How can I deal with a “crush” in a relationship?

I’ve been in a long distance relationship with my girlfriend for just over a year. This past week she admitted to me that she has feelings for another guy. She says it’s “just a crush” but I don't know how to cope with it.

How should I deal with this?

Lauren Ostrowski, MA, LPC, NCC, DCC, CCTP
Lauren Ostrowski, MA, LPC, NCC, DCC, CCTP
I tailor my therapeutic approach to each client's strengths and goals

Thanks for writing in. Several things come to mind:

  • I don't know how you are communicating, but there is a great deal of difference between communicating through videoconferencing compared to text message when discussing subjects like this. Being able to hear and/or see each other will help you to be able to gauge a lot of the emotions connected to what is going on.
  • Are you in a place where you can ask your girlfriend questions about this crush and actually listen to her answers? If you can listen non-defensively and ask questions about what is actually going on (kind of like an investigative reporter might), you are likely to hear about her experience, thoughts, feelings, etc., so you can actually see what the crush is like for her and how you want to react to that.
  • Then you could see if she is willing to listen to your questions and answer them for you.
  • Another tip: Find out when is a good time to have this conversation. If you are talking to your girlfriend after she just worked a 10 hour shift and she is frustrated about that, it is likely that the emotion will transfer to the conversation that you are having even though it doesn't have anything to do with that.
  • Find a way to keep yourself grounded and centered during the conversation. Notice your feet on the floor or your hips in the chair. Mindfully play with an object or something like a paperclip or a pen. Doing this mindfully (by being aware of your senses) will help you to not feel so overwhelmed during the conversation.
  • After you have more details, communicate about what it is that you want or wish for. It is often easier to hear and discuss as opposed to talking about something that you need.
  • Remember that while anger is a very real emotion, there is always something else under it. Be aware of what else could be there: hurt, disappointment, betrayal, fear, etc.
The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal, as if you want to hurt or kill yourself or someone else, or are in crisis, call 800-273-8255 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week), call 911, or proceed to your local emergency room.

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