Girlfriend has a crush but not on me
May 22, 2012 4:43 AM   Subscribe

My girlfriend told me that she has a crush on another guy. Not really sure how to deal with this revelation.

We are in a very serious relationship. She loves me and only me, she says, but she has developed a "crush" on another man. Does this "mean" anything? Should I be concerned or worried? Is this normal? I cannot help but feel inadequate somehow. I guess my question is: has anyone been in this situation before, and how do you deal with it both emotionally and pragmatically?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (34 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Thoroughly normal. Is she going to do anything about it?

If so, then the two of you weren't meant to be.

If not, then she's picking you, and that's pretty nice.
posted by Etrigan at 4:46 AM on May 22, 2012 [10 favorites]

My main concern would not be the crush (as mentioned above, pretty normal) but why is she telling you about it? If she's not going to do anything about it, I don't see this as a case where honesty is the best policy... Is she trying to make you feel bad? Maybe she is just feeling really guilty, but I do wonder about her motivations. Personally I'd only tell someone this if I wanted them to feel inadequate.
posted by KateViolet at 4:50 AM on May 22, 2012 [8 favorites]

This happens, and I imagine most people in long term relationships experience it. The mature response is to back off from the guy. The immature response is to end your relationship because you developed a crush.

Emotionally, you have to talk with her, and figure out what your needs are. For some relationships, the problem would be the existence of the crush; on the other end of the spectrum, some relationships would invite the guy into a separate arrangement with everyone being ok with it. There's no rule book, although I suspect most people would feel a bit jealous, but would be fine with it assuming nothing further happened, and it did not become a point of focus.
posted by ellF at 4:52 AM on May 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

Everyone has crushes. I'd be more worried if she didn't talk to you about them.
posted by robcorr at 4:56 AM on May 22, 2012 [13 favorites]

Crushes are normal. You've answered your own question:

We are in a very serious relationship. She loves me and only me, she says,

If you need further clarification, you need to ask her.
posted by mleigh at 4:57 AM on May 22, 2012 [2 favorites]

Crushes are normal for many, many people, both those in relationships and those not. Talking about them with your SO is also normal for some relationships. Maybe she just didn't realize this would freak you out.

So, no, it probably doesn't "mean" anything.
posted by solotoro at 4:58 AM on May 22, 2012 [3 favorites]

The main issue is *why* did she tell you. Have you had a conversation about that? There could be a variety of reasons why, each with their own set of options for you, but really she's the only one who can tell you which one it is. I don't think her telling you is inherently bad, at least she's being honest about her feelings.

- Does this crush provide some sort of emotional need that is not being fulfilled by you? Is this something you can become more aware about and try to fulfill?
- Is she hinting that she wants to explore the idea of a poly relationship? Are you open to that?
- Perhaps she has an unfulfilled fantasy that you could both try and realize?
- Maybe she is just telling you just for the sake of telling you. This sort of confession is best left to girlfriends over a cup of coffee, but if you guys are super close she may have brought up a topic best left alone in the mistaken belief that you need to share everything with each other. Harmless crushes are just that, as long as they remain fleeting crushes and you don't necessarily have to do anything about it.
posted by like_neon at 4:58 AM on May 22, 2012 [3 favorites]

Time for the crush conversation. As robcorr said, "Everyone has crushes." When you are in a long-term relationship with someone, you must decide as a couple how you will handle that. Your girlfriend is clearly in the "share everything" camp. You sound like you might be in the "share nothing" camp. Talk it out. This is one of the basic relationship conversations.
posted by hworth at 4:59 AM on May 22, 2012 [5 favorites]

Funny, my instinct is that it's weird that she IS talking to you about having crushes.

Find out why she's telling you. While i guess there's lots of possibilities, the two main ones are:
1) She's telling you she has a crush because she wants you to know she loves you so much that these little crushes are insignificant.
2) She's telling you she has a crush because she wants you to know that she's not entirely confident that her relationship with you is right for her.

(Option 3: She's an over-sharer who's just going to randomly tell you things.)
posted by Kololo at 4:59 AM on May 22, 2012 [7 favorites]

What kind of crush? Is it an "omg I'm flustered by his handsomeness" or an "if you weren't my boyfriend, I'd want to marry him and have his children" type crush?
posted by discopolo at 5:02 AM on May 22, 2012

Your reaction will determine what it means. If you become insecure and allow this to eat away at you, you may well be the one that undermines the relationship. Jealousy, insecurity, etc.

