What does it mean when your mind wanders? (Picture: Metro)

The excited butterflies, the nervous giggles, the wondering, about what, or whether, they think about you.

Crushing on someone can be as exhilarating as it is frustrating, whether it’s the hot guy you see on your daily commute or the work colleague who talks to you about the books you both like.

But what about crushes that appear when you’re already in a relationship?

Asking For A Friend is a new series where we answer the questions that you’ve always wanted to ask, and today, we’re tackling a big one: is it okay to have crushes on other people when you’re in a relationship?

Those fluttery feelings, while all still there, are likely to be shrouded in guilt, or at the very least a sense of confusion. 

James*, 25, from Manchester, has been with his partner for around two and a half years. 

Although it’s only happened a couple of times throughout his relationship, he feels a lot of guilt when he finds himself developing a crush on someone else. 

‘Despite not acting on my last crush, I felt guilty that my partner wasn’t the only person I had feelings for,’ he tells Metro.co.uk. 

‘Even though I suppose it’s just a natural human emotion.’

James isn’t alone. 

Long-term relationships can become a bit stale – could crushes liven things back up? (Picture: Getty Images/fStop)

Freya*, 23, is happily engaged, but that doesn’t stop her from crushing on certain friends she finds hot. 

‘There’s one girl who I have a crush on, and she definitely has a crush on me,’ she says.

If she was single, she’d definitely give it a shot, which is something her partner is aware of.

As a bisexual woman who hasn’t had much chance to explore that side of her sexuality, Freya says she’s more prone to crushing on women.

‘I sometimes feel like it might have been nice if I could have explored sex with women more,’ she says.

‘So, I think I’m more susceptible to crushing on girls, but I think it’s normal.’

James says he’s more likely to get crushes when he’s feeling dissatisfied in his relationship.

‘My most recent one made me have a serious think about whether I want to be with my partner or not,’ he says. 

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However, it’s also down to a yearning for the excitement of something new – or the fear of never having that again.

‘It’s like I can get bored of my relationship, not necessarily in terms of sex but more in terms of the daunting feeling of only being romantically involved with one person for a long period of time, almost like I miss the excitement of meeting new people romantically,’ he notes.

Even if it’s common to have crushes when you’re in a relationship, this often comes with worries. Does crushing on new people mean you’re a bad significant other, or that your relationship is doomed?

Is it normal to have crushes while you’re in a relationship?

According to Maria Sullivan, a relationship expert and vice president of Dating.com, the short answer is yes: it’s actually completely normal to develop small crushes while you’re in a relationship.

‘In relationships, especially long-term relationships, it is not uncommon to develop a “crush” on another person while you’re with your current partner,’ she tells Metro.co.uk. 

‘Whether this other person is someone you see often, like a fellow gym-goer, a colleague, or a neighbour, or anyone else that you meet, like a friend of a friend, having a small crush is normal and shouldn’t cause you to feel like your current relationship should be over.’

In fact, she says, once relationships exit the honeymoon phase and move into a more comfortable day-to-day routine, it’s normal to crave that initial spark that you felt at the start of the relationship. 

Crushes might indicate there’s something lacking in your relationship (Picture: Getty Images/fStop)

For some people, it could be as simple as enjoying positive attention from someone who isn’t your partner.

‘I tend to get crushes on people who I know, like a colleague or friend of a friend,  especially if I get the vibe that they’re maybe crushing on me too,’ says Louise*, 24. 

‘Sometimes I can mistake someone being friendly for flirting though, which can mislead me into having a crush.’

For Louise, it’s nothing more than harmless fun. ‘I’m a natural flirt, I always have been and I love the excitement of it, I can’t deny that,’ she says. 

‘But  I would never act on it.’

Should crushes signify the end of your relationship?

Ongoing or frequent crushes could signify that there’s something missing in your relationship.

However, Maria says, this doesn’t necessarily mean that your relationship should end.

‘A crush could be a result of something like meeting someone who you relate to over common interests that you and your partner don’t share,’ says Maria.

‘Are those common interests (or a lack of them) critical enough to make or break your relationship? 

‘Take a moment to think about what exactly it is about your crush that entices you. 

‘If your current partner doesn’t have the same qualities, is that non-negotiable for you, or do they have other qualities that are more important to you in a relationship?’

Crushes can become problematic when they cross over from the surface level to the emotional level.

‘While there is nothing wrong with occasional flirty banter, which can be even healthy for you and your relationship, deeper feelings can sneak up on you,’ says Maria.

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‘If deeper feelings develop, your crush should be a cause for concern.’

Maria says it’s important to think about how you feel when you’re with your crush, and compare that to how you feel with your current partner. 

‘Take a moment to think about whether you need and want to feel that way with your partner,’ she says. 

‘If those feelings are more important to you than other aspects of a relationship, it might be time to move on. 

‘If not, remember that it’s normal to develop an innocent crush, even if you’ve already found your match.’

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