NYC Psychotherapist Blog

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Monday, November 25, 2013

Are Fantasies About Someone Else Distracting You From Your Relationship?

It's not unusual for people who are in relationships, especially long term relationships, to fantasize about other people.  But if you find that your fantasizes about someone else have been distracting you from your relationship with your spouse, it's time for you and your spouse to ask yourselves what's going on in your relationship (see my articles: Fantasizing About Someone Else During Sex and The 7 Core Sexual Fantasies).

Are Fantasies About Someone Else Distracting You From Your Relationship?

The old saying that "the grass always seems greener on the other side" is especially apropos when it comes to fantasizing about another woman or another man.  

In your fantasies about someone else, they're always just the way you want them to be:  always loving, sexy, infinitely patient, kind and understanding.  In your fantasy, the another person (like a coworker) might seem perfect for you.  
Fantasizing About a Coworker?  The Grass Always Looks Greener

Meanwhile, the reality might be completely different, and no one can live up to an idealized romantic fantasy.

The Reality Might Be Completely Different From Your Fantasy

While these fantasies might provide a temporary relief from whatever boredom or frustration you might feel in your relationship, if you find yourself spending more and more time engaged in the fantasies about someone else and not paying attention to your relationship, your relationship will eventually suffer.

Some Tips on What to Do If Fantasies About Someone Else Are Distracting You From Your Relationship:

Be Aware
Developing an awareness about how much time you're spending fantasizing about someone else is the first step.  

It's possible that, when you first began fantasizing about someone outside of your relationship, these fantasies were only occasional and weren't taking away from your relationship with your spouse.

But if you find yourself spending more and more time with your thoughts focused on someone else, you need to admit this to yourself and recognize it as a sign that there's a problem.

Don't Get Carried Away With Your Fantasies
If you don't know the other person well (or, maybe, not at all), don't allow yourself to get carried away with your fantasies about "how wonderful" it would be between you.  

Although it might be exciting at first, eventually you'd be dealing with the reality of day-to-day living where the two of you would have to deal with who will clean the bathroom and who will take out the garbage.  That's life.

Ask Yourself What You Feel is Missing in Your Relationship
Are you feeling bored or frustrated because you and your spouse are in a temporary rut or are the problems longstanding?

Be honest with yourself:  No relationship is exciting all the time.  So if the problems are temporary rather than longstanding, be patient and think about how you and your spouse can get through this period of time.

But if you sense that you're distracted from your relationship due to a steady decline emotional or sexual intimacy (or both) that's missing in your relationship, obviously, that's a more serious problem.

Take a Look at Yourself First
Often, people in relationships are all too willing to blame their spouse or partner before they look at themselves.  So, before you blame your spouse, look at yourself first.

Fantasizing About Someone Else?  Take a Look at Yourself First Before You Blame Your Spouse

Be willing to ask yourself if what's missing from your relationship is you.

If, after thinking about the state of your relationship, you realize you haven't been as attentive as you used to be, ask yourself why and what you can do to change.

Communicate With Your Spouse or Partner
Although you can't make assumptions before you talk to your spouse, you might not be the only one who is feeling bored or distracted.

Be tactful.

Don't tell your spouse that you're consumed with thoughts about someone else.  This would be hurtful to hear and it won't improve things between you.

Ask your spouse how s/he is feeling and if there are ways the two of you can enhance your relationship.

Remember What Brought the Two of You Together in the Early Stage of Your Relationship
It's easy to forget, especially in long-term relationships, what brought the two of you together in the early stages in your relationship.  

When I'm seeing a couple in my psychotherapy private practice in NYC, I can tell a lot about how the couple talks about the early days of their relationship.  If talking about the early days brings a smile to each of their faces and they gaze at each other warmly, there's usually hope that the relationship can be salvaged.  But if they gloss over the early romantic period or, worse, if neither of them can remember it, that's usually a bigger a problem.

Stuck in a Routine? Make Changes
Are you and your spouse stuck in too much of a routine?

While some routines are hard to change, there is probably room for change in certain areas of your life.

For instance, you and your spouse can probably make some changes in your love life or your social life.

So, if your lovemaking has become boring and predictable, talk to your spouse about how to spice it up.  Maybe you have a particular fantasy (maybe it's even one of the fantasies you've thought about with the other person) that you'd like to try with your spouse.  Talk to your spouse about it.

Sometimes, even making small changes can make a big difference.  Changes to your love life don't need to involve acrobatics or swinging from the chandelier.  It can be as simple as adding a little more sensuality to your lovemaking, like giving (or receiving) a massage.

Not Sure If You Want to Remain in the Relationship?
If you're really not sure if you want to remain in the relationship, this is a more serious problem.

Whether you're on the fence about the relationship or you know you want to end your relationship, you and your spouse could benefit from talking to a couples counselor.

While it's probably fairly obvious how you could benefit from seeing a couples counselor when you're not sure if you want to stay or go, it might not be as obvious why you would see a couples counselor if you're sure the relationship is over.  

When people ask me about this, I usually tell them that, even if the relationship is over, this person once meant a lot to you and there are better ways to end a relationship than ending it with bitterness and anger.

A couples counselor can help you to be your "better selves" rather than ending the relationship with animosity. 

Getting Help in Therapy
If you're having problems in your relationship, you could benefit from seeing a licensed mental health professional who works with couples.

Problems are usually easier to deal with earlier rather than later, so if you and your spouse or partner are having problems, don't wait.  Get help.

About Me
I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR and Somatic Experiencing therapist who works with individual adults and couples.

To find out more about me, visit my website:  Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.

To set up a consultation, call me at (917) 742-2624 during business hours or email me.