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How to get over this urequited crush or limerence?
June 4, 2013 4:11 AM   Subscribe

I have had feelings for my thesis advisor for a number of years. He is very extroverted and charming and what I always thought were signs that he is interested in me, I now see that it's just his personality. He is in an on/off relationship with a woman with whom he has 2 children. I want to get rid of these feelings and don't know how.

I see him nearly every day as we are involved in a number of projects together. This man has been very helpful and kind to me through my (part time) candidature. He has also helped with networking contacts and furthering my career. I wish I didn't have these feelings that I do.

Sometimes he is all I think about, other times I can get distracted with other things. At the back of my mind is always "what if?". There are no objective signs that he is romantically interested in me. He generally has very casual relationships with students and co-workers. He texts, writes late night jokey emails and shares a lot about his personal life. I mistook it for interest but now see that it is meaningless. I am pretty sure that he finds me physically attractive but with men, it doesn't mean much.

I also think that he is aware of my attraction but chooses to ignore it. He often does things that make it obvious of how little importance I am to him on the grand scale of things and I can't help but feel hurt. I manage to regain some rationality about the whole thing and the hurt passes over. But I don't want to dwell on this hopeless situation at all.

While professionally it is very good for me to stay where I am (even post completion of thesis), I can't help but feel that I need to move on from him by actually leaving this place and not seeing him anymore. Or is there a way to get rid of these feelings and keep working here?

The other part of it is that he occupied so much of my head space for so long, that I feel I have wasted so much time and the only way to justify it is to make something happen with him. This kind of sounds crazy, no?

My feelings for him don't stop me from dating others but I do compare how little I feel for the men I date to this man. I have this romantic notion that he will fall in love with me and we will live happily ever after.

Someone please snap me out of this delusion.
posted by sabina_r to Human Relations (14 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
He often does things that make it obvious of how little importance I am to him on the grand scale of things and I can't help but feel hurt

Considering the tenor of this and the amount of questions you've been asking circling around the same kind of topics, I think your problem is probably not this guy or your feelings for him and a more general depression/malaise, and that perhaps you should be looking into getting therapy to deal with that in general as well as this specific issue. I think a lot of your problems might kind of evaporate if you start dealing with problems like negative self-talk and so on.
posted by empath at 4:17 AM on June 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Think about his kids and their need for as much stability and consistency as possible. Then think about the DRAMA of an on / off relationship with him . . . and the mother of his two kids. What fun!

This is a crush. It is not the kind of thing you rearrange your life over by leaving your work and candidature at this place. Unless -- did you and he actually have an interaction where you expressed your romantic feelings and he rejected them? Even then, the embarrassment will pass over. You must think about the true priorities in your life -- finishing your thesis and starting a career.

On the other hand, rearranging your routine to break your crushy habit could be helpful -- can you get a different adviser? Plead scheduling issues or bad breath or an allergy to his office or whatever.
posted by mibo at 4:18 AM on June 4, 2013


I have this romantic notion that he will fall in love with me and we will live happily ever after.

That's not going to happen. He is your advisor, which makes a relationship with you unethical. He is the father of two children, and either he prioritizes them over a relationship (which means it's not about you) or he doesn't prioritize their needs (which means he's a crap father). He's in a less-than-stable relationship with the mother of his children, which means he'd be dragging baggage along with him were he to enter into a new relationship.

You know this guy is unavailable, yet you're putting all of your emotional investment into this unattainable dream romance to the exclusion of available, potential real relationships. The real world is scary and ugly and messy and filled with risk, but it's also the only place where meaningful connections with other human beings can happen and develop into lifelong friendships and partnerships.

I also think that he is aware of my attraction but chooses to ignore it. He often does things that make it obvious of how little importance I am to him on the grand scale of things and I can't help but feel hurt.

He likely is aware of it, and if he's that charming and friendly then he's encountered it before. It's pretty common especially if you're not getting a lot of positive reinforcement in other areas of your life. So work on that -- friendships, relationships, professional networking, etc.
posted by headnsouth at 4:36 AM on June 4, 2013 [11 favorites]


The surest route to getting over feelings for someone is to have no contact; but that seems like it may unnecessarily compromise other important priorities in your life (education, career).

One alternative tactic I have found helpful in the wake of a break-up, especially when I can't avoid the other person: whenever I found myself missing my ex, I would consciously bring to mind specific memories that highlight why we broke up in the first place. And I'd ask myself, "do you really want to go back to feeling like that?" And the answer, of course, is always "no." It sounds simple, but it's surprisingly effective at short circuiting those unwelcome and unproductive thoughts and feelings. The hard part is to be really, brutally consistent about it. And to be really specific.

In your case, it might be to call to mind those interactions that made you feel bad, or unimportant to him. Anything that can concretely counter those wishful "what-if" thoughts. But that's just a short term tactic. You might also want to examine why you have gotten so hung up on this person; seems like there's more to it than just him.
posted by fikri at 5:02 AM on June 4, 2013 [5 favorites]


Sometimes when we are stressed, all we want is to be held in someone's arms and heart, be told everything will be OK, and believe that it will be so. We want to relax into safety, into magical protection -- the way we used to as little children within our mother's embrace.

It is a very natural longing for comfort and caring, yet due to these very same external circumstances, we are often too busy to attend to these feelings. We ignore them, push them down, struggle to keep our heads above water, but feelings don't like to be pressured and ignored, so they resurface -- often, as a deep yearning for romantic love. Idealized, perfect love, where a single person will come and life will fade into a blurred happily ever after.

