Dear Neil: I am in a stable dating relationship, which I very much sought and wanted. But after two years of living together, I find myself looking at all the hot men that come into the restaurant I work at, wondering whether I should make myself available in order to date them. Recently I was asked by one such man for my phone number, and I told him that I was in a steady relationship and wasn’t available—but then I thought about it for days, thinking that perhaps I had made a mistake by turning him down.
There is nothing wrong with the man I have been seeing over the past two years. He is kind, generous, affectionate, loyal, trustworthy and easy to be with, and yes, we have broached the subject of getting married at some point down the line. So why am I looking at other men—and sometimes salivating over them? Is this a sign that I’m not ready to settle down, or that perhaps I’m with the wrong man?
Attracted to Others in San Francisco
Dear San Francisco: If you’re alive and you have a pulse, you will find yourself sometimes erotically attracted to other people. Almost everyone does—even those in committed relationships and/or marriages. Even older people who have been married forever. Of course, it takes self-restraint to not act on those impulses and desires, because doing so would seriously violate the trust and closeness you have with your current partner.
What you’re leaving out of this discussion is what real life feels like in a stable intimate relationship. Sooner or later, the hotness of a new relationship diminishes. There’s something about daily life—laundry, paying bills, cleaning up, mowing lawns, shopping for food, cooking meals, handling broken windows or torn screens—that is decidedly unsexy. Almost everybody experiences this, and that’s when people talk about having to work at romance, closeness and connection—often for the first time in their relationship—because it takes very little effort when you’re courting each other.
People fantasize about other hotties largely because their relationship has lost some of it’s romance and erotic allure, and a hot stranger is easy to project your fantasies onto. But you don’t know this dreamy stranger, and you don’t know whether he would also be kind, affectionate, loyal, trustworthy and easy to get along with. And even if he were, once you get to know him and settle into a more stable domestic routine with him, you’ll likely wind up with the same feelings you have right now, and even then you’d still be attracted to other men.
You’re describing your two-year relationship as appealing and desirable, so you have something worth fighting for and preserving. It would be a shame for you to throw away a great relationship for someone you don’t know—and who may not measure up to the man you already have.