Ask Scary Mommy is Scary Mommy’s advice column, where our team of “experts” answers all the questions you have about life, love, body image, friends, parenting, and anything else that’s confusing you.
This week: What to do when you’re happily married … but you have a mad crush? Have your own question? Email email@example.com
Dear Scary Mommy,
A bit of background before I jump in: My husband and I have been together for 13 years and I would be confident that he would agree with me when I say we are happily married and in love. I’m pregnant with our 4th child right now, and due in the fall.
And…I think I am developing a major crush on my high school friend. We have been connected on social media for years, but started chatting more regularly (via DM) over the last 6ish months. He commented on a picture I posted of my kids on IG stories and it took off from there. The thing is, we talk ALL THE TIME now and I absolutely love it. We have a lot in common, make each other laugh, have deep conversations, and inside jokes. We haven’t crossed a line physically, but we both know we aren’t going to stop talking and wouldn’t feel comfortable if our spouses knew how close we’ve become.
So, now what? I don’t think I want to leave my husband. But I’m definitely not wanting to (or willing…) to cut off contact with my friend. We both admit there’s a strong emotional connection there, so this probably isn’t appropriate for two married people in a monogamous relationship to be doing.
We don’t live far from each other and I think the only thing stopping us from meeting up is that I’m very pregnant. We likely wouldn’t be able to keep our hands off of each other and I am not willing to “go there” while pregnant with someone else’s baby! I mean, maybe that wouldn’t happen. But I don’t want to take any chances.
I can’t imagine this is a good start for any relationship. It would be doomed to fail. And yet, my mind wanders. I also can’t imagine keeping up this secret for years. That seems exhausting and also unfair to my amazing husband. So…what the hell do I do here? I can’t bring myself to confide this to any of my friends because we all grew up together and they know him (and his wife, and like them both) too.
I’m going to sum up my answer in one simple statement: If you wouldn’t do it in front of your spouse, you shouldn’t do it at all.
I know, I know – that’s no fun. And having a crush is, well, thrilling. When you’ve been married for a long time to the same person, you may love them deeply, but it’s easy to lose that spark. Finding it again – even if it’s with someone else — can be exciting. I get it, and so does anyone else who’s been in a long-term relationship that gets stale from time to time. If marriage were always a romantic adventure, the divorce rate would be way lower.
But, it isn’t. You throw kids and bills and everyday stressors (and pooping with the door open) into the mix, and suddenly those butterflies in your stomach stop fluttering. And when you find someone who makes them flutter again, it’s intoxicating. You crave more of that, and before long you’re treading into treacherous waters.
This crush likely has less to do with the guy himself, and more to do with the way he’s making you feel. It’s a huge confidence booster when someone is flirty and interested. Even pregnant, you’ve still “got it.” His attention is giving your self-esteem a shot of adrenaline. Who doesn’t love to feel desirable?!
You are absolutely right, though, when you say this isn’t a good start for any relationship. And, lest we forget, your husband probably made you feel that way too at one time — and if you were to enter into a deeper relationship with your crush, you would be throwing away the life you’ve created with your husband, only to create another one that will inevitably morph into the same comfortably-numb state of togetherness you’re living in now. Not to mention you’d be throwing two (rightfully-bitter) ex-spouses, custody agreements, child support situations into the pot of stress.
You aren’t wrong for feeling the way you do. It’s natural, and those feelings are valid. But you’d be wrong to follow up on it at the expense of your husband and your family. Your marriage may not give you the same visceral thrill as your crush does, but there’s a lot to be said for a solid relationship, even if it feels a little stale sometimes. You have a history. You share children and memories and common goals. There are lots of reasons to leave a marriage, but being bored and chasing a crush isn’t one of them.
Think about all the things you love and appreciate about your husband; it can be all too easy to focus on the things that drive you nuts. All you see of your crush right now are the good things, the sexy and witty things, the carefully-curated social media — not the everyday gross and boring things that regular humans do in the presence of a more intimate relationship. You don’t get to see him flossing his teeth and farting under the covers, which makes him look a lot more attractive. Meanwhile, your husband is hoarding the remote and letting his toenails get a little too long. But the other guy is doing these things too, trust me; just not in front of you at this point.
It’s time to take the energy you’ve been putting into your online relationship and put it toward yourself and your family. Do things to boost your own self-esteem. Busy yourself preparing for the arrival of your sweet baby. Remember the reasons you fell in love with your husband in the first place — and the things you appreciate about him now. Focus on his good qualities, the things you find sexy and appealing about him.
The situation you’re currently in isn’t fair to your husband, and it isn’t fair to your crush’s wife. And though it’s fun and exciting, it’s creating stress in your life that you don’t need … and it can only get worse if you allow things to progress. It isn’t good for anyone involved. If you feel like completely cutting him out would only make you obsess, then just follow him on social media and “like” a picture occasionally. But from here on out, only engage with him in a manner that wouldn’t make your spouse raise an eyebrow.
Consider yourself fortunate that you’ve been with your husband this long and are still in love and happy. It sounds like you’ve got a lot going for you as a partnership — is that worth giving up for a few butterflies? It’s time to stop staring wistfully at your neighbor’s grass and start to water your own.