome as I thought they would be, so I need to end the relationship. But how? How?!"

My advice:

1. Don't get married, don't get pressured into getting married. She brings up marriage, you bring up that you've only been living together for 3 months.

2. Don't do anything with your friend. She isn't what you want, you just want out of the relationship.

Talk to your current girlfriend, let her know how you've been feeling (er, leave out the adulterous fantasies, though...), and figure out what you need to do, both together and separately. She's just as affected by this as you are.
posted by billybunny at 10:45 AM on July 13, 2005

There's no such thing as "the one." There's also no way of knowing whether you'll be happier with the other girl than with your current gf. Everyone gets attracted to people outside their relationship sometimes.

Think about what you want out of a relationship. It could be that all this committment with your current gf is stressing for you, that you'd rather be free to play the field and have fun, or that for some other reason you would rather move on. Figuring out how you feel takes time - don't get married unless you are sure it's what you want. It won't make your relationship easier.

But try to consider that seperately from your feelings for the new girl. She seems exciting now because you don't have to do the work of keeping up a relationship with her. Eventually with her things might get hard too.

That's why I think all you can do is ask yourself whether your current relationship is worth the effort you need to put in to make it a good relationship. If it is, then forget about the other girl and work hard at being happy. Otherwise, break it off delicately.

Under no circumstances should you tell lies to either party or lead them to believe anything that wasn't absolutely true.

The other option, and what I actually did in a situation somewhat like yours, is consider an open relationship. This seems unlikely since your current gf wants marriage, but it can work well for some people.
posted by mai at 4:02 PM on July 13, 2005

« Older nytimes crossword reruns?   |   Guess That Plotter Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.