How to overcome a crush?
December 30, 2008 8:57 AM   Subscribe

I have a close friend with whom I've recently become infatuated. However, he has a girlfriend, so I've held my tongue. I long to see him, but then it's painful when I do. How do I get over this? If I just stop seeing him, how to explain it? I assume a polite fiction ("I'm really busy...") would hurt and confuse him, but I certainly don't want to burden him with the truth.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (26 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Try and stay busy, that way it won't be fibbing when you say you're busy, and hopefully in time you'll get over the crush and can be friends again.
posted by MiffyCLB at 9:00 AM on December 30, 2008

Stay busy by dating other people.
posted by desjardins at 9:08 AM on December 30, 2008 [1 favorite]

That's really not very nice to the other people. But, do stay busy, go out, make some new friends, reduce your emotional dependence on him by finding other things that make you happy.
posted by Lady Li at 9:14 AM on December 30, 2008

Is there any way that you can see him only along with other people? You know, gather a big group, but he's just part of the group? That may help -- only seeing him in that context rather than just one-on-one.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:22 AM on December 30, 2008

When you can't see him in a group setting, as suggested, you are too busy - he doesn't have to know that you are too busy having a hopeless crush.

If you want an impossible crush, why not pick a co-worker or a barista? Someone that you would never in a million years actually go after. Pointless infatuation can be a fun hobby.

Also, to avoid bad mojo, make a sincere effort to appreciate this girlfriend as someone who is good for your friend. If they get married, she'll be in your life forever.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 9:32 AM on December 30, 2008


All is fair in love and war. Go for it. What is more important than finding a partner? If his current GF is indeed right for him he won't leave her.

Finding out someone wants you is never a burden.
posted by muscat at 9:35 AM on December 30, 2008 [10 favorites]

I'm with muscat.
posted by Bageena at 9:40 AM on December 30, 2008

The only thing that's ever gotten me over a crush is getting to know the person I'm crushing on.

It turns out that, for me, crushes are all about the fantasy; I picture the person as the complete embodiment of all I look for in a partner. Getting to know them dispels that fantasy, and knowing them as real people is always much more rewarding than admiring a fantasy from afar.
posted by MrVisible at 9:56 AM on December 30, 2008 [8 favorites]

Avoid getting into a relationship with this guy. Do you really want to be Angelina Jolie? Or even worse, that girl who sowed a lot of bad seed between the two of them?

Good friends don't try to wreck one another's relationships.

My advice: keep busy. The crush will not last forever. In the mean time, try to avoid thinking about him, because that will only make the feelings worse.
posted by Solomon at 10:11 AM on December 30, 2008

Tell him. Life is much too short.
posted by plexi at 10:51 AM on December 30, 2008 [2 favorites]

Stealing a lover gets you a lover that can be stolen.
posted by zengargoyle at 10:56 AM on December 30, 2008 [21 favorites]

Seconding muscat and plexi. I've learned that the truth is rarely a burden.

Something along these lines:

"I really like to spend time with you, but I have an attraction to you that goes beyond friendship. If your current relationship ends, I'd like to see us get together. Until that happens, please understand that it's painful for me to be with you when you're with her, and I think I need to avoid hurting myself."

You've opened the door and he'll take the next step if he's interested. If he's not, you've given all the explanation needed.
posted by ElDiabloConQueso at 11:02 AM on December 30, 2008 [5 favorites]

MrVisible is wise. I always think of the high school football coach in a Pat Conroy novel who gets his team to stop thinking about girls by having the players visualize their idealized loves taking a really difficult dump.
posted by johngoren at 11:08 AM on December 30, 2008

Seconding MrVisible.

An infatuation, though sometimes painful, can be a wonderful exploration of your own psyche. It's a fantasy based on what you crave in a partner and is missing in your life right now.

Consider Mr. Crush. What about him do you love? His wit, chiseled looks, kindness, humor, career success? Count the ways.

Your answers will tell you what you unconsciously want in your life and in an available partner.

More revelations come as you get to know Real Mr. Crush more intimately. You'll find he falls short of Fantasy Mr. Crush. He's not so witty. He has black moods and hates his job. He tells annoying putdown jokes.

