How to get someone I'm infatuated with out of my head?
August 29, 2008 11:27 AM   Subscribe

How to get someone I'm infatuated with out of my head?

I've been in a long term relationship for 8 years. About three years ago, my boyfriend met and started hanging out with a guy who caught my eye. There was an immediate attraction between the two of us but being both in a committed relationship and the potential drama that could've resulted in anything happening between us was enough to keep us relatively well behaved. Nonetheless, we did develop a friendship (with small doses of flirting every now and then) in which we exchange messages frequently, talk on the phone etc. It's been three years and the infatuation has been a roller coaster progression. I've tried on several occasions to get him out of my head, I've tried focusing on his less endearing features, I've tried working on my current relationship to try and remedy needs that are not being met so that I don't project those needs on to my boyfriend's friend. I've tried distancing myself from him, that has proven to be challenging given the close relationship between him and I and between him and my boyfriend. Last summer was probably the worst period and the most challenging; the relationship came very close to becoming physical but we somehow managed not to let it and came to our senses each time we got a bit too close. Since then, the infatuation has died down a bit but it never seems to go away completely. I thought time would fix this but for years this has had a significant impact on my current relationship in that I don't feel I can move forward (marriage, kids) with my SO as long as I have someone else on my mind. I'm at the point where I just want to get him out of my head and I don't know to achieve this. I'm sure others have been in a similar situation, what did you do about it?
posted by DOT333 to Human Relations (24 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Constant mental reminders: fantasy is not real. Reality is more work, but worth it.
posted by plinth at 11:37 AM on August 29, 2008 [1 favorite]

You can start by stopping believing that you are "friends." This is about sexual attraction.

It also is likely not about your current bf. It is more about something else that you don't want to think about. Usually, every infatuation goes away after a while. But this keeps coming up. I suspect you have some other issue you don't want to think about at all. Finding out what that thing is and thinking about it will take care of the infatuation.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:44 AM on August 29, 2008 [2 favorites]

You have a decision to make, plain and simple.

Infatuation can be tough, but if I were in your boyfriend's position, and I'd read this, even if nothing physical had gone on, I'd be destroyed. You're trying to have two relationships, and you're feeling guilty about it.

What should you do if you want to stay with your current significant other?

Get away from the other guy.

No talking, no flirting, no texting, no nothing. Cut yourself off. But you already know this, I'm sure, and you can't bring yourself to do it. Sorry, that's the only thing that will get rid of this infatuation. If you go out with him, hang out with him, just chat, you're going to remember those things that make your heart go thump, thump.

And, also, I wouldn't even be thinking about moving on to marriage and kids until you're sure that this is something you want to do. I'm about to be engaged, and yes, of course, occasionally my eye will follow to a pretty lady. In fact, my conscious and unconscious minds can have all sorts of fun with this. At the end of the day, though, I know who I want to be with.

Figure that out before you do anything else, so that you don't hurt anyone, including yourself.

Good luck.
posted by SNWidget at 11:48 AM on August 29, 2008 [1 favorite]

Be honest with yourself - infatuation is fun/exciting/arousing. The fact that you have kept it from getting physical means that you have a line that you know you don't want to cross. The first step to getting rid of the infatuation is to minimize contact with this other guy. It is hard to distance yourself because there are so many excuses to see him, talk to him, pretend that you are just friends. You can't maintain this kind of friendship and get him out of your head. If you really want to get him out of your life, tell your boyfriend (not all the details but that you feel an attraction to this guy but you love him so you want his support in getting the other guy out of your life). That will keep you honest.

At the same time, work on making more current relationship more exciting. (I know you tried but if you are more committed to the relationship with this other guy out of your life it is worth trying again.) You might also want to play with having a crush on someone completely unobtainable like a movie star - if you crave fantasy, make a fantasy that doesn't get confused with real life. When you think of the other guy, start working on a detailed seduction scene with the famous person of your choice.
posted by metahawk at 11:48 AM on August 29, 2008

"Nothing fixes a thing so intensely in the memory as the wish to forget it." - Michel de Montaigne

It sounds like you need to break contact if you are going to maintain the relationship you are in.

You need to make a choice and go in that direction but stop wasting your time and the time of your SO if that isn't the relationship you want to be in. Seize this opportunity and know, regardless of the outcome, that you tried.
posted by geekyguy at 11:51 AM on August 29, 2008 [1 favorite]

This happened to me and it was with a man that I saw on a daily basis and worked with closely. The infatuation lasted for 5 years before I ended it.
IMHO, you need to stop the personal friendship with him. You can't deminish it so you have to end it. You may be able to return to it at some point, once the infatuation is over, but that may be at least a year away.

