Social Question

deni's avatar

Is it acceptable to fall for someone else when you are in a relationship?

Asked by deni (22853points) June 3rd, 2012

I will elaborate. You are in a relationship, and suddenly you meet someone (let’s say, a new coworker) and you hit it off platonically at first. Maybe it starts just as a friend crush, but it progresses to the point you could see yourself happily in a relationship with this person. If at some point you realize that theycould potentially make you happier than the person you are currently with, is it acceptable to break up with the person you are dating and move on to this new flame? There is no cheating at any point, just friendly flirting. I guess the question is more: Should you keep your options open, even when you’re in a relationship?

Is it unacceptable? On one hand, I understand loyalty and not sizing up every person you meet for how they might be for you to date. On the other hand, you have to make yourself happy. So many people find themselves in relationships that drag along, get them down, but they’re in a rut and it’s hard to get out. So shouldn’t you be able to keep your options open?

Would you end a relationship to start a new one with someone you felt was better for you? How would you feel if your SO broke up with you for this reason? How soon are you supposed to tell your current SO that you want to end it with them and start anew with someone else, without jumping the gun? What do you think?

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25 Answers

augustlan's avatar

Assuming I’m not married or otherwise very bound the the current SO, I would end the current relationship, and then pursue the new one. I’d most likely be honest about my reasons for breaking up, too, but do it gently.

Fly's avatar

Both options are acceptable here, and I can understand why someone would choose either. As long as you’re not being dishonest with your current SO, I see no problem with deciding to try a relationship with this new person at all. If I thought that this other person would make me happier, then I would probably opt to try things out with them and let the other relationship go. Tell your SO that you don’t see a long-term relationship with them going anywhere, and that you’re ready to move on to someone else; just be aware that this will most likely be a sensitive subject in addition to the initial touchiness of a breakup alone.

BosM's avatar

You should end one relationship before beginning another, cheating is not just “physical”.

If you are unhappy in your existing relationship, you should have a good understanding of why that is. If you and your SO are not on the same page as to what’s important or don’t want the same things then make the break up about that. If your SO feels the same way then it won’t hurt so much.

You don’t need to get into the details about your new love interest, that’s unecessary. Breaking up is hard enough, even if your current SO knows it’s the right thing to do it may still be painful. Announcing a new SO doesn’t seem right.

dontmindme's avatar

Only end a relationship if it isn’t right for you, but never for someone new.

or so I’ve been told

I think most people fall for others at some point in their life when they are in a committed relationship, but that doesn’t mean the other person will be better for you. Newness wears off and you will eventually find flaws. If you are certain the current SO isn’t right for you, then end the relationship for that reason, not because you found someone you think might be better.

deni's avatar

@dontmindme That was exactly what I thought. It’s really hard to compare a new exciting person in your life with a comfortable partner that you’ve been with for years. It’s apples and oranges. (I tried to put this in my question but couldn’t find a way to word it, so thanks)

But I also think that, like I said, you have to make yourself happy, and you only live once, and you could die tomorrow, so no, you shouldn’t jump the gun and hop from relationship to relationship just with the snap of a finger or the wink of an eye but you should also never miss an opportunity to make yourself truly happy. I guess one of the hard parts too is judging if it’s worth it.

jca's avatar

@deni: Is this question relating to a real situation in your life, or hypothetical?

ohmyword's avatar

I lived this situation… and it was a rough time. I don’t think there’s a right answer in a hypothetical situation. You never know until it’s over really. But I do agree with @dontmindme‘s answer

deni's avatar

@jca Just hypothetical! I am though reflecting back on my past relationships, trying to think if I’d ever have sacrificed a long term, at least semi-solid relationship for something new just like that….I think, towards the end of my last relationship, though there was no bad blood and things were for the most part good, if someone new had come along that I really really hit it off with, I probably would have said “Look, I’m sorry, things were coming to an end anyhow and I really want to pursue something that could be really amazing for me….” Yikes. Though actually SAYING that to someone ever doesn’t sound so enticing. But, you gotta go for it. I think.

augustlan's avatar

Just to clarify, I do agree that the new person isn’t necessarily going to be a better fit for you and you shouldn’t break up a serious relationship over a possibility. However, if the new person has made you realize that there’s something missing in the current relationship and you’re unhappy about that and don’t see it as a correctable problem… leave the relationship.

ohmyword's avatar

Is it ever a good idea to dive into a new relationship after leaving a long-term one anyway? Is it healthy?

Trillian's avatar

“Keeping your options open” cancels out “being in a relationship”. That’s a complete contradiction in terms.
Let your SO go so he/she can find someone who will be committed to him/her. Anything else is dishonest.

bookish1's avatar

@Trillian: “Keeping your options open” cancels out “being in a relationship”.

Not if you’re doing polyamory.

PurpleClouds's avatar

Not in my world.

