The feeling of finding your perfect match is something you can’t explain – like that person was handmade for you and can fulfil all your wants and needs. But what happens if you think you’ve met your soulmate, but still find yourself fancying other people, even wanting to stray.
This is Katie’s dilemma. “My boyfriend is super nice, so sweet, surprises me often, sex is amazing, it’s the first relationship I’ve ever been in that’s healthy but for some reason, I want to have sex with other people,” Katie says.
“I don’t think I love him as much as I thought I did. What do I do? He moved in with me after four months of dating and now I don’t want him there but he’s doing nothing wrong, it’s just me. What do I do?”
Counselling Directory member Ilia Galouzidi is on hand to give Katie her advice.
What is your initial response to this dilemma? What would you say to this reader?
Galouzidi says she thinks it’s great that Katie has found someone who matches her in several areas and that she considers it a healthy relationship. However, she says that “we may often think that once we form a relationship that feels healthy with another person, we automatically abandon the part of ourselves that gets attracted by other people or needs to be seen and feel wanted.”
And it doesn’t usually work this way, she adds.
“We may enjoy being attracted by others or being attractive to others and still run an honest loving relationship with our partner,” Galouzidi says. “This is mainly because the feeling of desire and the feeling of love are different things.”
Why might a person crave sex with others, even in a good relationship?
Galouzidi wants Katie to start by asking herself the following question: am I usually craving sex from being attracted to someone, or when someone is attracted to me?
“Responding yes might just mean you appreciate attractiveness to people and/or you have a high sexual drive. If you tend towards the latter, you may want to think about how important is to you to feel attractive,” Galouzidi says.
“Then in relation to your relationship: do you feel desired, and equally, how much do you desire your partner? Desire is usually about elements of mystery, playfulness, and unpredictability.
“So you may also want to ask yourself: what elements make someone desirable to me? Am I desiring my partner in this way?”
How can moving in together change the dynamic of a relationship?
Moving in with someone can be challenging for couples, says Galouzidi.
“Although it has its benefits and may bring closeness to the partners, it can also create a lot of changes to their lifestyles,” she explains. “Suddenly, people may lose their private space or need to claim their private moments.”
Katie might want to ask yourself: how has my lifestyle changed? Which changes are welcome and which are more challenging? The answers to these questions can help a couple set boundaries to make sure each party respects the other person’s space and lifestyle, says Galouzidi.
Then, there is the element of familiarity. “Moving in together may get us familiar with each other’s habits, preferences, and peculiarities, which on one hand may create a sense of closeness and intimacy, but on the other hand, may take away the “mystery” and excitement that comes with it,” Galouzidi explains.
What practical steps can this reader take to figure out what she wants and adjust her relationship accordingly?
Galouzidi suggests Katie does a bit of self-exploration and reflection by asking herself the questions above to gain a deeper understanding of her personal needs and non-negotiables in the relationship. She may then want to share her findings with her partner in a non-judgmental way.
“Remember, a healthy relationship also means being able to put clear boundaries and feel heard and respected,” says Galouzidi. “You may find it helpful to pencil down time in your calendars when each of you can have some privacy at home. Also, you may want to try different sex games with your partner to ignite mystery and playfulness in the bedroom.”
She also wants Katie to ask herself how close to enacting her sex cravings she is. “Does it require effort from your end to be loyal to your partner? You are not a bad person if you answered: very close or very effortful. I am sure you respect your partner’s feelings and your intention is to be truthful to him.
“However, maybe clarifying your needs at the moment is crucial, so you can show up to yourself and your relationship with honesty.”