So, what I did was take it one day at a time - like getting over an addiction. In the morning I would tell myself, "Today, I will not call him" - and the next day, "Today, I will not call him." - and the next, "Today, I will not call him" - until the days added up and I was over him.
Also important -- I found a buddy, a girlfriend who knew the situation, and I made a pact with her that in my weak moments, I would call her instead of calling him. She always supported me and brought me to my senses by reminding me of all my reasons that I had decided that I needed to get over him.

I hope this helps. Good luck.
posted by Toto_tot at 11:55 AM on August 29, 2008 [1 favorite]

How do you feel about your boyfriend? If you want to stay with him and have no plans of breaking it off, I would try a little bit harder to get this friend out of your mind. You're not doing yourself any favors. It serves absolutely no purpose to crush and flirt with this guy for so long.

When we have these romantic fantasies about other people it can lead to unhappiness and contempt for our partners. Crushing on a guy that is especially romantic, hunky, funny, or has other qualities you desire? You might look at your boyfriend with displeasure and think, "why isn't my boyfriend more romantic/hunky/funny?" See? It's useless. Serves no purpose but to create unhappiness.

It almost got physical? You're heading down a slippery slope.

Focusing on someone that is not available is only going to make you miserable and your current boyfriend may become less and less appealing in your eyes. I think it's close to a form a self-sabotage or self-loathing when we want something that isn't available or healthy. You're not being kind to yourself by making this man, a man who is in a relationship, a constant fixture in your mind. It's a fantasy. A destructive one. Keep telling yourself this. This might get him out of your head.

You feel discontented in your current relationship. If you want to continue with your relationship, make your boyfriend the focus. Don't let things get stale. Work on it together. Communicate. It might not be a rush of excitement, especially at first, but as plinth said it's well worth it.
posted by Fairchild at 11:57 AM on August 29, 2008

Also, since this has been going on for three years that gives me reason to think your current boyfriend may not be the one. Give lots of thought to marriage and kids with a man that you've put on the back burner so to speak for three years on and off. Of course, I'm saying this on a hunch. You know your situation best. Good luck.
posted by Fairchild at 12:09 PM on August 29, 2008 [1 favorite]

How to Break Your Addiction to a Person by Howard Halpern and/or Obsessive Love by Susan Forward might help.

Both of them are aimed primarily at people who are actually in an intimate relationship with the person they want to "get over," but I think there would be some useful stuff in there for you nonetheless.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:10 PM on August 29, 2008 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks. A few more details…

My current relationship has some ups and downs but for the most part, I'm very happy with my SO and love him very much. And the worst part is that I don't even think that a relationship with this guy would work out or that we are even compatible. It's frustrating to fall for someone you know you don't truly want to be with.

At first, I didn't want to mention this because I didn't want to fall into the 'obvious' category, this issue is far from being obvious to me but maybe I should mention it nonetheless; I met my bf when I was 20, he was a few years older and had custody of his two year old son. He's a bit old fashioned and I love my step-son very much and the combination of these two factors resulted in me being the primary 'parent' in the household. A while back, I decided that I wanted him to be more implicated and me, a bit less. I don't know if this has any relevance to the issue but what I do know is that I'm not infatuated with this guy because I have any regrets about my situation. If I had to do it over again (with regards to my current relationship), I would make the same decisions.
posted by DOT333 at 12:20 PM on August 29, 2008

Honestly, I think it might be fairest to your boyfriend and yourself to ask for some time off. Infatuations can take years to go away, and if you marry him while still wondering 'what if?' you risk poisoning the marriage from the start. If you can't successfully get over your crush, take some time off the relationship to be alone (or play the field.) You'll either regret it terribly and go back on hands and knees to the BF (assuming he'd take you back) or you'll discover that maybe your infatuation was your psyche giving you a head's up that you're not with the right man for you. My two cents.
posted by np312 at 12:22 PM on August 29, 2008

Overall, I think your attitude is the right one--you see an infatuation for what it is--an emotion, not an indication from the world that you are supposed to go after the person you are infatuated with.

I'd explore the child issue more. Continue to talk about it with your SO.

Don't believe the "one" hype. There are millions of compatible people out there, and the fact that you feel attracted to another isn't evidence that you are making a mistake in being with your SO.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:04 PM on August 29, 2008 [1 favorite]

I was in a situation similar to this and I wish my ex-girlfriend would have just told me and we could have resolved the issue then. We would have both been spared several years worth of grief. It hurts immensely to have to play second fiddle, and if you really care for your boyfriend it's probably wise to be as honest as possible with him. Maybe things will clarify themselves when all parties involved are back on a level playing field.
posted by erpava at 1:13 PM on August 29, 2008

we did develop a friendship (with small doses of flirting every now and then) in which we exchange messages frequently, talk on the phone etc.