This yearning just as often gets attached to an idealized other who seem like they have the power to "make it all better". He is your thesis advisor, literally has the power to make things better for you, is kind, takes care of you (guidance), charming, interact with you warmly, made you feel special in his presence as all charming people can, and a regular presence in your life. It is all very understandable.

How to wean yourself out of this? Take some time out and check your own stress and loneliness level. Come to understand that no one in this world can ever give us the kind of unconditional love a parent gave -- or at least, to expect that kind of love would only lead to disappointment and sorrow. Understand that we are our own parents now, strong, smart, with all the resources to hold ourselves in safety, protection, kindness and love, and take care of that crying little child within you. As she slowly relax into your arms and begin to feel safe, you will find that he exert less and less of magnetic pull over you.

Good luck.
posted by enlivener at 5:10 AM on June 4, 2013 [15 favorites]


"The other part of it is that he occupied so much of my head space for so long, that I feel I have wasted so much time and the only way to justify it is to make something happen with him. This kind of sounds crazy, no?"

Irrational, yes.

"My feelings for him don't stop me from dating others but I do compare how little I feel for the men I date to this man. I have this romantic notion that he will fall in love with me and we will live happily ever after."

Stop being unfair to yourself and to the other guys. Isn't that a bit like picking at a wound (a la: What a great time, I wish it was with advisorguy though and not with inferiorguy. -sad feeling creeps up-).
Why not be single for a while and take care of yourself?
posted by travelwithcats at 5:45 AM on June 4, 2013


I'm the queen of crushes. The what-ifs are more fun and safer than real life. I usually have one when things aren't going well in my life and I need an escape. I deal with them by using them for what I need them to be- an escape. When they go on for too long, as yours has, I then focus on the reality of the situation.

1. He doesn't make me feel great about myself.
2. He has some weird things about him that I don't like.
3. It would never work in real life because.....

It takes a few weeks to de-program yourself but you can do it. Jump back in to real life.
posted by myselfasme at 7:24 AM on June 4, 2013 [6 favorites]


I wish you wouldn't blame yourself so much. It is very common to crush on people you are engaged in creative pursuits/intense activity with. People with kids crush on their pediatricians! It's probably the way we are wired. A workplace or academic crush can be a byproduct of the excitement of the work-- or it can be a great motivator. Try to enjoy it!
posted by BibiRose at 7:42 AM on June 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


We do this when we don't want to focus on the thesis itself. Believe me, I know. Everytime you start having these feelings, turn to the the thesis and the thesis only.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:58 AM on June 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


Well, I think you need a ritual to divorce yourself from this guy. You need to convert him from a love interest to a guy you work with.

Have an affirmation: I deserve someone who can be with me unencumbered, I deserve to be fully loved and appreciated. Say it all the time.Don't run away from this guy, run towards something new and exciting.

Make a list of all of the attributes you want in a partner. Write it all down. No detail is too small. Keep that paper. When you start thinking about your crush, pull out the paper, say your affirmation and read the attributes aloud.

Make a playlist of songs that empower you. Play it until you feel like you could rule the world. (Put "These Boots Were Made For Walking" on it.)

Rather than pine for this thing that never was and never will be, prepare yourself to welcome a new love that will be EVERYTHING you ever wanted.

Good luck!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:01 AM on June 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


Have you spent very much time with his significant other and children? In the past, this has been a total crush-killer for me. If I get to know someone's partner, I can no longer fantasize about my happily ever after life with them without considering the actual horrible ramifications of that. It might just be how my brain works, but maybe it would work for you too.
posted by Gravel at 10:35 AM on June 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't feel depressed. I am down about being single but that's quite different to being clinically depressed.

As for negative tone of this post, I am just being a realist. I know that he doesn't like me in that way and I thought being self-aware is a good thing?

BTW I never told him of my feelings, so at least that makes it slightly less embarrassing. There is another question that I am wrestling with. Once I submit my thesis, should I tell him how I feel? I mean hearing him reject me in black and white terms may help me move on. Bad idea?

As far as I know, he is now broken up with his SO but knowing their history, they may get back together.
posted by sabina_r at 11:06 PM on June 4, 2013


You need a.(non circumstantial) reason you wouldn't want to date him. Come up with even just one good reason he is not the right person for you.

Then transfer your dream crush energy to some other (more obviously) imaginary dream partner. Imagine this person will arrive in your life in one month, or three months, and that you have to get your act together so that you will be ready.
posted by salvia at 9:20 PM on June 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


You may not think that you're depressed but you're sad about something and that's why you're attracting someone unavailable. How do I know this? I was like you until maybe three days ago, when I finished reading Become Your Own Matchmaker and realised that if I wanted to find a true love, I had to get off my ass, stop daydreaming about romance, and do whatever was necessary to get over my unrequited crush. I made a list about 27 pages long with all of his faults, convinced myself I deserved better, and then made another list with ways I'd be the best wife ever to a guy who truly loved me. You'll know when you meet the right guy, trust me. Right now, get yourself better and start finding as many flaws as possible with him.

Here are few to get the ball rolling:
1) Extroverted instead of introverted -- we wouldn't work out in the long run
2) Wandering eye -- made me feel special when he was supposed to be dedicated to his partner that he has children with
3) Inability to commit -- he has children with a lady but can't get beyond on/off? who/what is he waiting for? how could I be a good mother to his children?

Find a guy of your own to have your own children with, all right? This man is another woman's headache, not yours.
posted by lotusmish at 11:01 AM on June 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


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