Attracted to Others While Monogamous
Oh yeah, we’re going there: Are you attracted to other people while you’re in a monogamous relationship? You’re normal as fuck. As a previously married woman, I went through so much shame experiencing this. While it’s taken me a long time to feel comfortable admitting these feelings and talking about them, I think it’s useful to share.
I got married at 19 years old, and it was really beautiful. I married my best friend, my soulmate, my partner in crime. Many may say that was too young and perhaps I didn’t have enough experience with others sexually, which may have led to my wandering mind. In my case, this really isn’t true due to my past. Previous to my marriage I had myriads of sexual experience, and have always had a really fulfilled sex life. This was no different with my husband - through all the years together (and the times we weren’t together), our sex life was pristine.
All my relationships, including my marriage, were monogamous. I can openly say that through all these relationships, I experienced sexual attraction to others often. To me this was horrifying given my traumas and fears around breaking families, cheating, and lying. How could I, someone who’s experienced the backlash of these things, be sexually attracted to others? Especially when I was really happy in my marriage?
Through my studies in human sexuality, I came to realize these feelings are completely normal. It’s truly delusional to think yourself or your partner is never going to find someone else attractive or fuckable. The shame went away when I realized it was truly no harm no foul as long as you don’t act out of integrity with your partner. Having your gym crush, that person you love watching in porn, or liking someone’s Instagram photo isn’t going to make your relationship implode, I promise. At this point, I also felt very emotionally stable and satisfied in my marriage, so it was great to feel connected together.
The deep feelings of shames resurfaced when things were going south in my marriage, and I felt incredibly alone in my relationship. The sexual desires I had for others only intensified as I also fantasized of having some sort of emotional fulfillment come from it too. Now, the scary part: While ashamed, a strange kink developed for me to push these boundaries. I never understood why some people got off on breaking the rules until I was presented with the option. I pushed boundaries, and put myself in situations that were incredibly tempting. Now, this isn’t healthy - I was setting myself up for failure since these feelings weren’t communicated to my husband.
Whether you’re in a happy relationship or shit’s hit the roof, there’s a gentle way to approach these feelings in a monogamous relationship.
Use Some Logic.
Society says that when you find one person, under no circumstance can you even look at another person, let alone think about your desire for them. This leads to relationships where people tell each other dumb, controlling shit like: Who you can talk to, who you can follow, who you’re allowed to be friends with, etc.
If that’s you, newsflash: You’re being controlling as fuck.
This toxic form of thinking sets us up for shame, and unnecessary conflict.
While I had sexual desires for others, some are simply acknowledging the other person. There is nothing wrong or threatening about thinking someone else is attractive, or admiring who they are as a person. If you’re sexually attracted, there isn’t anything wrong with that either. It doesn’t mean you will act on that desire. I want to eat a pint of ice cream every night, but I don’t act on that. If you do want to act on that, more to come.
I'm sexually attracted to others, now what?
How about cheating?
When I was young, I thought cheating was the worse thing in the world until I was in a position where I wanted to do it myself. I’m not going to sit here and bullshit you, I’ve cheated. I’ve cheated because I feared confronting my partner for what I wanted. I’ve cheated out of spite. I’ve cheated to literally just feel something in very dark times.
While you can get away with it, it’s not something I condone. Cheating, or any form of dishonesty in a relationship you care about, will hurt it in some way. Breaking trust is very easy to do, and super hard to gain back. While I can’t tell you what to do, I do ask you to heavily weigh the pros and cons of your actions, while finding a better strategy to communicate.
Odds are if your default plan is to cheap in any form of relationship, desire for others is probably the smallest of your issues.
To act, or not to act:
THE KEY THOUGHT: Just because you are attracted to others, doesn’t mean you have to act on it. It’s about giving yourself (and your partner) the space to be human. This is normal, human behavior. I recommend you watch Dr. Jess’s TED Talk “Monogamish: The New Rules of Marriage”.
Make no mistake - Not all monogamous people need or want to act on these thoughts or urges. My followers have shared with me how fun, and even vital, it is to express their feelings off attraction to others. Maybe it’s commenting on that beautiful person walking by, or admiring a booty together. It’s a very non-malicious act, considering most monogamous folks get their fill from simply expressing the attraction.
If you’re like me, perhaps you have very real and strong desires that make you curious about exploring with others. I dealt with immense shame for even thinking about exploring these desires, and even deeper shame for thinking about cheating since I was scared to express these feelings to my husband. If you feel you would like to act, I would always recommend it’s done openly and agreed upon in your relationship. Of course, this is very nuanced - what are your reasons for wanting to act on this?
Do you just want sex, or are you in a bad spot like I was? Do you want some sort of fulfillment? What’s your drive? In an ideal world your partner would agree to open things up and you could explore with others or together, but many cases it isn’t so. How do you work through that?