Perhaps it's best not to completely ignore it and act like she didn't say it, but to make a joke out of it. The way you make a joke out of it is that the joke is about crushes, not about the specific person. Jokes are not mean-spirited but lighthearted. It's a way of testing whether this is something threatening to the relationship, or if it's something you can toss around together.

And I may get attacked for saying this, but often women enjoy 'testing' men. They look to tease out men's true characters. One of the reasons men like poker is that it's beneficial to be able to hide your true nature. If your true nature is revealed, it can often be manipulated. Thus, men learn to manage their appearance and control their emotions. That clever shield does not suit women, who want to know the character of a man before potentially incurring the costs of that character.

Thus the game. The correct response for those provocations is nothing, but an authentic nothing. Realistically, if she chooses to cheat, there's absolutely nothing you can do about it. And either you know that or you do not. If you know that, then you know that you cannot change the outcomes, thus you will enjoy the ride and crack a joke. If you do not know that, you may become jealous, possessive, etc.

Thus, react with authentic nothing and make a joke out of it. Besides, everyone has crushes, even in relationships. You probably do yourself. If you don't, you may be repressing them. And you might feel guilty for having them or something, thus an insecurity that you have a secret. Who knows. As mentioned, the meaning will be determined by your reaction, so it's probably worth having a reaction that suits the future you want to have with this woman.
posted by nickrussell at 5:10 AM on May 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

It is pretty common among people I know to tell your SO about a crush in order to minimize the power of the crush. Feelings develop, it just happens, but when you keep it a Deep Dark Secret those feelings can sometimes grow in ways that you don't even want them to. If you tell your partner, it's not a secret anymore and it doesn't have that Omg Secret Forbidden Crush Power over you. And then, it goes away. Since she told you about it before anything happened (presumably), I would bet that she WANTS it to go away. Because she loves you, and she knows that this momentary chemical reaction in her brain isn't worth anything.
posted by showbiz_liz at 5:17 AM on May 22, 2012 [56 favorites]

My fiancée made me promise that I would tell her if I ever had a crush on another person. She would want to know, she says, and she also believes that were it in the open it would be easier to not act on it. Some of the mystery and intrigue that made those feelings so exciting would be gone.

I, personally, told her I don't want to know unless it gets to the point where she is considering leaving, and I trust her to take care of it. I would just be too jealous and hurt, knowing.

Which of these philosophies does your girlfriend subscribe to? Have you ever had a conversation about "what if one of us gets a crush?" before? I do think getting crushes is fairly normal and happens to everyone. It's how you deal with it that matters.

Even though I wouldn't want to know, myself, it seems like a good sign that she told you. Since she says she only loves you, it seems like she is telling you to keep herself honest and make sure there are no secrets in a relationship. However, you really have to ask her.

Good luck.
posted by ohsnapdragon at 5:18 AM on May 22, 2012 [4 favorites]

Just came in to echo what showbiz_liz said: talking about it may be her way of making it more mundane instead of secret and thrilling. Also in the past I've confessed a crush just because it made me feel guilty. Best to just ask why she told you.
posted by brilliantine at 5:37 AM on May 22, 2012 [2 favorites]

Crushes are normal. I don't know if everyone has them, but I know I have them, my wife has them, and the friends I've talked all have them.

What you need to figure out, though, is this just an "OMG, he's so hot and dreamy, he'll make for some fun fantasy material for a few months, yum yum" crush, or is she letting you know that something is wrong in your relationship via talking about him? There's no way to know without just having a low-key, no-drama conversation about how things are going, how both of you are feeling, etc. That's just a good thing to be doing in general anyway, because no one is a good mind reader and it's better to discuss things early before resentments get large.
posted by Forktine at 5:40 AM on May 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

Details? If she said it like, how annoying, I'll handle it and is obviously not hanging out with the guy, this one's a keeper.

If she wants to hang out with him and just be friends, you have to have a talk.
posted by Ironmouth at 5:44 AM on May 22, 2012

First of all, having a crush on someone when you're in a relationship doesn't necessarily mean there's something wrong with your relationship.

