I’m attracted to someone other than my partner. Now what?

Uh-oh. It’s undeniable. Their arm brushes against you in the lift at work. You exchange a meaningful glance at a cafe.

And the butterflies start to erupt throughout your body. Eek – you’ve developed a crush on someone – and it’s DEFINITELY not the person you are currently in a relationship with! So, what do you do?

Australia is currently gripped by Married At First Sight, and who can look away when you’ve got all the ingredients for high octane reality TV drama; romance, hope, sex, cheating, and hopefully (!) true love?

We’ve asked relationship expert Alina Rose to use her trained eye to uncover what’s really going with the MAFS couples, and to identify the ways we at home can all learn a little something along the way. Here’s what she’s seen from this week’s episodes …

This week on Married At First Sight, we are bearing witness to another cheating scandal, where Carolina and ex-groom Daniel (WHY is he still on the show?), are running around behind Carolina’s long-suffering “husband” Dion’s back, chinking cocktails, pumping iron and making out in seedy fire-escapes.

As far as the playbook of attraction outside of your relationship goes, this is what NOT to do.

First of all, it’s hugely bad karma. You hurt and lie to someone, and it WILL come back to you. Fact.

Second of all, it’s selfish. Deceiving someone at the expense of your own pleasure actually erodes your character, diminishing your empathy and in the long run, hurting your friendships, relationships and reputation.

However, being attracted to other people outside of your relationship is quite a normal thing.

In fact, in one study published in Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy, almost 70 per cent of participants said they’d experienced some kind of attraction toward someone other than their partner while in a long-term relationship!

So what does this mean, and how do you navigate your feelings with your heart, integrity and relationship intact?

Accept that this is happening

Allow it because it’s normal and admit that you don’t need to act on it. These attractions are based on primal impulses in our brain, which track historical data like someone’s scent and facial proportions in our cellular memory.

In other words, this person can remind you of someone from the past, like your first grade crush, or a movie star … and send the same signals to the brain, deceiving you that THIS person is the same person as the one your fantasy self is attracted to. Your brain is playing tricks on you! Abort now!

Look INTO your relationship, not outside of it

A survey of 5000 people in the UK found that the top five reasons for women to stray are: the lack of emotional intimacy (84 per cent) and lack of communication between partners (75 per cent).

I’m attracted to someone other than my partner. Now what?

Sure, I admit that Dion and Carolina don’t have the same easy chemistry (or love of gym) as her and Daniel, but she did NOTHING to nourish her connection with Dion, or find commonalities.

Perhaps, had she put more effort in building her intimacy with Dion, Daniel’s energy would not have found such an easy entry point into their ‘marriage’.

Of course, in real life scenarios, you are with someone you CHOSE to be with – not a TV groom – so focus on having a heart to heart with your partner, and bring adventure, connection and conversation back to focus between you, if it’s been lacking lately … Bring in the adrenaline!

Bring in the fun!

When we try new or thrilling things, go ballroom dancing, car racing or even watch scary movies together with our SO, it releases endorphins that are similar to when you fall in love.

They help you see your partner with fresh eyes. They ignite your sex life. It’s like you’re dating again – woo hoo!

So, do NOT stray on your partner (ever, ha), at least until you’ve jumped out of a plane with them, or done volunteer work, or went cage-diving with sharks. Deal?

Bring on the self care

According to the same UK survey, tiredness (32 per cent) is another reason why women cheat. Our emotional reserves are depleted, so we look for a kick elsewhere. This is perhaps why Carolina is not attracted to Dion – his lack of self care or healthy habits do not inspire or motivate her arousal in any shape or form.

This is NOT an excuse to cheat … but I think a lot of us are exasperated at our partners being … too much on the couch. Both partners staying fit and healthy is great for mood, feel good love hormones – and a better sex life! So lace up your runners … then share a bubble bath after.

But what if you can’t help it?

What if, like Carolina and Daniel, you just can’t stay away from this mysterious stranger in a cafe (or a colleague at work)? Please go repeat steps one to four. Have a heart to heart with your current partner, get mentally and physically aligned with better personal habits, and go on crazy new adventures together.

If, after all this, you still can’t find the spark, then perhaps it’s time to call it a day. End things properly, and go pursue this new connection with a clean conscience.

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In most cases however, these attractions are a fleeting thing, nothing more than a flutter of hormones that pass, or end in tears – and are never worth tearing up homes or committed relationships. If you follow these guidelines, you will get the same rush with your current partner. And your wink with the cute barista will remain just that.

This article originally appeared in Body + Soul and was reproduced with permission

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