Bringing this up to your partner
Let’s get uncomfy together. You’re realizing that your attractions, thoughts, or urges are far beyond just an innocent and casual occurrence you can swipe. If you’re simmering on these intense feelings and you’re in a relationship you care about, this will be a scary concept: Communicate it to your partner. I totally know what you’re thinking “Julieta why would I tell my monogamous partner that I fantasize about others?". Well bitch, if you don’t, and you don’t handle your urges, you’re going to do things that are out of character. Plain and simple.
Talk about your desires, and ask theirs. You may be pleasantly surprised that maybe your partner is okay with your feelings, or they have some of their own. It could open new doors of exploration, and every couple is different. Some explore together, maybe you want to role-play, maybe you’re okay with harmlessly flirting, some get their fix from a trio sometimes, some embark on their non-monogamous journey. Many monogamous couples I know simply get off on talking about exploring with others, and never doing it. It can be surprising to know our urges are fleeting, mental, and just want an avenue to be expressed.
I want to make an important note that seeing your partner as an individual, with their own needs, is very powerful. To see that even though they love you , they are whole on their own and have their own set of ideas and desires. How beautiful is that? It’s amazing, but it can also trigger jealousy.
I know, I know, some of you can’t bear the thought of your partner thinking anyone else is appealing. But, take a step back: Where is that coming from? Young Julie struggled with this, and current Julie experiences this in new forms. The problem is, we learn jealousy by being taught that love, romance, and connection is actually a form of ownership.
Ever see those cheesy insta bios saying “she/he’s mine”, belongs to, etc? Babe, no one belongs to you - your partner is a whole ass person on their own, and so are you. This form of thinking is why we get threatened when someone else talks to our partner, makes a move, or we see our partner show interest in someone else. We would be upset if our house was taken away or it gave itself to someone else, right? Newsflash: Your partner isn’t a house. You don’t own them, they don’t own you. When we can remove these feelings of love and ownership, can we start to appreciate our partners as… partners. Two people that choose to be together.
It’s also the petty shit that ruins relationships: Liking an instagram photo, expressing how hot you think someone is, etc. is harmless as fuck. Assuming and punishing your partner for their interest in someone else when they have not broken your boundaries is abusive.
In my experience, This says more about you. Besides, the root of jealousy is feeling a lack within ourselves. What parts of you make you feel that you’re lacking if your partner does this? Perhaps the classic “What do they have that I don’t?”. This is work you gotta do on yourself. When conquered, you can see what ease this brings to a relationship. Not being hurt by the small, harmless things but being empowered in your own security. Being so confident in yourself and your relationship that a simple glance at someone else isn’t going to stir the pot. Keep in mind how much you have to offer, if not your partner wouldn’t be with you - plain & simple!
Ask the Hard Questions
If your urges to be with others are super strong and you can’t find a compromise that you’re satisfied with, perhaps it’s time to reconsider the relationship. To question it, and see where there are cracks. I SAID IT.
So many people fall trap to this “Ride or Die” bullshit where they try to stick it out through everything. Not everything is meant to be tolerated, agreed upon, or brushed under the rug to make your partner happy. If something is wedging your relationship such as desires, you’ve got to look at the bigger picture. For me, I came to realize sharply that monogamy, especially monogamy where my emotional needs were not being tended to, wasn’t for me. I wasn’t a bad person, or a damaged one - I was simply trying to make the wrong type of relationship work. For me, that’s a non-negotiable.
Some questions to ask when considering this: Is the relationship working? Do my or my partner’s desires outweigh the possibility of successfully being together? Are there ways to fulfill these needs and be happy together? What can we change? What are the motives behind these urges? What can satisfy them within our boundaries?
Healthy boundary exercise:
I like to take a paper, and write down a list of your Negotiables, and your Non-negotiables. This creates a healthy baseline of where each partner is at, and perhaps identify spots where you can work together.
Negotiable: Bringing a third into the bedroom
Non-Negotiable: Being emotionally available to others.
Negotiable: Watching porn together
Non-Negotiable: Bringing other people in for sex.
Therapy is always framed as the most negative thing a person or couple can do, when it’s truly transformative. Therapy gives you the chance to have an unbiased human be able to lead you through the hard shit, and find strategies for success. If you or your partners urges are getting in the way, consider therapy. You may find that your urges are rooted much deeper than sexual desire, like other nuances in your relationship.
Be true to yourself
When going through this, being true to myself meant honoring the fact that monogamy wasn’t working for me. It can be hard to digest that sometimes a relationship may not be the right one for you, even if things are going great! I experienced the most shame in this topic during the times that my marriage was fantastic but I still wanted more.
Only you know the answer to whether the relationship is right or not. You may not have those answers right now, and that’s perfectly okay too - these are a lot of feelings to navigate after all!
What’s your experience?
What’s been your experience with attraction in monogamy? Write in and share!