“You know, I thought that the person who waited on us at the restaurant last night was hot and I noticed I was attracted to them.”
How would you feel if your significant other said this to you? Would you feel insecure about yourself and freak out with jealousy? That is the likely response for many people.
We generally believe that it is not appropriate to talk with our current partner about how attracted we are to someone else. We learn that jealousy is the appropriate and justified response, since we have the romantic notion that our partner should never notice anyone else. If they do, our insecurities kick in, and we assume it means that we are not lovable enough, special enough, or good enough, and our partner might leave us. While this interpretation makes sense, it is not the only interpretation available.
It is natural to notice people you perceive as attractive, whether you are in a committed relationship or not. Pretending that it doesn’t happen does not make those thoughts go away. I think it is important to keep the doors of communication open around topics like this. Otherwise, when natural occurrences like this become shameful or judged, they can become more powerful. What we resist, persists.
I am not suggesting that you should share every libidinous thought with your partner. It could be difficult and downright overwhelming to hear continual commentary about who arouses your partner. I think that tact is important in building comfort in sharing around potentially sensitive topics. It is also important to learn that when your partner finds someone else attractive, it is not a reflection on you.
Why am I even recommending this at all? Because I believe people would be less likely to cheat if they established a foundation of openness and trust in the beginning of their relationship by sharing such topics. When we admit that we feel attraction to others, share this with our partner, and then choose to remain committed in our partnership, it creates a bond of trust and honesty that can bring couples emotionally closer in the long run.
(This was originally posted as the Sex & Relationship Blog for Pacific San Diego Magazine.)
~Dr. Jenn Gunsaullus, San Diego, CA -- Sexuality Speaker, Sexologist, Sociologist