There is a belief that many people seem to hold that when a person enters a relationship their attraction for all other people should suddenly cease to exist. If their partner happens to notice an attractive person or express that they interacted with someone interesting, it is taken as a criticism or indication of not being good enough.
The truth is that simply being in a relationship doesn’t change the fact that it is natural for everyone to feel attraction to others. Even when we are in committed relationships. Attraction is something that is generated naturally in us. It isn’t a choice. We don’t actively make the decision, “I’m going to be attracted to that person.”
Think of it like this. You have an apple pie and a blueberry pie. You can like them both but choose to eat just one. It doesn’t mean you don’t still have a taste for the other. Simply knowing you still like the taste of blueberry pie is perfectly natural and not an indication that the apple pie is not good enough.
What we do control is how we respond to those feelings. There is a difference between having attraction to someone and choosing to act on it. Acting can mean anything from commenting, to flirting, to pursuing an emotional and/or physical relationship. Those things are choices and unless they are something you’ve agreed to allow in your relationship, should not be pursued.
However, the simple act of feeling attraction should not be over-interpreted. If you assume that your partners attraction to someone else is because of either your own level attractiveness or their attraction to you, you are setting yourself up for failure. Attraction isn’t something that turns on or off that way. Believing your partner experiences attraction to others only because of a shortcoming in you means you’ll always be feeling less than and insecure.
What is important is actions. How does your partner respond to their feelings of attraction? Do they pursue it? Do they use it to directly put you down? Again, those actions aren’t okay and are red flags. But if your partner simply notes the attraction and moves on, then that is a respectful response. It shows that your partner chooses you.
If your partner is behaving in a way that bothers you, talk to them. While you may know that attraction still exists, you may not like having it mentioned every time it happens. Tell your partner. Let them know that you realize it happens and it feels better if they don’t share it when it does. They may think they are being open and honest with you. Like all things, discuss what works for the two of you.
Don’t get in the losing battle of expecting all other attraction to die when you enter into a relationship. It is a recipe for trouble. When you push to control something that isn’t controllable everyone ends up feeling unhappy. It often brings about the very result you are trying to avoid. Pay attention to your partners actions. How they treat you is what matters.