This has to stop, now - if only so that you can decide whether or not your current relationship is what you want without external interference. These infatuations are completely toxic to relationships - and unless you want out of your current one - you need to break off contact with this guy now.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 1:34 PM on August 29, 2008

You want this to stop? You're sure? Do this:

Put it on the table. Tell Mr. Crush that it is over. Get redneck about it, tell it like it is, say that you've felt this and he's felt this but that you have decided that you are with Mr. S.O. and you are going to be with Mr. S.O. and you are not going to allow this any more room in your heart, and that you will not tolerate any further flirtations from him, that you will not engage in any flirtations from your end.

State these things calmly. Matter of fact. Lay it on the table. Get cold with yourself, look at it coldly and rationally and with the knowledge that you are going to lay it out to Mr. Crush, which will end it on your side. Once it's done on your side -- if you really are done -- he will know it, and while he may be tempted to and may in fact continue to play, you looking at him like dogshit on your shoe will stop that, and fast, too.

Doing this is like hitting shower scum with bleach; it disappears, it just dies and goes down the drain.

Don't try this unless you really are ready for the flirtation to die, because if you are not done playing this will actually be just another piece of flirtation, another thing to jazz yourself up, and jazz him up, it'll not only continue the 'fun' but elevate it.

But if you really do want to be with Mr. S.O. then you really must stop this jive. And if you really do want this to stop, doing what I've laid out here works. No, really.

Get to work.
posted by dancestoblue at 1:42 PM on August 29, 2008 [1 favorite]

I've been there and done that. I suffered miserably for about two years before I cut off all contact - after another year or so, I was pretty much OK.

Advice? Um...

1. Tell your boyfriend. Of course it's going to be hard, but honesty is the foundation of any successful relationship.

2. Consider seeking help for depression. I don't know about you, but I spent years suffering from obsessive-compulsive behaviour and fairly profound depression. In retrospect, I wish I'd sought help for that - my would-be lover did, and I understand that the pills helped her a lot.

3. Cut off all contact with your would-be lover, or consider polyamoury - seriously, it works for lots of people, but it's not an easy option.
posted by mr. strange at 1:53 PM on August 29, 2008

Sorry -- rude. A bad end to my post.

A better ending than "Get to work." would be the following:

It was difficult for me to let go of the high I was experiencing when I was in a similar situation. And I don't guess I can say that "This will work" for you; that's pretty presumptuous. But I know that it did work for me, and I hope that it will work for you.

You are in a difficult but very human situation, and while difficult it is one that can be resolved, in my experience. My hope for you is that you'll be able to do so, that you'll soon enjoy the unencumbered love you've decided to share with Mr. S.O.

Good luck.

I hope that this finds you well.

posted by dancestoblue at 2:18 PM on August 29, 2008

I agree with Ironmouth and Fairchild, hang in there I think you have done well not to act on the mutual chemistry. It would make it very hard not to think about him when you still have to see him. Sounds like its reached its peak and your on your way back down though.
posted by CharlotteSarah at 6:26 PM on August 29, 2008

One of the things so edgy about infatuation is that it can grow stronger by NOT acting on it. It becomes vibrant in your mind, tempting, secret, supposedly delicious and just one inch too far for you to sink your teeth into.

But with the exception of perhaps that brad pitt/jennifer aniston/angelina jolie mess, I haven't ever seen the long term staying power of such things if you actually bring them out into the light and act on them.

Some things, like this infatuation, just are. And what they become is based on the power you give them. I think one of the issues is that you feel that you must 'do' something about how you feel. It's uncomfortable, itchy, relentless - you should ignore, pursue, deny, act, whatever.....on it. But I think that's not the way to think about it.

I say be more gentle with yourself. There is a lovely Erika Badu song called "I guess I'll see you next lifetime". The background lyrics are something like: what am I supposed to do, when I want you in my world? How can I want you more and more, when I'm somebody else's girl? I guess I'll see you next lifetime.

In the video the singer lives several lives - each life with one attractive man but always meeting another attractive man, but doesn't consumate the feelings. Instead, she looks appreciatively -sometimes repeatedly because the second attractive man is part of her life somehow -and continues on with her first attractive man. Then she dies, and in the next life, she is with that second previously unavailable attractive man from her former life. But of course, she meets another attractive man....

I dig that. Because it means you don't have to do anything about your feelings, other than note them, and appreciate them. Infatuation can be about feeling powerless. But what we need to do is respect our feelings (not deny them) and live with the choices we make. And that is where I think one can feel powerful, particularly when one must wake each day, appreciate the choices, and recommit themselves to one choice.

I say have a conversation with infatuation man-even if just in your mind. Just call it what it is. It's: hey, I'm attracted to you- it's itchy, wonderful, confusing awkward and all together normal. I sense you're attracted to me as well. And that really just does something for me. How often do two people actually feel mutual attraction on some delicious level? Isn't life wacky? Well, I've made the decision to appreciate the feeling, and do nothing about it, other that call it what is is and, well, feel it.

