Whether it’s a cute coworker, the shy barista at your local coffee shop, a burly UPS guy or even your caring chiropractor, it’s completely natural to feel a spark for someone you see frequently, according to YouBeauty Attraction Expert, Viren Swami, Ph.D. He suggests that proximity breeds that school-girlish swooning, especially in the workplace.
“The interaction with that person might be a positive thing for you. He might, for example, say you look very nice, which makes you feel better about yourself. It benefits you in some way to keep going back,” Dr. Swami explains.
With sweet incentives from sugar-coated compliments to eye candy, it’s no wonder you might find yourself getting your flirt on—even if you’re in a committed relationship. After all, “You can’t expect that because you’re in a relationship that you won’t find other people attractive. You will! The question is: What do you do with that attraction?” Dr. Swami points out.
So, it’s not all sunshine. This hottie bright spot in your day can have a dark side—guilt.
Ali,* 29, who had been living with her then-boyfriend of three years, found herself constantly flirting with a freelancer at her office. They went out to lunch and happy hour drinks together where they shared secrets, inside jokes and most of all, a mutual attraction. Although she never acted on it, the thought did occur to her. “I had a crush on him to the point where I felt like, ‘Oh my gawd, I feel guilty about this!’” Ali recalls.
Mike, 41, has caught himself starting to have sex dreams about the 20-something interns in his office. He admits he enjoys their compliments at work, even though his much younger coworkers are making him feel like a dirty old man. “I have a pregnant wife at home and here I am looking at college interns and I’m like, ‘Wow, they’re pretty hot!’ It makes me feel guilty,” he confesses.
But the question is: Did these people in committed relationships cross the line just by having a crush?
“Having a little guilt probably isn’t a bad thing. That’s a part of their commitment that’s manifesting itself and reminding them, ‘Wait a second you have this other [relationship] going on,’” says Tim Loving, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology at the University of Texas at Austin.
But YouBeauty Relationship Expert Dave Sbarra, Ph.D., draws the line when the fantasy that exists in your head starts to manifest itself in your behavior—from going out of your way to rearrange your plans to see this person to an actual act of physical infidelity.
For Mike, cheating on his wife isn’t an option. “I have to exercise willpower. I have to be a real man.” he reasons. “My wife is eight months pregnant, and there is some sexual frustration on my end. [The intern fantasy] kind of stems from that.”
Mike’s self-awareness is key, according to Dr. Sbarra. If you find yourself getting swept away in attraction, ask yourself: Why do I find myself fantasizing about this person? What need is this crush filling for me?
The answer to your flirting can be as simple as, “It’s just fun, that’s all.” And the crush can stay that way as long as the sexy times are all just between your ears. However, you just might come up with a real issue hidden in your answer.
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