Should You Tell Your Husband If You’re Attracted To Someone Else?

Even when you’re married and deeply in love, a hunky co-worker or a flirty bartender may catch your eye. It’s an age-old question: Should you tell your spouse if you’re attracted to someone else?

By Gwen Farrell5 min read
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You might feel surprised and even embarrassed that you’re low-key crushing on another man while married to someone else. Wanting to tell your husband about your feelings often feels like the right choice. Though you haven’t done anything or made any mistakes, your motivation to be open and honest is what’s telling you to disclose the crush. 

When a crush turns into flirting which turns into emotional or even physical infidelity, honesty is always the best policy. Infidelity destroys marriages, and deception on your end, however you justify it, will only accelerate the downfall of your relationship. But is a crush or attraction the same as infidelity? Is a growing attraction – which you may indulge in your own mind by virtue of it being just a crush – cheating? Most of all, does your husband need to know? 

The Grass Is Greener. Or Is It?

Marriage vows may be the most powerful and significant words we ever say in our lives. We say them to our spouse in front of witnesses, vowing to love, honor, and cherish them above everyone and everything until we die. These vows may be the most important promises we ever make, but unfortunately, they’re not magic. Just because you make these vows to your husband doesn’t mean your marriage will always be rosy and pleasant, nor does it mean that because you’ve committed your life to someone else, you’ll automatically stop being attracted to every other man you come across.

This might surprise us about marriage, especially if we’re newlyweds or our marriage is still in its infancy. If we’re so in love with our husband, how could we ever look at anyone else?

We may grow to understand this better as we get more and more years under our belt. The glow of the wedding day and the honeymoon may fade away, and all the excitement of our marriage turns to a routine. Over time, as kids enter the mix or we experience stressors like financial problems or other interpersonal issues, we’re not as thrilled as we were on our wedding day. This kind of realization – that our spouse is human and we are too – may dim things a little for us. By no means do we love our husband any less, but we’ve settled into married life now, and the status quo just isn’t as spontaneous or exciting as the early days of dating or marriage.

The fourth year of marriage is the year when most relationships face the test of commitment.

There’s even a well-known movie about this concept, The Seven Year Itch. An established, middle-age man with a wife and child becomes infatuated with his neighbor, leading him to completely question his marriage and whether or not he’s even capable of seducing this much younger woman. (It doesn’t help that the woman in the film is Marilyn Monroe, but our protagonist eventually leaves her behind to join his wife and son on vacation, forgoing his meaningless infatuation for the security of his marriage.) Looking at the popularity of divorces around year four of marriage, psychologists suggest that this is actually the year when most relationships face the test of commitment – which motivates the rest of us to examine the possibility that our relationships are ticking time bombs. 

At some point or another, we will be struck by the possibility that the grass is greener on the single, non-married side. We wouldn’t have a husband to pick up after, and we’d be able to go out with friends or on vacation whenever we want! But acting on this kind of shallow logic always produces disastrous consequences.

Knowing the Boundaries

The bored housewife trope is as tired as it is offensive to wives and mothers everywhere, but many would attribute this reason as to why women lose interest in their marriages and homes, and start to look elsewhere for fun and excitement.

Think of the early days of your relationship. You can’t get enough of each other, talking and texting all the time. Not only are you interested in him, but he’s interested in you. He cares about what you have to say, he spoils you with attention and admiration, and the strength of your bond is only growing. No matter how strong your marriage is, you may feel this excitement wane at times, which is why it may feel surprising or even wrong to experience it again elsewhere. 

As with most attractions outside marriage, this isn’t really about your husband, but about you. It could be a neighbor, a co-worker, a friend of a friend. Not only is this man nice to look at, but he wants to talk to you and hear about your life. You feel heard and seen, and if you’ve ever experienced self-esteem or body image issues, knowing that another person finds you attractive can be a really flattering feeling. But this man isn’t your husband. 

Relationship coach Suzanne Venker offers the following advice to women struggling with this: “Chances are your relationship feels like it’s lacking romantically because life got in the way. That [attraction] which you presumably had with your spouse at first will always – 100% of the time – peter out with the next person. The ‘happily ever after’ you envision with the other person isn’t real. It’s just a response to whatever you’re dealing with in your marriage. You should use that feeling to focus on your marriage by recreating the scene that brought you together with your spouse in the first place.”

Squashing that spark instead of throwing gas on it is always the best decision for everyone involved.

It goes without saying that unless a man is your husband, father, brother, or in some other way related to you, you shouldn’t be hanging out with him or texting him outside of professional situations (and in those cases, an email is always better than a text). You don’t need to be getting meals with him, or going to his house if you’re by yourself. And even if there’s a voice in your head saying it’s purely platonic, take a hard look at your decisions. If the roles were reversed and this was your husband with another woman, would it still be okay?

Feeling attracted to someone who isn’t your spouse can be a complex, guilt-inducing kind of feeling. But that’s all it is. Feelings are fleeting and temporary. It’s when those feelings result in actions, like things you know you shouldn’t be doing as someone else’s wife, when attraction becomes something very different. You don’t have to act on your feelings about this other person to justify them to yourself, or to test the waters, so to speak. This attraction may be a glimmer, but squashing that spark instead of throwing gas on it is always the best decision for everyone involved.

Respect Your Spouse Above All Else

To a dissolute few, having an affair and being unfaithful to your spouse may be a completely deluded act of “self-care.” But hopefully, the majority of us are principled enough to recognize infidelity for what it is – a stain on our social framework which destroys families and reaps nothing but pain and trauma. Once we become an adult, the stakes are higher with the choices we make. Sometimes it’s not always easy to foresee what could come of our decisions, but having an affair is one such case where the results are agonizingly predictable.

Respecting your spouse should be your primary consideration at all times. If you fear that a conversation or other interaction is verging on disrespecting your husband, that’s probably a helpful indicator that you should minimize, if not avoid, all other interactions with that person.

Affairs aside, what if you’re conflicted about finding someone else attractive? If you made it a rule of thumb to tell your spouse every time you found another man attractive, you’d probably be telling him several times a day, or whenever you watch TV or go on social media. The instinct to reveal this information to your spouse is a good one, as it’s based on honesty and openness. But licensed therapist Dr. John Delony refers to this as weaponized transparency, or our sometimes pathological need to overshare. If you haven’t done anything wrong and your interest in telling your spouse about your feelings solely exists to make you feel better and not them, then your admission is probably best left unsaid. Like any feeling, it will vanish eventually.

There’s always going to be someone smarter, sexier, or funnier around. A guy who isn’t your husband may be funny or witty or handsome, and that might interest you to some extent. This will continue to happen as we get older, and we’ll be tested time and time again with this kind of feeling. But none of that alters the fact that you chose one person over everyone else for the rest of your life, and your loyalty and devotion lie with them. Period.

Closing Thoughts

Chances are, you will probably find a lot of men attractive in your lifetime. You don’t have to completely ignore these thoughts like they don’t exist, but you don’t have to entertain them either. Recognize them for what they are – emotions that are temporary – and move on. Don’t ever make excuses to yourself for letting a thought become an action, and don’t give your husband a reason not to trust you. Your vows may have been exchanged years ago, but they’re still as abiding as the day you said them. You chose one man over all others for life, and there’s probably a good reason why you did.

Be honest with yourself but respectful to your husband. Respect him and respect your marriage. A marriage is always worth protecting, and the best way to protect yourself and your relationship is to know in your heart that while excitement is temporary, commitment – both to your husband and to any word or action you ever make in haste – is permanent. 

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