Here’s a common romantic myth: in a satisfying relationship with the right person, you should never feel attracted to anyone else.
But according to Relate, the UK’s largest provider of relationship support, it’s perfectly natural — and inevitable — to find people other than your partner attractive from time to time.
In fact, it’s much more common than you might expect.
In one study published in Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy, almost 70% of participants said they’d experienced some kind of attraction toward someone other than their partner while in a long-term relationship.
The researchers noted that even in happy, committed, monogamous relationships, attraction to others was normal.
Is it wrong to feel attracted to others?
What matters is how you act in response to the attraction — not the inevitable attraction itself.
“I get emails all the time from people in relationships who get blindsided by finding someone else attractive,” says Mark Manson, self-help author and personal development consultant. “They feel horrible because of it.”
But it’s irrational to beat yourself up over involuntary thoughts and feelings. Entering a relationship doesn’t switch off your normal biological functioning.
As advice columnist Mariella Forstrup puts it: “being in a long-term relationship doesn’t lobotomize the part of your brain that deals with attraction.”
Your brain makes automatic judgments about attractiveness
“When we look at another person, our brain very quickly processes the visual information our eyes see, and we nearly instantaneously make a judgment concerning the other person’s attractiveness,” writes Gary Lewandowski, psychology professor and author of The Science of Relationships. “We can’t really help making these judgments; it’s automatic.”