Innocent Crushes

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Use Your Crush

But otherwise, having a pleasant secret crush doesn't mean anything is wrong with you or your relationship. "We don't need to be ashamed of these feelings -- we don't even need to fight them," says Ellison.

Rather, you can find ways to incorporate it innocently -- and maybe even a bit sexily -- into your life. "Compartmentalize your crush," says Wolf, and you can let it:

  1. Rekindle the spark. "Reduced or incompatible sexual desire is one of the chief complaints that couples have today," says Palmer, especially as they move into their 30s and 40s, the less-sexy parts of life take over, and even medical and hormonal issues may arise. How to treat them? Says Palmer: "Innocent crushes are good nonpharmaceutical alternative."
  2. Fuel your fantasies. Yes, other people, even other people who are not Antonio Banderas, are allowed to make guest appearances in your fantasies. "That's the whole point of fantasies," says Palmer. "They give you a way to take pleasure in something that would be unacceptable to act on. And that pleasure gets your endorphins going in a way that your partner can also enjoy."
  3. Brighten a day of duties. Suzanne, 32, of Weston, Connecticut, has a big crush on her sons' pediatrician. "I just think he is so great that I look forward to their appointments and get a little giddy when he calls me back -- much faster than he does his other patients, I'm sure," she jokes. "Maybe it's just my maternal hormones in overdrive: the thrill I get when he tells me my boys are 'perfect.'"
  4. Show you a new side of your sexuality. Wendy, 32, of Los Angeles, was infatuated -- and exasperated -- with one of her underlings at work. "He has the most beautiful sea-green eyes -- I get lost in them, even when I'm yelling at him to get his act together," she says. "I guess I enjoy having power over him, which maybe contributes to the charge. I mean, I spent my youth trying to seem cute to older men. But now I get to see, harmlessly, how much I love to play the role of a dominant woman." And that is work she can take home to her husband.
  5. Boost your ego, and not just in the bedroom. "I had a job I loathed, a boss who made me feel one foot tall -- and a giant crush on the new guy," says Gina, 36, of Los Angeles, even though he was taken and not her normal type. "All of a sudden I'm getting excited when I'm getting ready for work -- What to wear? Which necklace? Hair curly or straight? -- and feeling that 'bloop' in my stomach when he looks at me. I wasn't trying to seduce him at all. It was plain and simple an ego boost, one that made me feel powerful and confident and at ease with myself. It helped put me in a much more positive mindset when I started sending out my resumes."
  6. Help you shine at work. Norine, 39, of Las Vegas, had the hots for a guy who hired her for a freelance project. "I worked my butt off for him, tried to blow him away with every assignment, and produced some of my best work ever," she says.

Norine adds: "I also suspect that my fiance has a bit of a crush on someone else I know, who's smart and fun and thinks he's all that."

Hold on! Our partners aren't allowed to have crushes, are they? Well, let's just say that their crushes -- and ours -- are reminders that we are, at very least, human. And actually, says Norine: "I tease him about it a little, but it doesn't make me upset: it's just a reminder that he is all that -- and I'm lucky that we're together."


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