It doesn't necessarily have to mean anything.

But you can use this opportunity to clarify a situation that most people tend to just make assumptions about.

Talk about what's ok and not ok in terms of sexual expression with regard to other people. Make rules and set boundaries that work best for your relationship, strictly non-monagmous, strictly monogamous or anything in between.

This is totally normal and really doesn't have to be a traumatic experience if you don't want it to be.
posted by girlmightlive at 5:56 AM on May 22, 2012 [2 favorites]

Keep the lines of communication open and see if there are other things about your relationship that need tuning up.

I've had partners have crushes, and sometimes it's a problem and sometimes it's not. I think my current partner gets crushes but doesn't bother telling me; it's just kind of clear from the way he talks about someone. Actual cheating, as we have defined it, really isn't on the menu for him I don't think. With my first partner-- in his mind anyway-- it would have been a disaster for either of us to have a crush, I think because monogamy was such an unnatural state for him, it was like he was always worried about a slip of some kind. So yeah, totally depends on your situation, what she said and how she said it. From what little you've described, it really doesn't sound too bad.
posted by BibiRose at 5:57 AM on May 22, 2012

I think this may just be a different style of dealing with relationships.

I'm in a happy, long term relationship with someone I love very much. I also have attractions to other people, sometimes-old flames, new people I meet. Mild attractions, not severe.

We talk about it. We talk about when I miss talking to old flames, we talk about when I think someone's attractive or not attractive. He talks about when he finds someone physically attractive.

It's just...not a negative thing in our relationship. We share things that are concerning us, or going on. It wouldn't be unusual to talk about that sort of thing, but it wouldn't mean there was trouble in our relationship.

I don't think your girlfriend sharing means there's necessarily a problem-it may just mean she's used to a different relationship style.
posted by corb at 6:08 AM on May 22, 2012

Agreeing with just about everyone that you have two separate things going on here; the fact that she has a crush is a separate issue from the fact that she told you about it.

Crushes happen in even the best relationships; during one of the best relationships I ever had, I still got my head turned by a hot doctor who was flirting heavily with me during an emergency eye-doctor vist I needed to make. Absolutely nothing came of it except for some fleeting fantasies on my part the next time my then-boyfriend andI had sex.

But I also didn't tell him about it, because that wasn't the way either of us roll; I knew he probably wouldn't want to know about it, and I'm sure he had occasional fleeting crushes like that and he knew I sure as hell wouldn't want to know about it. As low-key as it was.

However, it's very possible that she told you only because she thinks it's so silly and ridiculous that it couldn't possibly go anywhere, and is seeing it as a big joke. The only "crushes" my boyfriends and I ever told each other about were the celebrity kind, which also are totally normal, and we used them as fodder for teasing each other now and then ("hey, your boyfriend John Cusack is in that movie we wanted to see, should we sit in separate seats, ha ha?" "Oh, you know you're gonna get too caught up listening to that new album by your girlfriend P.J. Harvey and miss it anyway, hee hee....") However, if I ever met someone who would be disturbed even by that, I'd shut up about it; not everyone is wired the same way when it comes to why you'd tell someone,, or what you feel about hearing that.

I'd establish with her why she told you about this, and just how serious it is; and then decide what your comfort level is with this sort of information based on how seriously she's taking it. But a crush is not, in and of itself, a sign that anything is necessarily wrong. Good luck.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:09 AM on May 22, 2012

showbiz_liz totally nailed it!

Your SO trusts you and shared something with you that had the potential to not be received well. Your SO is not hiding this from you.

In my relationship, we tell each other all the time when crushes pop up. It recognizes that this is a normal event and not something to worry about. It keeps the feelings out in the open where we can address them and move on. We choose to make a joke about it most of the time because it is such a non-event for us.
posted by onhazier at 6:10 AM on May 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

Generally when your SO tells you true things that you would rather not hear, it indicates that they're a trustworthy person.

