Tracey Cox reveals how to deal with crushes when in a relationship

Are YOU obsessed with someone other than your partner? Tracey Cox reveals how to deal with crushes when you’re in a relationship (and the six signs someone fancies you)

  • Sex and relationship expert Tracey Cox reveals nine steps to crush your crush
  • From keeping your distance to forcing yourself to see the flaws in them 
  • She says that acting awkward around you is a sign someone fancies you 

Jennifer Lawrence is crazy about Larry David, Ariana Grande pronounced Jim Carrey her ‘lifetime crush’ and Diane Keaton is nuts about Channing Tatum.

Even the celebrities we have crushes on have crushes on other people.

Just about everyone has experienced that sudden, intense longing for someone we don’t know very well at some stage in their life.

Most of the time, crushes are healthy and harmless – even when you’re in a happy, monogamous relationship.

From keeping your distance to forcing yourself to see flaws, sex and relationship expert Tracey Cox reveals the nine steps to crush your crush (stock photo)

You might google Jon Hamm a little more than other people (just a for instance, you understand) and refuse to speak to your best friend for a week because she stood next to him at a restaurant and didn’t call to tell you to get you’re a*** over there.

Most celebrity crushes aren’t dangerous simply because it is unlikely you’ll ever meet the person. Going weak at the knees over Aquaman generally isn’t going to cause problems.

But what if your crush is sitting across from you at work, typing innocently away on their computer, oblivious to your yearning for them? Or the new boyfriend of your best friend?

Some crushes are so all-consuming they disrupt our lives and damage our relationships – but it still doesn’t stop most of us from having them. You can blame your brain for that.

Why we have crushes

Crushes originate in our limbic brain which is responsible for basic functions like breathing and your heart pumping. It’s also the part of the brain that gets us addicted to drugs.

Humans will do just about anything to stimulate production of a highly enjoyable mood-boosting hormone called dopamine – and the limbic brain loves it most of all.

Falling in love sets off the production of dopamine, so does having sex – or anticipating or fantasising about either.

Luckily, we also have a cortex, which means we’re capable of rational thought that stops us acting on every primal impulse.

In most cases.

Some people are love junkies and so hooked on the feeling a flood of dopamine produces, they do follow through.

Tracey Cox (pictured) also reveals the six signs that someone fancies you

Most of us, however, stop ourselves following through on the urge to sleep with everyone we’d like to – and that’s when a crush develops.

One sex therapist estimates over the course of a long marriage, most people become infatuated or in love with others an average of six times.

Being in love with your partner doesn’t stop you finding other people attractive or adorable and having crushes is one way of fulfilling the natural urge to sleep with someone new while maintaining the commitment to monogamy.

Most crushes don’t survive real life scrutiny

Crushes keep us gripped because they’re rooted in fantasy: we see someone who physically does it for us and then project all the other traits we love onto them.

Not only are they appealing looks wise, we make them kind, funny, rich, entertaining, caring and (always) great lovers.

The person becomes irresistible because they’re so highly idealised.

When we fall in love, our feelings are based on real life experiences. Sure, our judgement’s all a bit haywire in that heady beginning, but there is some reality. Not so with people we don’t really know.

The guy who catches the same train as you might seem kind because he got up to let you sit down but you have no way of knowing if this is actually the case if your interaction never moves past that level.

One act does not make it true.

This is why it’s usually not advisable to put your primary relationship in jeopardy by acting on a crush – they rarely live up to our expectations.

But what if the person you’re crushing on is someone you see all the time and they are turning out to be just as delicious as you hoped they would be?

What do you do if your crush is getting horribly out of control?

Crushes keep us gripped because they’re rooted in fantasy: we see someone who physically does it for us and then project all the other traits we love onto them, Tracey says (stock photo) 


Get your kicks elsewhere

If you’re after the dopamine rush, go for a run. Exercise also stimulates production. Or go to a theme park with your partner and head for the rollercoaster: danger does it as well.

Don’t confess

If it’s a celebrity and your partner’s not the jealous type, they might find it cute or funny that you have a crush on someone you’re unlikely to meet. But no-one wants to hear their partner is fantasising about being with someone they see often.

Yet people do confess – often because they’re so infatuated, they want to be able to talk about the person.

Keeping your eyes glued to the screen while watching Magic Mike is one thing; mentioning David from the tech department five times over dinner is hard for any partner to stomach.

