Dear Wendy: “I Love My Boyfriend, But I Fantasize About Other Men”
I’ve been in a committed relationship with my wonderful boyfriend for about two years now, and I’ve been extremely happy so far. I know he wants to get married in the next couple of years, and I thought I wanted the same thing. Recently though, I’ve started to find myself attracted to other guys. I feel really guilty about it, but I can’t seem to stop myself from flirting and wondering what it would be like to hook up with some of them. My boyfriend is extremely loving and always tells me how lucky he is, and how beautiful I am, and the guilt has been killing me inside. He treats me so incredibly well that I know I would be very foolish to give him up, or risk what we have for a random hookup because I do want to get married and have children. My sex life with my boyfriend has become more routine and less exciting which I think is also contributing to my wandering eye. Do you think I’m just not ready to settle down? Maybe people just aren’t meant to commit to one person for eternity. I really want to stay loyal to my boyfriend because I honestly love him so much, but I’m concerned my recent behavior is a reflection of a deeper issue. Am I a bad person? I know lots of women would kill to have such a loving guy. I want to stop taking him for granted and be happy, what should I do? — Ready to settle down?
I’m confused when you say you worry that your “recent behavior is a reflection of a deeper issue.” You don’t mention any inappropriate behavior in your note, only that you’ve been attracted to other men and have begun to fantasize about hooking up with them. That in itself is not bad behavior. If you acted on your fantasies, that would be a different story, but simply having the thoughts doesn’t make you a bad person … or even abnormal. In fact, after two years together it might seem a tad unusual if you weren’t finding yourself attracted to other men and even wondering from time to time what it might be like to hook up with them.
What you need to figure out here is where you want things to go with your boyfriend. Try to forget your wandering eye for a minute and focus on the relationship you have with him. When you think about yourself in five or 10 years, is it him you want to be with? If you think about being married to someone else and him marrying another woman, how do those thoughts make you feel? If you can’t stand the idea of not spending your life with this person, you have to figure out a way to manage your temptations and use your fantasies of other men to work with you in your sex life with your boyfriend.
The first thing you need to do is give yourself a break for being attracted to other men. Realize that this is a normal part of being a functional, sexual human being and everyone — yes, even your boyfriend — is attracted to people other than their significant others. It doesn’t mean people aren’t meant to commit to one person for eternity. Biologically, there may be an argument that we’re meant to procreate with as many people as possible, but socially we’ve been conditioned for monogamous relationships and that social conditioning is awfully powerful. It’s one of the reasons so many of us are able to remain loyal to one person for life.
Second, you need to remind yourself that a happy relationship is worth so much more than a random hook-up. What you share with your boyfriend is deeper and more intimate and meaningful than anything you’d experience hooking up with some guy you find attractive. Try to remember what it was like before you started dating your boyfriend — when you had free reign to date anyone you pleased. Did you feel fulfilled? More satisfied?
If you did feel happier than you do now or if you genuinely think there may be someone else out there who’s a better match for you, you probably aren’t with the right person. But a lot of times when we start getting comfortable in our relationships and begin talking about spending our lives with one person, we tend to romanticize being single — or having the opportunity to hook up with whomever we want, whenever we please. We forget what the reality was truly like; we forget that maybe being single wasn’t all that fantastic … and that sexual freedom was kind of overrated.
If you’re committed to making things work with your boyfriend, why don’t you focus on spicing up your sex life? Use some of the fantasies you have of other men when you’re getting it on with your guy. He doesn’t have to know you aren’t always thinking about him! Tell your boyfriend you want to put more emphasis on your sex life — he’ll probably be excited by the challenge! Try role-playing, watching porn together, using new sex toys, trying different positions. Change your surroundings; go on a weekend getaway and hole up in a cute little cabin or B&B — or even a tent at a campsite! — and experience sex in a new place. Or stay home and make a weekend of getting it on in every room of your house. The point is, if you’re feeling a little restless in your sex life, the answer isn’t to start hooking up with other people — unless you really want to end your relationship, which it doesn’t sound like you do. The answer is to think of ways to spice things up with your boyfriend.
The important thing to remember here is that you’re smart to explore these issues before you get married. You may find that with a little imagination and some communication, you and your boyfriend can take things to a level that’s not only comfortable, but is exciting and satisfying, too. Or, you may find that even after experimenting and talking with your boyfriend about making your sex life more fulfilling, you still aren’t feeling it. It may be that after two years the relationship has simply run its course. If that’s the case, it’s better you find out now. But don’t just blow off what sounds like a happy relationship because you’re feeling a little bored in the sack and have noticed some hotties in your hood.
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