My advice would be to only get worried if she makes regular plans to hang out one-on-one with him in an intimate environment. (Ie, late-night dinner, ice cream at his house, etc.)
posted by wolfdreams01 at 6:30 AM on May 22, 2012

I think I've discussed this on Metafilter before, but my wife and I have an general policy of telling each other about crushes, for the reasons showbiz_liz mentions. I don't want to cheat on my wife, but I have absolutely zero interest in cheating on my wife with a woman she regularly calls my GIRRRLFRIEND in a loud voice while making kissing noises.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 6:40 AM on May 22, 2012 [37 favorites]

Totally normal. You should use this inevitability as an opportunity to discuss monogamy, crushes, fantasies, boundaries and jealousy. Many couples never approach these topics until cheating occurs and the lack of communication can break up a relationship. Talk about it!
posted by theraflu at 7:51 AM on May 22, 2012 [2 favorites]

I have a new crush everyday pretty much, on men, women, characters on tv, once on a type of ice cream. They pass. I tell my husband about them because I want them to remain crushes, if I tell him then he's included in a silly fun thing that part of how I think and not something secret and scary that threatens the relationship. If she's telling you about the crush she is removing it of it's power, she loves you, tease her about it and relax.

If you are worried talk to her about what it means talk to her about it, just realise if you do she may take her crushes "underground" and that's where they ferment and can become weird.

Oh just a thought, I know a lot of women bond by talking about who they like or are crushing, maybe she is trying to feel closer to you by letting you know this.
posted by wwax at 8:19 AM on May 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

Declaring crushes seems like a reasonable way to diffuse them.

But...if she never acts "crush-y" with flag. I have seen this personally and in other relationships. Crush declared...interacts with crush in a flirty way...with you, not so much.
posted by teg4rvn at 8:31 AM on May 22, 2012

absolutely zero interest in cheating on my wife with a woman she regularly calls my GIRRRLFRIEND in a loud voice while making kissing noises.

Yeah, these things turn jokey over here too when mentioning their "other girlfriend" or "othah lovah." YMMV.
posted by salvia at 8:31 AM on May 22, 2012

Crushes are normal; though it might be a little strange that she told you. I'd ask her why she told you this- did she tell you because she feels she needs to be that level of open? Or is this her way of saying something is going on in your relationship?
posted by spaltavian at 8:38 AM on May 22, 2012

Another of the long-marrieds (and monogamously so, in our case) who jokes with spouse about our respective crushes.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:08 AM on May 22, 2012

Does this "mean" anything?
Ask her.

Should I be concerned or worried?
Ask her.

Is this normal?
The crush or the commentary? Mileage would vary widely on that one.

has anyone been in this situation before,
Yes, once.

and how do you deal with it both emotionally and pragmatically?
We broke up when the "crush" became infidelity.
posted by sm1tten at 9:09 AM on May 22, 2012

She loves me and only me, she says, but she has developed a "crush" on another man.

Depends on the guy and how close she is with him and whether he's available or not.
posted by empath at 9:44 AM on May 22, 2012

Do they work together? Does she feel close to you and appreciated? Is she lonely or feeling dissatisfied? Are you having regular, satisfying sex? Is she having a crisis or serious stressor (sick/lost parent, unemployed or underemployed)? Has she been nursing/supporting you through a prolonged time of difficulty?

The answers to these questions would determine my personal worry about this situation. Especially the work question. I have a lot of friends whose jokey work crush turned into a full blown affair/relationship. The proximity makes it difficult to get away from the crush. They get respect for their competence at work that they don't get at home. Etc.

Your response should be to make sure she feels appreciated and loved, not taken for granted or ignored. This should always be something you work on anyway but especially now. Good luck!
posted by the young rope-rider at 10:34 AM on May 22, 2012 [4 favorites]

This is the part where you show what a cool guy you are by teasing her about it.

Lemmee tell you, it will help defuse the crush, and she, if she has any sense, will be like, "shit, my bf is awesome."

And also, it will help when you will probably develop your own crush sooner or later. If you guys are together for the long haul, chances are, it will happen,
posted by The ____ of Justice at 1:39 PM on May 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

This is normal. She also may be trying to defuse it by telling you.

Does this crush changes in any way her feelings towards you ?
If not, don't worry about it (although depending on your relationship, feel free to tease her with it :-) )
posted by motdiem2 at 6:47 AM on May 24, 2012

« Older What is the best way to get better at disc golf?   |   Looking for social media buttons with counter Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.