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Sexual attraction and the "other"

Being attracted to someone else

Itís the stuff of movies and novels, nightmares and dreams, and itís a major reason for divorce. Being attracted to someone else besides your mate is the fuel for arguments and jealousy, it can cost you your marriage, your relationship with your kids, your job, your conscience, ruin your business, and it can even cost you your lifeís savings and a good chunk of your income for the rest of your life.

Well, almost! Actually, being attracted to someone else rarely does any of the above by itself. In order for it to have power in your life, being attracted to someone else must have one additional element before it can create havoc, and that loss of personal control.

Being attracted to someone else doesnít stop when you get engaged, when you are married, when you/she is pregnant, when you have one kid or a dozen, or even when the kids go off to college. Even if the hormones have been completely obliterated, there are still going to be attractions to others for the personal qualities they have.  

For most of our lives, we find ourselves in periodic situations where we discover that we are attracted to others. Most of these attractions come and go and nothing further happens. We can literally meet hundreds of people per day and in that course, we are guaranteed to run into some wonderfully attractive people. Time, timing, and circumstances alone prevent things from going any further. 

When personal attraction goes awry

Where people run into trouble is when external circumstances donít stand in the way, and we choose to allow things to go farther. That action doesnít necessarily even mean anything that would be defined as wrong such as making a pass, a suggestion, or creating an opportunity to go even farther. 

It can simply be the process by where you intentionally or inadvertently allow yourself to expand the thought process beyond where it should go. People rarely discuss such thoughts and feelings with their spouse for obvious reasons, and so they often feel they are being quite coy. 

Can anyone truly know what another person is thinking? Surprisingly, the answer is yes and this is particularly true of a spouse who knows you well. Remember, your spouse has been here with you before and theyíve seen you in action first hand. (S)he recognizes the look in your eyes, the way you move, and the little things that canít even be described in words. 

Most of us of course have a threshold limit that we accept in our spouse. Anyone who doesnít understand that our spouse would find someone else attractive and vice versa, isnít living in the real world. But when the spouse crosses that line of attraction to a place where they are at least mentally acting on that attraction, bells and whistles are going off out of self-preservation. 

Not too long ago, there was an Expedia commercial where the husband planning the trip considered and then imagined surfing lessons for he and his wife on their vacation. Unknown to her, he then chose horseback riding when he imagined the furtive looks being traded between his wife and the buff surfing instructor. He didnít imagine her in bed or even suggestive comments on her part. He just knew the language of her eyes. He acted out of self-preservation by choosing something else. 

Personal control is something that we are hopefully taught and learn as kids and teenagers. When we donít, we learn that there are consequences to our actions and as children, those consequences are relatively pretty small. Getting a booboo or time-out in the corner is about as harsh as it got.

As adults, we sometimes forget that personal control is something that we must exercise in our own minds as well as our actions. When we forget these lessons, we find that there are still consequences, and we only wish they were as fast to heal as the consequences of our childhood.


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