Science Says It's Totally Cool to Have a Crush if You're in a Relationship


If you're in a serious relationship and crushing on someone who's not your partner, a new study has some good news for you:

1998 one-hit wonder pop songstress Jennifer Paige was right!

Having a crush is NBD.


Crushes aren't just for high schoolers anymore. The joint study, which was authored by researchers from Columbia University, Indiana University and the University of Kentucky-Lexington, was published in the Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy earlier this month. It's based on Internet survey responses from 160 women who ranged in age from 19 to 56 years old. Although most of the women were either married or in long-term relationships with men, nearly 70% reported having crushes outside their primary relationships. 

That such a large majority would admit to being attracted to someone who isn't their partner might seem surprising. But it makes sense when you consider past research, which has determined that having a crush on someone else while you're in a relationship is actually totally unavoidable. 

Additionally, a majority of the women surveyed indicated that their crushes were on people they worked with, which also makes sense. A study in Psychological Science earlier this month suggested we become attracted to people the more time we spend with them, and the hazel-eyed IT guy who fixes your work laptop certainly falls into that category.


This is actually good for relationships. Before you go out and start interrogating your partner about those texts to their work spouse, it's important to note that these findings don't mean all serious relationships are screwed. In fact, the women in the survey reported that having an outside crush actually improved their relationships. 

"The majority of women reported the crush did not impact their relationship," the researchers noted. "Participants also reported that these crushes improved their desire for their partner."

The women who noted marked improvements in sexual desire acknowledged that they tended to "funnel" the desire for their crush into their encounters with their long-term squeeze. Put another way, not having sex with the people they crushed on actually made them want to have sex with their partners more. 

While this might seem to suggest that lots of couples out there are having unfortunate "crush-projecting" sex in which one partner is constantly picturing James from Marketing, we're not going to go down that road. Instead, we're going to take this study for what it really is: an excuse to revisit a classic '90s jam.

h/t Bloomberg