It’s Okay to Be In a Relationship and Still Be Attracted to Other People


Desire is always changing. Some days, we desire love and affection, while other days we want to be alone. Some months, we find that we feel more sexual and other times we can’t seem to locate our sexy selves at all. Some nights, we may find ourselves desiring someone who isn’t our partner and then for weeks and months and years, our partner might be the only one we desire. All of it is okay. 

“Desire, regardless of gender, will wax and wane if you’ve been with someone for a long time,” says sexologist and founder of MiaMuse, Vanessa Muradian.

“Monogamy is this interesting framework that’s been put on us via the patriarchy, to support us through marriage and relationships. But thankfully, the framework is changing, and we’re starting to deconstruct how we’ve been taught to see love and relationships dynamics.”

Having been in the industry for 13 years, Vanessa has seen a huge change in the conversations people have around the relationship sturtcures. “When I started out in this industry, no one was asking these questions. I was committed to having the conversations that weren’t being had, but are now the conversations at the forefront of people’s minds.”

In a world that is arguably more self-aware than ever before, we’re blessed to have platforms that allow us to openly express our desires, and recognise them as normal and healthy.

Being attracted to someone outside of your relationship can feel complicated, even more so if their gender differs from your partner’s, and you haven’t established open communication around sexuality. 

In my own personal experience, as a woman who identifies as bisexual but is mostly in relationships with men, I’ve felt as though my attraction to women isn’t taken seriously and neither is my bisexuality. The fact that I’m attracted to women outside of my relationship and the label my relationship has as heterosexual, makes it difficult for me to express the desire I feel towards women when it arises. 

Although it takes vulnerability, communication and openness to discuss these desires and parts of your identity with your partner, it’s the only way to have a truly strong partnership.

“You don’t know what bringing up sexuality and desires will do for your relationship and your partner. They may have the same urges, or things that they want to discuss in that realm that they’ve been keeping to themselves,” Muradian says.

“The sooner those conversations happen, the sooner you know what you’re dealing with and what values you’re setting up in the relationship, which can really strengthen your partnership.”

Basically, it’s never a bad idea to be upfront about who you are, how you identify and what you desire. Your desires don’t have to fit in a box; they’re allowed to change and grow with you as you evolve into the person you are.

Being in a relationship doesn’t mean that you won’t desire other people. Committing to someone isn’t promising that you won’t be attracted to anyone else, ever. Although we’re getting better at normalising the fluidity of desire, and talking about our own personal experiences of desire with our partner, our friends, our family, professionals and ourselves, it can be scary to address your own, especially when you’re unsure of how others will react.

“If you’re not feeling safe in these conversations, then that’s something different,” Muradian explains. “Safety is number one for sexual relating and emotional relating, so you need to ask yourself and your partner, how do we establish safety?

“If anxiety is presenting, I think it’s generally a clash of the head and the heart. Naming it is the best thing to do. We’re trying to undo the internalised patriarchy that says relationships should look one way. In relationships today, all sorts of things are being questioned, and we need safety in those moments of questioning.

“There won’t be any productive conversation, listening, receiving or communicating without safety.”

We need to remember that we have the power to create any dynamic we want. Through conversations around what our morals are and our values, we’ve got to commit to the evolution of the self, and we need to do that for each other.

Commitment may mean different things to different people, but we can choose what they mean to us and in our own relationships. When you make a commitment to be with someone, you commit to telling them your truth. That means that if you desire someone else, and you feel as though you’d like to explore that, you need to have a conversation. 

“When commitments are broken, that’s the breaking of trust, not because of who you want to have sex with or what gender you’re attracted to. You need to be clear about what your commitments are and name them. Don’t be afraid of labels.”

Until we’re in a space where there are no expectations and no labels needed, labels can be great stepping stones to understand fluidity and diversity. Don’t be afraid to use them when you’re talking about yourself. They can change and evolve; your labels aren’t set in stone, they’re a way of helping yourself and others to talk about things. 

“If you feel as though you’re contracting around who you are authentically, it will feel like a block in your relationship. Don’t push it down, because it will only get louder.”

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