How Big A Problem Is A Little Crush?

When is flirting harmless and when does it mean your relationship is in the danger zone?

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| February 17th, 2012

Sure, you are not a robot, completely impervious to a pretty face or a hot body, but you also can’t be too naïve. There are situations that break down your inhibitions and are especially ripe for infidelity—namely the ones that involve alcohol. “The social psychology of human behavior is that after you have a few drinks in you and you’re alone with someone you find attractive the situation is almost too powerful to resist,” Dr. Sbarra notes. “What the committed person does is avoid those situations.”

As devoted Mike reasons: “I can draw the line here. I want to get drinks [when my co-workers invite me], but I’m not going to because I’m going home to my wife.” He doesn’t want to keep her waiting and wondering what he’s up to.

If perchance you find yourself playing the role of the jealous spouse, nervously watching your partner develop a close relationship with a member of the opposite sex, Jennifer Bevan, Ph.D., recommends you openly discuss it as positively as possible. She suggests: “A little humor might help too (e.g., joking to your partner and friend that she is his “other wife” might diffuse the situation a bit).”

That’s exactly how the wife of Stephanie’s office crush, Alex, 38, handled the situation. After spending long hours at the office working on the same client, the two had developed, a close, harmlessly flirtatious relationship. They got lunch together, talked about her struggles with dating and how disgruntled he was with his job, and even exchanged compliments. But despite how tame their friendship was, Stephanie was still a bit nervous about meeting his wife at a company event. However, upon introduction, the wife broke the ice by joking that she was honored to meet Stephanie, whom she called his “work wife.”

QUIZ: What's Your Relationship Style?

“He’s flirty with everyone and I think [his wife] just knows that’s his nature. And he wasn’t flirty with me in front of her.” Stephanie notes.

When it comes down to it, how committed you and your partner are will really decide if one of you will be seduced by a crush, Dr. Loving argues. And according to a Purdue University study, long-term relationships are more successful when they have one simple, seemingly obvious, component—they are considered by the partners to be long-term committed relationships. So, if you’re feeling secure in your relationship, don’t over-think your innocent crush.

Rest assured that whether you’re the jealous partner or the partner feeling a tinge of guilt over your crush, all things must pass. Eventually, the more you interact with or think about your crush, “You’re going to realize maybe they’re not all that hot,” Dr. Loving reassures us. “Our brains are wired to adapt to situations, so eventually things lose their novelty and become less interesting.”

No matter how many muscles you have, gym bunny, or how funny you are, cute co-worker, your days are numbered! Sorry, your good looks are no match for a good relationship. 

*Names have been changed.

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