Office crushes. Everybody has one. Whether you’re single or in a committed relationship, there’s always that one person in the office you can’t help having a crush on, occasionally staring at, and maybe even flirting with.
Singles are guilt-free when it comes to a crush on a co-worker, but those in committed relationships may be guilt-ridden. After all, how can you be attracted to someone when you’re already passionately in love with someone else?
Contrary to your typical relationship advice, a study published in The Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy found that not only is an office crush normal behaviour, but it may also benefit your already existing romantic relationship.
According to Lizette Borreli in an article for Medical Daily, “It is inevitable to be attracted to someone because of how the brain works.”
A 2011 study says that looking at another person causes the brain to process visual stimuli. In short, we appreciate (or don’t) another person’s attractiveness. For people in committed relationships, this reaction is often revised, called “derogating alternatives,” which makes other people seem less attractive, according to Medical Daily.
So how do office crushes affect committed relationships?
Sexual health researchers from Columbia University, Indiana University, and the University of Kentucky-Lexington distributed an Internet survey to 160 highly-educated 19- to 56-year-old women.
They were asked open-ended questions about their significant others and their sexual attractions. Most of the women were in long-term relationships or married to men.
The researchers found that although they were already in committed relationships, 70 percent of them admitted to having a crush beyond their significant other.
A good majority revealed these crushes to be people they worked with but did not worry about the crush’s impact on their already existing relationship.
According to the researchers, the “participants also reported that these crushes improved their desire for their partner.”
They described it as an “emotional transference” where the women placed the increasing sexual desires of their crush onto their significant other.
But there is a caveat: you still have to consider the feelings of your significant other. Even if these feelings towards a crush aren’t acted upon, there may be a negative impact depending on whether your significant other believes having a crush is a form of cheating.
A 2013 study found that some participants, primarily women more than men, believe that their partner forming an emotional bond with someone else counted as cheating.
So what does this mean? Having an office crush is your brain’s normal reaction to someone attractive. You wouldn’t exactly dump your boyfriend because he says he finds a celebrity attractive, right?
Finding them attractive doesn’t mean you no longer have feelings for your significant other; however, if you act on those feelings or form an emotional bond with them similar to what you and your significant other have, it may be time to step back and re-consider your true feelings.