John* and I have been together for almost two years. We’re moving in together in just a few weeks, we have a cat, and we make each other laugh. I believe I am my best self in this relationship. I think of our future together, and can only imagine a happy partnership that I am so excited to be a part of for the rest of my life. But, I have a crush on his college roommate.
I met Steve* at a wedding a few weeks ago. He’s classically attractive: tall, blue eyes, dark haired, big smile. He lives across the country and has an incredibly sexy, brooding quality. We had that kind of instant chemistry that some people might call love at first sight, and I told him so: “I know I don’t know you that well, but I know I’m going to like you”. He smiled and told John later I was one of the few friends’ girlfriends he had legitimately enjoyed getting to know. I swooned.
Now I catch myself thinking about Steve all the time. Perusing his social media activity, listening to music I think he would like, and fantasizing about him at night. This is a full-blown, teenage-hormone, body-aching, heart-racing crush.
At first this horrified me. Is this like cheating on John? How can I be this attracted to one of his friends? Was I ever this attracted to him? Was my whole relationship just a cruel ruse to introduce me to my true soulmate?
Then I got over myself.
I am a scientist, and as such I know that humans are animals; hardwired to lust after numerous individuals so as to better propagate the species and continue the human race. If I didn’t have these feelings while in a committed relationship I (and all humans) would quite literally be dead. However, as a member of a further evolved species I have the capacity to identify my lust for someone as just that: the lust that has occurred in billions of brains countless times before and ultimately led to the population we have today. But this rush is a lot of fun, and I revel in it.
I think by letting myself experience this excitement over a new attractive friend is really just solidifying my love for John. We live in a society where sexual fantasy and hook-up culture are openly discussed and celebrated. It’s difficult for those thoughts and feelings not to carry over into adult life as well. However, these carnal surface desires are nothing compared to true love. I’ve cried with John.
I’ve shared my dreams and fears with him. He is the first man to see me as I am and love me anyway. In every other romantic relationship I’ve tried so hard to make it work and it somehow always falls apart. But this is effortless. People say “when you know, you know”, and I finally understand what that means. Teenage dreams are a lot of fun, but finding someone to grow old with is a wild and beautiful high that will only get better with age.
*Names have been changed.