What will telling your partner achieve other than make them feel less attractive, less sexy and less desired than they did?

A mild celebrity crush is fine, otherwise keep quiet.

Keep your distance

Having steamy sex with someone in your head is not cheating. But it inches towards that, the more contact you have with the person.

Don’t feed the fantasy by telling the person you have a crush on them. Don’t get their phone number. Don’t kid yourself it’s a ‘work’ lunch when it’s obviously not.

If you’re unsure what behaviour is right or wrong, ask yourself this question: If my partner could see me right now, doing what I’m doing, would they be upset?


They’re openly impressed by you

They ask lots of questions and are over-impressed by anything you say.

Another giveaway: they remember everything you’ve told them previously. We obsessively store even tiny details about a person when we have a crush on them.

If they laugh at everything you say, even the really lame jokes, they’re definitely into you.

They give you more attention than they give others

Some people flirt with everyone so it’s meaningless.

But if you get special attention – something extra that others don’t – it’s generally a sign they have a soft spot.

They’re awkward around you

When we’re highly attracted to someone, we often lose our cool. Our mouths get dry, we stutter, words come out wrong, we laugh a little too loudly. Avoiding eye contact is another signal: lots of people find it hard to make eye contact with someone they’re crushing on because they worry their eyes will give away how they’re feeling.

They try to stay close

Even if we’re too scared to make contact with someone we admire, we manoeuvre ourselves so at least we can watch them.

Be on the lookout for the person who seems to be always watching you but drops their eyes hastily when you look their way.

The person who always seems to be around but doesn’t talk to you is also likely to be admiring from afar.

They find excuses to touch you and talk to you

They want to borrow something they could easily have got from someone else, they touch something you’re wearing and want to know where you bought it. They walk past your desk at work to go to the water cooler when there’s a more direct route.

They’re the first to like anything you post on social media.

Sometimes within seconds of you posting it. Ego-boosting… or creepy, depending on how you feel about them.

If the answer is yes, stop doing it.

Control it

Recognise that it’s your limbic brain trying to dictate how you feel and behave.

Don’t give into the dreaming, fight it. Say,‘This is silly’.

If you need to change your habits, do it. Get coffee from a different shop if that sexy barista is starting to chat to you. Change gyms if that handsome stranger is returning your eye contact. Make sure you’re not left alone with your husband’s gorgeous new friend when you can flirt.

Once there is actual contact between the two of you – either in person or on social media – you’re heading into dangerous territory. Once a relationship is established, real attachment is possible.

Force yourself to see flaws

Of course, sometimes getting to know your crush is exactly what quashes it. The more you get to know someone you’ve idealised, the quicker they transform into a real person with annoying quirks and unsavoury personality traits you hadn’t counted on.

If that’s not happening, make yourself look for faults. Flip to focusing on any negatives you find.

Channel the energy in the right direction

One rather handy by product of having a crush is a heightened libido.

Direct that extra sexual energy towards your partner, while fantasising about the other person, and it can reinvigorate a stale sex life, making the crush less appealing.

Before you get morally indignant, know this: between 85 and 95 per cent of people fantasise about other people when they’re having sex with their partner.

You’re dreaming about your crush, your partner’s probably dreaming about theirs. It’s an effective way to deal with the monotony of monogamy.

Even if sex with a long-term partner is satisfying, there is no way to recreate the intensity you feel when you’re about to sleep with someone new. Fantasy is the next best thing.

(Emphasis on the words ‘about to’, by the way. In reality, first time sex is mediocre for lots of people.)

Do a relationship MOT

While it’s completely normal to find beautiful people attractive and be flattered if they pay attention to you, sometimes crushes are a sign there’s something lacking in your primary relationship.

If you’re bored, stuck in a sexual rut or otherwise unexcited or unsatisfied by your partner, you will obviously be more ripe for an affair.

If you’re thinking about the other person constantly and spending a great deal of time and energy trying to get close to them or to get them to notice you, you have a problem Houston.

Work out exactly what you’re getting from the crush

Is it a way of spicing up an otherwise dull work day? It might be a wake-up call to change jobs, not partners.

Do they give you lots of attention and your partner doesn’t? Time for a serious chat.

Wait it out

Crushes pass when they’re not nurtured. If the admiration only goes one way, we eventually tire of it not being reciprocated.

Or find someone else that tickles our fancy.

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