Wash, rinse, repeat as necessary.

Nothing in the world is a tasty as that cookie you think you can't have. But sometimes you just need to appreciate that you live in a world where something as wonderful as (and many fabulous possibilities of) a cookie exist. Admire them all, but eat one at a time.

PS: Thanks for letting me share my thoughts on this. It's one of the more intriguing things I think I've learned in my dating life.
posted by anitanita at 7:29 PM on August 29, 2008 [8 favorites]

FWIW, this will happen again.

The human condition sux in this regard, especially in North America and other puritan swamps. We get to have infatuation once and when it's over, that's all we're allowed!

There is a conflict with your (and probably everyone's) socialization and their biology. Socialization says 'Be monogamous', (at least in these here parts.) Biology says 'make babies'.

Your socialization has only been going on since day 1 of your life, but your biology...well, that's been cooking for a million generations. Nature wants you to mix DNA. It has a lot of strategies for encouraging it. Of course, you don't have to be a slave to your biology, but you can damn well guarantee that it will make itself heard from time to time. There are too many books and authors to reference on this, but I like Helen Fisher, David Buss, Diane Ackerman.

Practically, the only way around this is willpower. Note it for what it is, as others have said, and commit not to follow through with Nature's constant encouragements. Honesty is also a great tool... admit it to everyone and get it out in the light. It will desensitize it and with everyone aware of it, perhaps it will diminish.

(A good friend of mine and I once had a crush on each other, and every time our mates and we got together, we'd do a little peck of a kiss like two kindergardeners and joke about our crush. Fun for all.)

I hope you figure out how to manage it. It's really not that big a deal and you had better come up with a strategy for the long term, if you must have a monogamous relationship. The alternative is polyamory, as Mr. Strange suggests, but that takes a lot of mental and emotional strength on the parts of all involved, and such is exceedingly rare and even it is not without risks, pitfalls, and unhappiness. It is however, honest. (The reality is that a whole lot of people PRACTICE polyamory on the sly, but PREACH monogamy. Google 'paternity fraud'.)
posted by FauxScot at 5:38 AM on August 30, 2008

I'm seconding dancestoblue's suggestion to get the object of your attraction in on your plan to quit him. It's a healthy path and there can be no real rebuttal to your position. Plus, infatuation feeds on potential and potential feeds on all the unsaid sentiments between you. Say it aloud to him and dispel the mystery- break the spell.

FWIW, I was with a terrific guy, "A" (maybe not entirely my match) for years when we met and befriended another guy, "B". B confessed his attraction for me and there ensued over a year of dizzying infatuation (recognized and reigned in from time to time by A, my boyfriend, who saw the connection B and I had). After a less-than-elegant transition, I am with B and have been for over 2 years. We are friends with A, my ex, who has found a closer match for himself. And my feelings for B? The same dizzying infatuation coupled with deep love and total adoration. YMMV.
posted by Jezebella at 9:15 AM on August 30, 2008

Options I can think of:
(a) TELL YOUR BOYFRIEND that you have the drooly hots for his friend and you MUST cut off contact with him. I say this because I suspect all the "stop having any contact with the other guy" stuff would be somewhat out of your control if boyfriend and other guy are still friends and want to socialize with you along. I sure as hell wouldn't want to tell boyfriend either, but it gets the OMG TERRIBLE SECRET out in the open and makes you accountable for it.

(b) You've had this guy in your head for years. Break up with boyfriend, no matter how much you don't want to, and get that fling out of your system. Basically, you've had the anvil hanging over your head by a thread for years. LET IT DROP.

I don't necessarily think b is the best option ever, I'd rather you pick a, but if you've been in a happy relationship for years and you can't get this dude out of your head, I do wonder if there is a reason for it that maybe you should find out. (It might be Jezebella's situation for all I know.)

Either way, I don't think you can marry the boyfriend right now. If you do a, give it a year and see how you feel then.
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:58 AM on August 31, 2008

Remind yourself that somebody fanciable but just out of reach will often become all the more appealing, just because you can't have them.

It's the same principle that makes people instantly 50% more attractive if you put them onstage or behind a bar.

Also, remember that if you've been crushing for so long on somebody, if you get together there's a reasonably high chance of reality not living up to expectations.
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:36 PM on August 31, 2008 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks for the advice. He lives just down the street from us and comes over often which makes the no contact thing a little difficult to achieve. One time him and his girlfriend broke up for a few months and I thought of taking advantage of the fact that there was one less person that could get upset over this and tried talking to my SO about the situation but he just thought it was innocent and dismissed it as being insignificant. I will try to apply some of the suggestions on here and see how it goes.
posted by DOT333 at 9:05 AM on September 5, 2008

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