"I'm a big fan of that. I think that flirting and
crushing is a great way to fuel your sexual energy and you can
use that in your relationship. It makes you feel sexy, it
makes you feel flirty."
interview with Dr. Berman, where the mom of three dishes on
making time for intimacy, why all couples should have sex dates,
and what to do when the kids are onto you.
I've been working out at my local Y for the last decade and know
dozens of members by sight, if not by name. Several years ago, I
noticed a handsome man a little older than myself. He was tall, fit
and had thick, dark-blond hair. I'd seen him running on the
treadmill or lifting weights. Let's just say that I noticed he was
taking good care-very good care-of his physical self.
One day when I was running on the track, he fell into step with
me. "Mind if I run with you? You look like you're going about my
pace." We eased into conversation as we ran together. He was funny,
self-effacing and sounded like a good dad-the kinds of things I
find sexy in a man. By the end of our run, I had a full-blown crush
In the following weeks, I took special care before I went to the
gym, applying mascara and lipstick (which I would sweat off) and
made sure I wore my cutest workout gear. When I saw him, I'd feel
tongue-tied and silly, and hoped we'd get a chance to talk again. I
entertained fantasies about him (although in my mind I conveniently
ignored the fact I'm happily married) and even dreamt about him a
couple of times.
Alas, after a few months, he disappeared. Maybe he moved away.
Maybe he started working out at a different gym. Maybe I scared him
off! But when I shared this story with my friends, none were
shocked. Several admitted to experiencing similar crushes of their
own-though none of us had acted on them.
Sure, we think of crushes as something young girls or teens
experience, but grown women can and do get them, too. It's one
thing to be on Team Jacob or Team Edward, but what about the crush
you get on someone you actually know-say a co-worker, neighbor or
fellow parent? Is it a sign that your marriage is in trouble? That
you're immature? That you're doomed to cheat on your mate?
Not to worry-having a crush isn't a character flaw but rather
simply part of being human, say experts. "A crush is about letting
you know that you're alive and well and your heart still thumps,"
says relationship expert Dr. Gilda Carle, author of 99
Prescriptions for Fidelity.
"Think of crushes as entertainment-they add excitement to life,
and as long as you don't confuse the fantasy with reality, they're
harmless," says Tina B. Tessina (aka "Dr. Romance"),
psychotherapist and author of Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting
about the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage. "It's usually
an indication that something is missing, and the crush is a clue to
what it is. Often, there's a forbidden aspect that lends
excitement. In teens, it's emotional practice for later real-life
experience, but in women, it tends to be exercising something
that's latent or lacking."
Former Woodridge resident Stephanie Elliot, mom of three, admits
to an infatuation with her son's baseball coach. "I had a crush on
this guy all through the baseball season when my son was in third
grade, and unfortunately, my son only played baseball for one
season, but then this guy, who I'll call Jim (because that's his
name!), ended up showing up at the basketball games every year
thereafter because he was an opposing coach. My husband coached my
son's team," says Elliot.
What caused the attraction? "I had a crush on him because he was
tall. I love tall men-my husband is 6-foot-5," says Elliot. "I am
automatically drawn to tall guys. And he had dark hair. And he was
just cute-as in Jim from "The Office" cute, but not dorky like that
cute, more like athletic cute."
Elliot admits she was always hoping to see her crush at athletic
events, and her husband figured out pretty quickly she thought the
coach was hot stuff. "I'm sure I told my husband that I thought the
baseball coach was darling!" she laughs. "Or I probably offered one
too many times to take my son to baseball practice and since my
husband knows I loathe sports, he figured out my ulterior
The thrill of having a crush-and the hope and anticipation of
seeing that person-can break you out of what I call a Mom Rut. Like
many stay-at-home moms, most days find me makeup-free, wearing
jeans and with a messy ponytail. My focus is on my kids, not my
looks. But my crush meant that I spent some extra time on me, which
made me feel attractive and confident. It meant I spent more time
at the gym, too. And it added an extra spark to my marriage, which
benefited my husband even if he didn't know why.
"It's simple-fantasy is a very important part of life," says
Carle. "If we don't fantasize we're missing out on a lot. …Very
often people like to fantasize about other partners when they're in
bed. The number one complaint among married couples is boredom, so
to alleviate that, you can find somebody to add some spice to your
life-not in reality but in make-believe. Little children like to
play make-believe but we seem to have forgotten some of the play
element that keeps us alive and keeps our heart thumping."
A crush is one thing, acting on it is another. If you're in a
happy relationship, it's better to indulge your fantasies in your
mind than risk "going too far" and hurting your marriage (or, at
the least, embarrassing yourself.) "Remember, in real life,
following up on a crush usually leads to pain and disappointment,"
says Tessina. "Part of what makes a crush so enticing is it
involves only your fantasies.
"If you think about it, why you're attracted and what your
longing is about, you might be able to bring more of that into your
real-life relationship. For example, if your crush is at the gym,
you might want to ask your husband to be your personal trainer and
transfer the crush to your partner," says Tessina. "Or add some
role-playing to sex to spice it up."
Carle says: "Crushes are safe and healthy, and you would expect
that. But if the line is crossed, trouble can erupt. Ask yourself
one question: 'Would I be comfortable if my husband was doing the
same thing with somebody?'"
So, should you share your crush with your partner? It depends.
Elliot's husband wasn't threatened at all about her infatuation.
"It was a harmless crush and playful, and I think my husband got a
kick out of teasing me about it," says Elliot.
Sharing her crush with her husband turned her infatuation into a
shared secret, which strengthened their bond. Not every partner
wants to know about the crushes you have, though, which is why it's
usually smarter to giggle over your crush with a girlfriend or keep
it to yourself. Think about your husband and how he'd react before
you "reveal all."
My husband knows that I drool over Daniel Craig and Johnny Depp,
but he wouldn't want to hear that I "have the hots," as my mom
would say, for someone I actually know. So I keep my crushes to
myself, and only "act" on them with Erik. That's good news for me
and my marriage-and my husband.
Kelly James-Enger still checks out the guys at the gym but currently lives crush-free (except for Daniel Craig and Johnny Depp) in Downers Grove, which means she’s reverted to her ponytail and makeup-free ways while caring for her two kids.
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