Armed with this newfound knowledge, begin your search for a potential partner who has the traits you love.
posted by terranova at 11:17 AM on December 30, 2008 [3 favorites]

All is fair in love and war.

It would therefore also be fair for the friend to stop being her friend if she comes on to him.

There's no such thing as "all is fair" in anything, because we cannot escape the consequences of our actions. It sounds like the OP knows full well what the result would be of such an approach.

I suggest that you use multiple approaches. Most importantly, you need to acknowledge the feelings to yourself when they occur, without acting on them.

Next, you need to distance yourself some to reduce the amount of feelings you have. I've found that a slow reduction in the number of times that you see the person helps immensely, without raising too many eyebrows.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:23 AM on December 30, 2008 [1 favorite]

The problem with asking scary questions is preparing for the answers....

How close is this friend? Do you have a lot of history together? If he were to reject you, are you the kind of people who could get past this, or would it be a dealkiller?

Do you have other mutual friends? Would there be collateral damage if it didn't work out? If it did work out?

No one here can tell you if he's worth the risk or not. For that matter, not knowing all the nuances here, no one can really assess all the risks. The question, I guess, that you have to answer, is simple:

Is the payoff worth the risk? If you really think so, and are prepared to gamble, go for it. If not, then continue to hold your tongue and be his friend.

From personal experince I have been on multiple sides of this scenario before, and no one ever got through it clean. But, it's your life and your happiness. Sometimes bodies get left in the wake, and fate opens other doors for those left in it. You never can tell what will happen, which is why you need to be clear about your course of action.
posted by Thistledown at 11:55 AM on December 30, 2008

If he's not married, living with her, or in love with her... go for it! Lots of people are dating somebody not because they're crazy about them, but because it's better than being alone. If he IS married, living together, or in love, then you'll need to move on.

At any rate, stop pretending you're just his friend, because you're not -- you clearly want more. Sorry if that sounds harsh, but you're generally better off being honest with yourself, and with others, about your feelings. If it's a no-go, you're best off distancing yourself from him -- better for you, and better for him. Either way, I hope it works out well for you both.
posted by LordSludge at 11:56 AM on December 30, 2008

Oh, fuck, did I get drunk and write this? I hope not.

Hi! Over the course of my life, I have turned your situation into an art form! Here's what I've come up with:

Do you want to still be friends with this person, and do you want to preserve this close friendship? That pretty much means that backing off spending time with them...won't really work. I agree that lessening the one-on-one time helps, but if that's impossible, it's time to redirect that energy even moreso. Look for other crushes in your life, fantasize, daydream about made-up, perfect lovers. I am presently madly in crush with a couple Welsh rugby stars, and Richard Hammond. (DON'T YOU JUDGE ME! ;) ) I've got a handful of daydream-partners that fill the time I used to use to come up with impossible dreams. I don't know how healthy a coping mechanism this is, but it's a start. Think of your crush as all this really wonderful energy that you've put towards digging this one person -- that energy isn't going to disappear, but it can be redirected -- and redirected again when you meet your next crush.

If you have a really special, very honest relationship with this guy, I would say to tell him you've got a crush -- but make it clear that you know it won't go anywhere at the present time. Because in all honesty, it probably won't. I did this, and it actually made our friendship stronger, because finally, finally we were forced to communicate, and I learned how very much I meant to him -- as a friend, but still, it helped straighten my head out. (And I love what zengargoyle wrote. You want someone who comes of their own free will, I promise.)

If it's a friendship you can stand cooling then...yeah. Just be busy more, limit the time you spend in his company. All things pass, sweetheart. You're in a rough place (or else I'm projecting like a mofo), but it gets better, I promise. And you'll meet someone who's available and digs you back, and it will be amazing. (Or so they tell me :) ) Until then -- redirection. Send that infatuation out into the universe, but in a healthy way.
posted by kalimac at 11:59 AM on December 30, 2008 [5 favorites]

From experience, it's the distance between you and him that makes it unbearable at times, but it's the only way to even approach resolve. Who in the history of the world has ever forgotten a crush's name? Distance is the biggest part, and it's the hardest part, but things will get better.

