I had been working at a certain Philadelphia restaurant for several months before I finally talked to one of the guys on my team. He had always been there, but he was a good deal older than me and nothing had ever brought us together. One night, after a drunken work party, we took a long walk and realized that, although we didn’t have much in common, something about the way we talked created this zinging connection that neither of us could ignore.

As time went on, we went on lunches together and explored the city a few times, but he was married and I was in a happy two-year-old relationship. There were times when I was ready to drop everything for him, but I certainly didn’t want to cheat, and he had a family to worry about. The opportunity was there, and very tempting, but we continually reminded ourselves that it was not a good idea.

However, since then, I’ve realized that recognizing you have a crush, or recognizing your significant other has a crush, may actually be a positive experience that enhances your relationship, rather than destroying it.  Curious how having a crush can make you and your partner even better? Keep reading…

It Reminds You Of What You Have

A crush can be confusing, especially if you’re involved in a happy relationship, but sometimes it also serves as a reminder to everyone involved that there are other options. Sometimes other options are more attractive, but sometimes they only remind you of what you already have and why it’s so special. In my case, I felt a newfound appreciation for my boyfriend. My boyfriend and I got together because we have so many of the same interests and ideas. Even though my crush and I clicked, I learned that sometimes that click is a fleeting connection, and sometimes a click is a longer relationship that grows over time. My crush and I recognize how well we get along, and that’s a friendship I never want to let go of, but ultimately, my boyfriend is the one I want to explore with, have invested political debates with, and who I miss when all I want to do is talk at 3:00 AM. I found out quickly that my work crush liked to stick to what he knew, while I loved trying new things and bounding out of my comfort zone like I was on a moon bounce.

It Makes You More Honest & Loving

Recognizing that sometimes crushes happen allowed us to have a deeper understanding of each other, and it also taught us to reinforce our love for each other more often than we had before. Jealousy and fear are monsters that will ride a relationship until it dies, but if my boyfriend had gotten upset that I was creating a friendship with someone I knew from work, it would have ended our relationship. Instead, he allowed me to grow and explore (assuming I was behaving), without dishing out hard blows that would end in resentment on my part and rejection on his. We made it a point to not depend on each other being perfect all the time, and it added a level of realism to our relationship that created a platform for honesty and continued love. I think our honesty allowed us to grow together, recognize this opportunity, and remember everything we have going for us.

But, It Might Change Your Mind

A connection doesn’t have to lead to something more. We were able to foster our deep connection through getting to know each other gradually, and now, although nothing ever happened, I still consider my crush to be one of my best friends. On the other hand, maybe your crush is telling you that it’s time to move on with your current relationship. There’s nothing like sticking in a dead relationship for the sake of trying to make it work, and maybe this new guy is exactly the push you need to get away from a toxic significant other.

Positives aside, having a crush during a relationship is difficult, tricky, and stressful, but if you make it to the other side without hurting anyone, you can learn a lot about yourself and your partner. My crush helped me remember how wonderful a boyfriend I had, and that is something I still haven’t forgotten. It reminded me of how much I appreciated him, and my boyfriend and I have built a long-term connection that continuously builds and reforms as our lives change. To me, that is more important than the sweet and fleeting connection I had with my crush.

Crushes aren’t always something that you can control, but they are definitely something that you can explore cautiously. It can be dangerous to hold in pent-up emotions without an outlet – even if that outlet is a Sunday brunch to catch up once in a while! My relationship was reinforced and our fire was rekindled, thanks to my crush. For that, I will be forever grateful that I had the opportunity to explore a crush without feeling ashamed for a perfectly natural human emotion.