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I have what is probably an incredibly mundane question, but I can't quite sort it out. I'm a cis heteroflexible woman in a big city. I'm in my early thirties. I've been with my boyfriend for five years and we live together. I've never cheated but I am a bit of a social flirt, which he knows and tolerates. Our relationship has been pretty good—good connection and conversation, mutually supportive—but I have a higher sex drive and more diverse sexual interests than he does. He is not open to flexibility around monogamy—but, to be fair, I haven't pushed it.

For nearly two years, I've been friends with a married man I met at work. We've since taken other jobs but remained in touch. We have seen each other socially on occasion, and over the last few months we've made those occasions come up more frequently and we've begun texting a lot. Recently, we acknowledged that we have romantic/sexual feelings for each other. I have a strong physical and emotional attraction for him, and I see in him qualities that I miss in my boyfriend. But, he is married and has young children. We haven't acted on anything.

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My questions...

Do you think this is the sort of thing that happens to everyone on occasion? Do you think my romantic/sexual feelings for my friend indicate that my current relationship isn't working for me? Finally, do I need to just stop talking to my friend in order to spare everyone some pain?

Lots Of Vital Emotion

Taking your questions one at a time...

1. Yes, I do think this sort of thing happens to everyone on occasion—well, it happens to nearly everyone, LOVE.

Unfortunately, LOVE, I can't give you the exact percentage of partnered folks who develop crushes on friends, coworkers, baristas, etc., because so many partnered people deny ever having those sorts of feelings. People don't like to think of themselves as disloyal, of course, and I think many people believe they're less likely to cheat if they refuse to admit to ever even having been tempted. (And who knows? Maybe they're right. Again, there's no data here.)

Another reason partnered people often don't want to admit,—not even to themselves—that they're attracted to someone other than their partner: because acknowledging these feelings is scary.

And it's scary for the reasons you're scared, LOVE: If you're feeling this way about some other person, what does that mean about/for your current relationship? We have it pounded into our heads from an early age that a person—a good and decent person—can only be romantically and sexually attracted to one person at a time. And a person who believes this shit is always in danger of mistaking a passing crush on some rando from work for evidence that they no longer in love with the partner at home.

2. Let's set your crush aside for a moment—or let's set aside the person with whom you've been having an emotional affair and will soon be having a physical affair if you keep going out of your way to see each other.

Is your current relationship working for you?

You say you have a higher sex drive than your partner and more diverse sexual interests. And then there's this: "He is not open to flexibility around monogamy—but, to be fair, I haven't pushed it." So it sounds to me like you raised the subject of opening the relationship up because you're frustrated both by the sex you are having with your boyfriend (not frequent enough) and equally frustrated by the sex you aren't having with the boyfriend (not varied enough). That's obvious inference here, right?

So crush or no crush, LOVE, it doesn't sound like your current relationship is working for you. Or not working as well as you'd like and so you're frustrated.

But you only floated the idea of opening up your relationship, LOVE, you didn't push it—and I'm guessing you soft-pedaled the reasons why you wanted to open the relationship too. Maybe if your boyfriend understood just how frustrated you are, maybe if he understood that your frustration is serious enough that you've contemplated slamming your hand down on the eject button (getting with someone else, getting caught, getting dumped), he might be more open to crafting an accommodation that allows for you to get some of your needs met elsewhere and/or stepping us his game and thereby lessening your frustration levels.

3. I think you should stop talking to your friend—not for your sake, LOVE, but for his. He's got a wife and small children, plural. If he gets with you, gets caught, and gets dumped, LOVE, the lives of at least four people will be thrown into chaos. Unless there are some extenuating circumstances here that you didn't go into—unless your former coworker is facing a cheat-or-leave dilemma and cheating is the least worst option for all (including his wife and kids)—do him and his whole family a favor stop meeting up with him.


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