There’s a song that goes, “If loving you is wrong, I don’t wanna be right.” But falling in love with someone off-limits is undoubtedly complicated and rarely ideal.
Until then, we’ve got 4 tips for navigating your own off-limits romance:
1) Determine if the person really is off-limits.
People who are otherwise open-minded can be very judgmental about love, sometimes ruling out anyone who isn’t their “type.” Here’s the truth: There’s a chance that the person who could love you best isn’t as tall, muscular or accomplished as you think you’d like. Superficial traits aren’t inherent dealbreakers.
So who’s really, truly off-limits? Someone in a serious committed relationship. YourTango expert and relationship coach Janet Ong Zimmerman advises adding a few other people to the list. “People who show no interest in you despite your obvious interest in them, who are bitter and jaded from previous relationships, or who exhibit a lot of red flags should also be considered off-limits,” she says.
2) Don’t rush in.
Of course, what starts off-limits doesn’t always stay off-limits. Sometimes people fall in love in messy circumstances that could hurt other people. It’s not ideal, but it’s a personal decision for the individuals involved to make. No one said love was easy. That said, feeling something doesn’t mean that you have to act on it. It’s normal to sometimes find yourself attracted to someone you can’t have. Zimmerman suggests asking — and honestly answering — these questions before making any decisions about pursuing someone who’s off-limits.
What could happen, both good and bad?How would my decision affect other people? Can I live with myself knowing that my actions could potentially hurt others? What advice would I give to a loved one who was in this situation? If everyone were to do what I’m thinking of doing, what would happen?
3) Love the player, not the game.
Yes, you read that right. Before you proceed any further with an off-limits relationship, it’s important to make sure that you’re interested in the person, not just the thrill of forbidden romance. Excitement and danger are fun temporarily. But if you really want a future with someone, you can’t keep your relationship on the down-low or your attraction one-dimensional. “When you’re attracted to a man for the right reasons, you’re attracted on multiple (physical, emotional, spiritual, etc.) levels,” says Zimmerman.”
You tend to feel like the best version of yourself. You feel more good than bad, whether you’re with or without him.” So if you feel great when you’re with your secret love, but guilt-ridden or resentful when you’re apart, something needs to change.
4) Learn from your decision.
Maybe your off-limits romance will end in happiness. Maybe it won’t. Perhaps you’ll decide it’s not worth the risk. Whatever the case, it’s important to remember that every relationship, mistakes and all, teaches us something. “When it comes to love we tend to learn the hard way,” Zimmerman says. “At the very least, an off-limits relationship helps us improve and make the inner changes necessary to attract a higher-quality person who’s available.” And the best possible result? Two people who overcome the odds to get together … and stay that way.