What if your boyfriend/girlfriend is attracted to someone else?
I have read your blog about being attracted to someone else while in a relationship and it was really helpful. The thing is, I am in a multi-year relationship with someone 9 years older than me (I am in my early 20s). I can say we get along well because we share the same intellectual and maturity level despite the age gap. My boyfriend recently admitted that he is attracted to this girl who is one of his employees (he is a manager).
Well, this was not the first time it happened but this time seems to be more serious than before. Unlike the previous situation we had, he admitted to this girl that he likes her though the girl, being in a relationship herself, said that she only sees my boyfriend as a big brother. Despite this, I can still sense that there is something else going on. They would usually go out drinking with the rest of their team and the two of them would always sit beside each other even after I told my guy to at least try to fight the feeling if he still wants work things out between the two of them. Even if he told me that it wasn’t anything serious, I can’t help but get jealous and hurt with the thought of him spending more time with this girl than me. He works overtime everyday (which he always did even before we met) and after work, they would spend the rest of the day drinking. He would usually come home an hour before I am supposed to leave for work so we don’t get to spend much time with each other anymore.
I don’t know how to deal with it anymore. We have tried to talk about it but he kept on saying that he doesn’t understand himself either. He said that he still loves me but his answers to my questions show that he is not sure of his feelings anymore. I have been trying to think things over and decide whether to continue trying to work things out with him or just give up the relationship. He met this girl a little over a month ago. Please help.
Thank you – Lhen
Yes so I wrote about how to deal with a situation where you’re in a relationship but attracted to someone else, and also the situation where you are attracted to someone else who already has a boyfriend and girlfriend. I thought I was done with this, thanks God. Now I realized you are facing the challenge of exactly the third possibility: What if your boyfriend/girlfriend is attracted to someone else?
So I would like to invite you Lhen to look at this issue from different angles and I hope this approach will help you, as well as anyone else facing similar problems. I am not trying to provide you answers because I am not in a position to; but I would like to suggest ways to clarify your feelings and to organize your thoughts, so as to empower you to make a smarter decision about what you are about to do next. Again I want to point out that I have limited information and may have to make certain assumptions along the way but you get the idea.
First, let’s put you in other people’s shoes.
From your boyfriend’s perspective
- This happened before – you mentioned that this is not the first time he got attracted to someone else. So is this a consistent behavior? That sounds like an immediate alarm to me. Being attracted to someone else occasionally or on rare cases while you are in a relationship is normal and almost inevitable, but if this is a consistent behavior it suggests at least lack of self-control. And as you said, the previous incidences didn’t end your relationship but there is no promise that this time it will not, and there is no guarantee that this will not happen again.
- One month into it – you noted that it was only about a month that your boyfriend met the other girl. If things are happening fast in this month and if feelings are intense, chances are things could go away pretty fast too. If you feel it’s hard to judge and your boyfriend himself is confused in the mean time, you may as well give him another month just to see if things will clearly go one way or another. Just know that it may be the case that he will lose interest in the other girl in the following month; it may be the case that he will never say “I love you” to you anymore.
- Manager vs. employee – I am not sure if you are still at your home country but in certain parts of the world there are strict rules and social/professional standards on how a boss should not date/get into a relationship with his/her employees. It is not rare to see couples at the same firm, but people from the same department with direct reporting relationships could hardly ever work out, because the work place demands equality of opportunity and this is one single case that will cost people the sight of fairness. Even though your boyfriend is attracted to her, depends on which part of the world you are at, he could be very hesitant to actually act upon it.
- He doesn’t know – When he says he doesn’t know, trust him. When he says he loves you, trust him too, and know that it doesn’t mean he still loves you in the next second. I am not suggesting that you should blindly trust him, but I want to point to the fact that he doesn’t know reflects (at least to me) that he is probably not as mature as how you thought he was. He may not be entirely certain about how he feels, but is this the best way to figure things out? Keep hanging out with the other girl at late night hours, while ignoring your feelings and keep hurting you?
From the other girl’s perspective
- In a relationship herself – your situation is just not complicated enough isn’t it? (kidding). Well how strong is that relationship? Is she also debating on what to do knowing she’s attracted to someone else while she’s already in a relationship? Is she also hesitant to move things forward, at all, knowing there could be so many things at stake?
- The so-called big brother – is this really the other girl’s words or is this something your boyfriend made up just to comfort you? Even if it’s the other girl’s own words does she actually mean it? Why is she putting herself in such troubles anyway, is she really comfortable having her own boyfriend while dating someone else’s boyfriend who happens to be her boss too? If these thoughts ever worry her, why is she still spending so much time with your boyfriend?
- And let’s talk about why – Again does this have anything to do with the fact that she’s working for him? Does she have to almost hide her true feelings because she doesn’t want to upset her boss? Is she taking advantage of your boyfriend by seeking career advancement through something beyond a work relationship? Or is she simply trying to prevent jeopardizing her own career? These things will determine whether anything would happen at all, and whether things are meant to be short term or long term.
From your own perspective
- Where are your boundaries? – Regardless of what is REALLY going on, if this is a consistent behavior of your boyfriend, it is unfair to you and this is unhealthy to your relationship. You can be accommodating and understanding in a relationship and obviously you don’t need to freak out every time your boyfriend spends time with another female. But what are your boundaries? Were you ever clear about your boundaries? And if not, tell me what can stop your boyfriend from keep challenging you or hurting you?
- Another one month right? – So I talked about giving him (and her) another month to see where things would go. But I would like to invite you to take advantage of this month for your own sake. While he is wasting time with the other girl getting drinks, debating on his own feelings and almost feel guilty and sorry, why don’t you simply start moving on with your life already? I am not suggesting you to give up, I am suggesting you to be patient (and not freak out and not feeling constantly depressed) by engaging yourself in some other wonderful activities: maybe you can pick up another interest or some sport or start catching up more with old friends and go out to social and make some new friends. The most attractive women are those who have a life of their own. And when you start working on your own life, amazing new things may happen to you too, and maybe he’s not the one who actually wants to move on after the one month!
- You have to deal with sunk cost – Everyone knows sunk cost is a dreadful economic term but this is one situation where you HAVE TO deal with it. You’ve been in a relationship for a few years, so what? If that’s the only reason why you should still be in a relationship then it is the most stupid reason of all. If I have a choice, I would rather be hurt now than to be sorry later, and I would never want to sign up for anything uncomfortable that I will have to deal with for the rest of my life!
One last thought
One of my mentors once put this in an amazing way herself, which deeply shaped my thinking and I would like to share with you girls (especially girls) today: When you are young, beautiful, charming and lively, if you are all these things and if his eyes are still not placed on you, and if he doesn’t think the world of you and if he doesn’t want to adore you with all he has; he never will.
There are going to be difficult times in life. Life is simple but it’s not easy. You may get sick, you may become poor, and you will grow old, and it will only get harder, and love may even die one day. Yes if he doesn’t see you now; he never will.
What do you think? Hope you’ll work things out one way or another, and feel better!