What It Means When You Find Yourself Fantasizing About Someone Else While In A Relationship

When you’re in a long-term relationship, it’s foolish to think things will be smooth sailing 24/7. It’s natural to go through ups and downs, to experience questions and doubts, and to feel ready to check out. Nine times out of 10, these things are temporary and resolve with time and good communication. However, when it’s happening, it can be overwhelming. You may start fantasizing about someone else or being in another relationship and wonder what it means for your current situation. We’re here to help with that.

While 98% of men and 80% of women admit to fantasizing about someone other than their partner, per the Journal of Sex Research, it’s actually incredibly common and not as big of a problem as you might think.

When fantasizing about other people commonly happens

  • When in a fight with your partner
  • When you’re feeling emotionally neglected/ignored
  • When your sex life gets stale or begins to die
  • When you think your partner might have checked out
  • When you meet someone you connect with
  • When you’re feeling bored in your relationship
  • When you know you want to break up but don’t know how

Why you might be fantasizing about someone else when you’re in a relationship

  1. You miss the excitement of the honeymoon phase. When you first get into a relationship, things are hot and heavy. You want to jump each other’s bones 24/7 and your lives are filled with passion and intensity. The longer you’re together, the more that fades. A new comfort takes its place, but it can feel disappointing at times. If you start fantasizing about someone else while in a relationship, it could be that you’re trying to claw back those early feelings.
  2. Things have become stale in your relationship. Sadly, sometimes we become complacent in relationships and forget that they need to be nurtured to continue to thrive. If you and your partner have stopped making each other and your romance a priority, things may go downhill quickly. You have to make time for each other and for keeping the love alive.
  3. It’s a healthy way to use your imagination. Imagining yourself with other people or in different scenarios is a great way to explore different circumstances you’ve never experienced in real life. Maybe you wouldn’t even want to experience the things you fantasize about. However, they’re fun to explore inside your head.
  4. You’re attracted to a sexy celebrity. Fantasizing about someone else when you’re in a relationship might not be about a person you’ve met or even know. Maybe you just watched an actor in a movie with a hot sex scene and that got you going. When you go to bed that night, you can’t help thinking about if it was you in that scene. Hey, we’ve all done it.
  5. You met someone who’s piqued your interest. Hey, it happens. It doesn’t mean you want to leave your partner for them, but you can’t deny that you’re intrigued. It’s much safer to fantasize about this and get it out of your system than to act on it and ruin your relationship.
  6. The normal sexual triggers that used to turn you on no longer do. When the stuff that used to get you off stops being effective, it’s normal for your mind to wander. You try to think of different things to get you going again. And sometimes that means imagining being with someone else. It happens.
  7. You’re interested in having an open relationship. It’s possible that you’re fantasizing about someone else outside of your relationship because you’re interested in opening things up. If this is more than a passing fad and you think this might be the case, it’s important to talk to your partner honestly about this.
  8. You’re beginning to fall out of love with your partner. This is unlikely but it’s possible. If there are other signs that your relationship may be over, don’t ignore them. You’ll do yourself and your partner a disservice by pretending things are fine when they’re really not.

Does this mean you need to break up?

Of course not. Just because you’re in a relationship with and committed to one person doesn’t mean you suddenly find other people unattractive. That’s not how life works. Whether your interest in the person you’re fantasizing about outside of your relationship is someone you feel sexual, emotional, or intellectual attraction to, it’s a completely normal human instinct.

As Dr. Elyssa H. Barbash told Romper, the practice of fantasizing is generally completely harmless when not masking underlying issues and isn’t something to worry about. After all, thoughts aren’t actions, so unless you’re acting on the ideas that are running through your head or are hiding something from your partner, you don’t have anything to feel bad about.

“As long as you feel connected and stimulated in your primary romantic relationship, fantasies are a functional part of a long-term relationship,” she explained.

Bolde has been a source of dating and relationship advice for single women around the world since 2014. We combine scientific data, experiential wisdom, and personal anecdotes to provide help and encouragement to those frustrated by the journey to find love. Follow us on Instagram @bolde_media or on Facebook @BoldeMedia