Adagio's avatar

…that they could potentially make you happier than the person you are currently with…

Other people don’t make us happy, we are responsible for our own happiness… I think if you believe someone else will make you happy you are looking at the wrong source for your own happiness.

deni's avatar

@Adagio It certainly plays into our own happiness and I think it’s silly to think otherwise. Especially if you are already happy and mostly content with yourself.

Coloma's avatar

Of course it is fine to break up with someone if the relationship is not working, but to keep a constant eye out for new possibilities is pretty narcissistic IMO. YOU are responsible for your own happiness and you’re never going to find it in another person. Sooo, the only valid reason for ending a relationship is because it is no longer meeting the needs of one or both parties, but not because you’re keeping your options open.

A not so nice alternative description might be called player or predator.
I completely disagree with moving from one relationship to another in quick succession.
Healthy people take lots of space between relationships.

bolwerk's avatar

@Trillian: no it’s not. A relationship is between people, and is not strictly limited to long-term exclusive relationships. @bookish1 is right that it might include polyamory, but it could involve all sorts of other arragements.

Anyway, @deni should evaluate what expectations she has with her current partner before s/he decides what to disclose.

deni's avatar

@Coloma The situation I’m visualizing is not necessarily one where you are keeping a “constant eye out”....it’s more just not being shut off from the possibility that there is someone better for you out there than the person you’re currently settled with. You just never know. In my mind, they are not the same thing, perhaps I’m explaining it poorly, probably. I do agree with you, and others above, that moving from one relationship immediately to another is a bad idea, I think that would be one of the biggest obstacles in this hypothetical situation.

MollyMcGuire's avatar

Is this a trick question? Good grief!

wallabies's avatar

I think there’s a difference between actively seeking out your new replacement and suddenly just meeting someone great. If you’re seeking, you need to follow @dontmindme‘s advice – break up because the person you’re with isn’t right for you. If you’re going through life and suddenly meet someone amazing, then you’re faced with the decision of whether to stay put or move on. The decision would be a personal one and you would want to tell the person you’re currently w/ as soon as you make that decision. I would expect that this type of thing would start as a friendship and develop into more over a longer period of time. Because if you’re already with someone good for you, it would take a lot to up and leave and you would want to be sure that you’re making the right decision.

I think this is a great question, though, and I don’t know the answer – is it okay to keep an open mind that there might be someone better, or at some point should you accept that the person you are with is the best, and what would that point be?

tedd's avatar

I think it is acceptable to leave who you are with for someone who you find to be better (assuming you’re not married, which I know you’re not, lol).... But I would caveat that by saying that you should give it adequate time. Feel out your existing and potentially new relationship to ensure that you’re not making a knee-jerk reaction that you’ll later regret.

I’ve often found that finding someone else to be better than your existing beau is often a fallacy, brought on by a subconscious realization that you don’t want/shouldn’t be with your current beau any longer.

Blackberry's avatar

It only seems logical to keep the options open. You meet someone when you’re 21, then you just have to stay with them forever? Of course not. So you meet someone else that you’re more compatible with, you break up with the other person. Now, one must realize this jumping from person to person isn’t conducive to a long lasting relationship, but as long as you settle on one, it’s all good, lol.

wildpotato's avatar

If I wanted to take things further with a friend, first I’d let her or him know I’m already in a committed and open relationship. If she or he was ok with that, I’d be happy to embark on the new relationship.

I would not leave my current relationship unless I wanted to, independently of how I felt about my new romantic interest. I don’t see any reason that being close with multiple people can’t work. It has worked for me and @Capt_Bloth for eight years. Humans may be pair-bonders, but many of us also have a biological and sometimes psychological/emotional imperative to connect with more than that one other. People just have to be mature and honest about their shit. I’d prefer that my partner be loyal to me because he wants to be with me much, much more than that he be loyal to me because he took an oath.

If he decided he wanted out of our relationship to be with another person, I would be puzzled because the only way I see that happening is if the hypothetical other person can’t deal with his committed relationship to me. And I don’t see him falling for someone that close-minded. But if he did, of course I would be very sad.

OpryLeigh's avatar

You can’t help who you fall for and, if you believe that the feelings are more than just a passing phase, it is probably kinder in the long run to end your current relationship.

It also all depends on how you feel about your current partner. If you still want to be with them then I would try and focus on that relationship to see if it can be salvaged before being too hasty about feelings for another. On the other hand, if your feelings for your current partner are dying while your feelings for someone else are getting stronger then that’s probably a good sign that the current relationship has run it’s course regardless of whether anything happens with the new person.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I say yes because you owe it to yourself and to your partner to find the best possible match for you (even if the two of you are monogamous), especially if you are young and childless. If you think this new possibility is likely to work out better than your current relationship, you can take the risk and go for it. Some people aren’t into risks, they’re into whatever they’ve got at that moment and convince themselves they must stay that way – they often settle for something not exactly right and have problems throughout their lives if they choose to stay with the people they’re with – if you are the monogamous kind and talking to your partner about this new situation isn’t an option and you shouldn’t cheat, then you have to choose.

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