Friday, 20 May 2016

Why it’s OK to be Attracted to Others in Loving Relationships


Let me tell you something very simple . . . this is a completely unrealistic, and completely false.
Unless you are demisexual and only feel attracted to those you have created mental or emotional bonds with, you will always feel attracted to other people, EVEN in loving relationships. This is simply the nature of being a sexual being.
For sexual beings, being attracted to others is a normal way of life—whether it is that toned guy with the infectious smile at the Deli, the girl with the big boobs and alluring perfume at work, or the neighbor with the charming personality and hysterical jokes. Feeling attracted to other people does not make you evil, it does not make you a philanderer, and it does not make you guilty of a terrible crime.
But what does count is what you decide to do with these feelings.

How Being Attracted to Others Evolves into Cheating and Lying

It is perfectly normal and perfectly OK to feel attracted to others in loving relationships. Anyone who tells you otherwise is either crippled by insecurity (e.g. “If they feel attracted to ____, they will stop feeling attracted to me and will therefore leave me”), or is deluded by the mistaken belief that “being in love means you can never be attracted to others.”
While it is OK to feel physically, emotionally and/or mentally attracted to others, the real problems start when, out of shame, we begin to hide away these feelings and refuse to acknowledge them both to ourselves and to our partners. We will explore how to acknowledge these feelings to ourselves and our significant others a bit later.
But for now it’s really important to understand that secrecy is the core root of all “evil” in relationships as it breeds lying and cheating.
When we hide from any uncomfortable truth within ourselves—such as the fact that we feel attracted to others—we breed a type of neuroticism within us that accumulates more and more. The more we shroud our thoughts and feelings in secrecy, the more they weigh down on us and lurk in the corners of our minds. Through time, our repressed feelings and thoughts grow into monster issues that perpetuate our feelings of guilt and dirtiness. We find that we start having sexual dreams about others that we can’t avoid, or we start having uncontrollable lust issues that we don’t know how to put a reign on. Sometimes we even give into our morbid curiosities and start affairs and secret rendezvous as a way of appeasing the morbid curiosity of our Shadow Selves.
. . . and why?
All because we made feeling attracted to others a crime inside of our minds—all because we denied ourselves the right to experience and accept these feelings from the very start.
But don’t beat yourself up. I know what it’s like to feel the insufferable weight of guilt constantly press down on your shoulders, and I know what it’s like to slowly remove the burden of self-inflicted blame from your life. While the lessons that I’ve learned might not be able to solve every problem in your life right now, I do hope they help you to heal that part of you that feels “criminal” inside.

How to “Clear the Air”

First, I want to write a disclaimer. This article is written for, and directed towards, loving relationships that are built on equality and trust. If your relationship is unhealthy, unequal and/or destructive, and if you have other people in the picture (for example, children), it is not always possible to be open to your partner about your feelings of attraction towards another person or people. It is even possible that in some types of relationships (e.g. physically or emotionally abusive ones) being open and “clearing the air” can do more long-term harm than good. It is up to you to determine what kind of relationship you have and whether it would be wise or not to “clear the air.”
However, it is always possible for you to be open with yourself about your feelings of attraction towards others. Sometimes forgiving yourself and giving yourself the permission to feel what you feel is all you need to move on with your life.
It can take a lot to rewire the “you-should-never-feel-attracted-to-others-in-relationships” belief that you have been indoctrinated (usually through religion) to believe for most of your life. So if you are struggling to give yourself the permission you need to move on with your life, try repeating the following affirmations to yourself:
“It is OK to feel attracted to others, but I choose [my partner].”
"I embrace my right to feel attracted to others. This is normal and this is acceptable."
"Although I feel attracted to this man/woman, I choose [my partner] for a good reason."
Like me you will find that through constant mental repetition of these affirmations, you will start to embrace the inevitability of feeling attracted to others, and you will let go of the guilt associated with these feelings. Remember, you chose to be with your partner for a very good reason, and it is important to remind yourself of that.
If you discover that you are still struggling to release the guilt you feel after repeating these affirmations to yourself many times, you are probably suffering from cognitive dissonance; or the state of having two conflicting feelings and beliefs, where one side of you wants to forgive yourself, and the other wants to continue holding yourself guilty. In this case, your word alone (at first) might not be enough to convince you that you are not at fault.
So let me give you mine:
I give YOU the permission to see that it is perfectly OK to feel physically, emotionally and/or mentally attracted to another person in a loving relationship.
Take this to heart.

Letting Your Partner Know

Did I just sense an impending feeling of doom well up within you? This is normal, don’t worry!
Letting your partner know that you find others attractive doesn't have to be as hard or as apocalyptic as you make it out to be. It can be as simple as, “That guy has a cute face, he reminds me of Orlando Bloom,” or “There’s this woman at work, she has these massive D-cups that she’s always showing off,” or “I love that guy’s smile, don’t you?” There are an infinite number of subtle ways to indicate that you find someone else attractive. You don’t necessarily need to come out and bluntly say, “Geez, that guy/girl has such a HOT BODY,” or “Wow, that woman intoxicates me with her tantalizing personality and ssssssashaying hips” to our romantic partners, but it is necessary to acknowledge your attraction in some way, shape, or form so as to not continue repressing it.
Also, remember that feeling attracted to others is a two way street. If your partner extends the courtesy of being understanding and good-natured towards you, be mindful of returning the same favor to them. Our insecurities can make us jealous, obsessive and over-reactive, so be aware of how you respond to your partner. In other words, treat them how you would like to be treated: with open-mindedness and acceptance.
Remember, the more comfortable and accepted they feel, the more likely they will feel safe enough to openly share with you how they feel in the future.