Also, I don't think anyone in the history of the world has ever ever been burdened with the fact that someone likes him or her.
posted by trotter at 12:33 PM on December 30, 2008

Seconding ElDiabloConQueso.
posted by procrastination at 12:43 PM on December 30, 2008

Also, I don't think anyone in the history of the world has ever ever been burdened with the fact that someone likes him or her.

Gotta disagree with that -- as a guy, I've broken off "friendships" with girls because of this, even though I'll agree that it's flattering on some level. And attractive girls, especially, do this ROUTINELY to guy "friends" who come on to them. I've had it done to me more than once.

Still, I maintain that it's better to be honest about what you want. Get a little more info about the relationship between the guy and his girl, and either move in or distance yourself. The friendship is a farce at this point, no better (no different, really) than guys who pretend to be friends with a hot girl, hovering, waiting for their Big Chance...
posted by LordSludge at 12:55 PM on December 30, 2008

2nding LordSludge. It sucks, but the only way you can get away with staying close and not telling him is if you're completely certain that you won't end up being a Nice Guy(tm). Tell him, if he reacts negatively deal with the awkwardness, find someone else to date, and hope to get him back as a friend later.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 1:46 PM on December 30, 2008

I think knowing would be a burden to him, especially if he really likes his girlfriend AND he wants to keep anon as a friend. It becomes a delicate balancing act of maintaining the friendship with anon without misleading her, and making sure girlfriend isn't jealous, should she find out about anon's feelings. I'd be weirded out if some friend of my husband's announced her crush on him. That kind of happened (before we were married) - he thought a female friend had a thing for him, and he was so skeeved by it that he cancelled a camping trip that was going to include her (and other friends). Before we'd met, he'd had a bit of a thing for her as well (that apparently never panned out), but he didn't want to risk endangering our relationship, so he distanced himself from her. I don't think they ever spoke again.

Presumably you were friends with the guy before he had this girlfriend, so you two had your chance to become romantic, and now it's a moot point. Move along, until he's single again (if ever). The people who say "all's fair in love and war" make it sound like there is Only One True Soul Mate out there for you, and you'd better find out if this guy is it. Bullshit. There are lots of men out there; men without girlfriends, men who aren't caught up in this drama. Go date one of them.
posted by desjardins at 1:49 PM on December 30, 2008

I think muscat is terribly wrong.

Finding out someone wants you *can* be a terrible burden, in at least the following circumstances I've had experience with:

1) The person is a good friend who becomes massively uncomfortable after disclosure
2) The person was an aquaintance who gets angry/avoids you afterwards
3) The person is in a position of power over you (I'm thinking job/school related, but this could be social power also).

One of the benefits of having a significant other is that nobody else bothers you. Don't take that away from this guy.

If you absolutely must tell him (and I really really don't think this is a good idea, because he just isn't at all likely to jump into your arms and live happily ever after, sorry)- then it's up to you to normalize back to friendship afterwards.

Better plan is to do as others have mentioned-- just move straight to the normalizing- less time with him, especially alone, dating other people, finding a new irrational crush object- these are all good ideas.
posted by nat at 1:55 PM on December 30, 2008 [3 favorites]

Tell him you can't be his friend for now because you've got a crush on him. Then stop being his friend until you've fallen for someone else. Not only is that the right thing to do, it is the best for you too.

It's not good for anyone when one friend has a hidden agenda in a friendship.
posted by conrad53 at 2:04 PM on December 30, 2008

Honestly, I'm in the disagreeing with muscat camp. I'm in a relationship and have a lot of male friends. If one of them said they had a crush on me, it would definitely make things awkward for me and put a strain on our friendship. I would also definitely not leave my boyfriend for any of them. But that's me, and maybe he's not that into his girlfriend. Kinda shitty for the girlfriend, if that's true, though.
Also, crushes pass. It's very likely that your feelings will change. You may want to ride it out for a while longer. If things don't work out with his girlfriend, you can make a move. In the meantime, who's to say you won't find someone you feel more strongly for that is actually available.
posted by fructose at 9:03 PM on December 30, 2008

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