I need some help dealing with romantic, wistful feelings when interacting with women.
January 17, 2010 9:38 AM   Subscribe

I need some help dealing with romantic, wistful feelings when interacting with women.

I'm having some problems managing my feelings towards some of the women I interact with. The feelings are at the romantic end of the spectrum rather than the sexual, and they're quite pleasant, but rather distracting. I think this will be simplest to illustrate with a couple of examples. Apologies for the length – I’ll try to write as well as I can.

1) I'm studying at the moment. There's a woman in my class who's an incredibly kind, compassionate, accepting person. We get along well, exchange emails regularly, and chat in class. She's as nice a person as you could hope to meet, and I'd really like to call her a friend. We are heading in that direction and I think there's a good chance of building a lasting platonic relationship, but I do have a crush on her. I crush very easily, essentially whenever a woman that I find attractive is at all nice to me, and my crush is causing me to question my own motives in interacting with this lovely person. She's having some marital difficulties at the moment and I'm very conscious that there's a nasty little chimp inside of me who's quite happy about her problems, and this really bothers me. I feel very conflicted, and it makes me question my sincerity in every interaction with her. I would love to love her on a platonic level, and even if her marriage ended overnight I have seen no hint of her attraction towards me, and nor do I think there's any real potential for a relationship. My conscience is killing me, and undermining the development of our friendship. (A week ago I constructed a near Waltonsesquely wholesome fantasy in which we nuzzled each other and then slept in the same bed on a sunny afternoon, fully clothed, in a sexless spooning position.)

2) I've been doing some sales work for the first time in a long time. A fortnight ago a girl (20ish) came into the store with her boyfriend and asked some questions about a product. I helped her out, and while I was speaking to her I noticed her eyes. They were the most kaleidoscopically complex blue-green eyes I've ever seen, almost like cathedral windows. A minute or two into the conversation our eyes met for several seconds and my voice audibly cracked. Ordinarily, you see a beautiful woman, you feel strongly affected, and when she walks by the feeling passes. Not in this case. The memory is fading now, but she haunted me for at least a week. I wish I could have kissed her.

These example are particularly potent ones, but they represent a trend has been developing in me for some time now. It's almost like I'm becoming hyper-sensitive to feminine beauty, emotional and visual, and it's impairing my ability to actually interact with women. I don't think this is about me putting the women on a conceptual pedestal because rationally I'm quite unimpaired, and I'm very comfortable with women generally, but there's definitely something happening. I don't think this is just a question of needing to interact with more women in order to develop a tolerance, because this has been escalating for months and I've been increasingly drawn to interacting with women over that time.

Could you help me figure this out please?

I'm a British guy in my twenties, straight and single. For context, I'm working through some depression at the moment, I'm quite socially isolated, and I'm an INFP (I say that purely because it's the most convenient, accurate way I've found to summarise my personality, strengths, and weaknesses, not because I'm a Myers-Briggs geek).
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (17 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Well, whatever you do, don't send them an anonymous banjo.

More seriously...sounds like you should be putting that attention where it is warranted and welcome...namely, dating. So, get on plentyoffish or match.com or something.
posted by ian1977 at 9:43 AM on January 17, 2010 [28 favorites]

I crush very easily &
I'm quite socially isolated

This is the source. Adjusting your feelings for these female acquaintance is probably not going to work as well as looking into the source. Why do you think you develop crushes easily? Do you feel insecure in general/with women? The feelings are just a distraction and placeholder for something else. Do you make an effort to strike conversations with, in your opinion, not-so-attractive females? Try it and you may find yourself surprised. You have unrealistic expectation with these women (and you know it). I would not try to "void" these feelings, so to speak. They are there and they are real. For me, I treat them the same way I treat embarrassment, fear, or anger - recognize the feeling, own it, and let it go. But I try not to dwell on them and allow them to have negative impacts on my daily life (harder said than I do, I know).

I would suggest you try to broaden your social circles, try to get into some volunteer groups is a good way to do this. You get to meet more people (trains you to be more comfortable with socializing), you get to contribute and feel good about yourself (this will distract you from focusing on those crushes). Best of luck.
posted by jstarlee at 9:55 AM on January 17, 2010

Are you sure that the girl with kaleidoscope eyes was with her boyfriend, or were you just guessing that the guy wasn't her brother or cousin or friend? If you're not sure, maybe post a "missed connection" to CraigsList. Otherwise, as mentioned above, try actually dating instead of just thinking about it.
posted by Jaltcoh at 9:59 AM on January 17, 2010

I think that when you're (as you say) quite socially isolated, these small moments take on much more importance than they normally would. I agree with ian1977 that you should put some attention toward meeting people and dating. You sound like you're interested in a romance but find that it's less intimidating to just fantasize about it.
posted by violette at 10:01 AM on January 17, 2010 [3 favorites]

While part of you may not want it, the thinking of it on a continual basis makes me wonder whether it may be regrets of not acting on things, wishing you had said something funny to that girl you met while doing sales? Wishing you were out with her? Wishing you had someone for sharing your dreams, hopes, wishes, etc?
Seems like both of you looked at each other for a while which tells me that if she were to leave that relationship with her boyfriend she would have to know something about you to experiment with BUT unless you step forward and show that you bring something to the table (be it humor or whatever else) you would have to make the first step not directly at her but around her in order for her to notice you.

It seems like you are craving a better social life for yourself if not sex and this may be something to listen to your mind and body about.

Depression if left unchecked will affect your ability to have a fulfilling relationship in the future.
posted by iNfo.Pump at 10:11 AM on January 17, 2010

Overall you seem very conscious of what you are/are not doing. This and the fact that you're asking this question in the first place leaves me thinking that the only thing you should do is worry less. Enjoy the moment, keep watching and checking your behavior, but really you're fine, don't worry.
posted by oxit at 10:22 AM on January 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

You should never feel guilty about your feelings since you don't control them. There's nothing wrong with crushing on somebody (or lots of somebodies.) That's just human nature. Of course there's a little part of you that rejoices in the marital problems of a pretty woman. Just be aware of that, and make sure you don't do something stupid like encouraging her to break up with him for the wrong reasons. As long as you don't ACT in a stupid way, how you feel is nobody's business but your own.

If there is a problem here, it's just that you are socially isolated. Naturally, you crave companionship, and especially of attractive women. (Most) single people without mates crave mates especially at your age.

Why not start using online dating? It's the best time in the history of the universe to be an introvert looking for love. Ten years ago I was a socially isolated introvert with few friends and no romantic possibilities. I joined a dating site and had literally all the first dates I could ask for. There were a bunch of duds but eventually a couple of flings, a long-term relationship, and then my marriage.

If you're with someone or dating a lot, you'll still feel something for attractive women who cross your path, but probably it won't have the same urgency to it.
posted by callmejay at 10:25 AM on January 17, 2010 [5 favorites]

(Oh you're British. By "mates" I meant in the biological/sexual sense, not the British. :-)
posted by callmejay at 10:27 AM on January 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

Rare events take on much more significance in our minds. You're isolated and introverted, so I'm going to assume that these sorts of butterfly moments with beauty and grace are rare. So your emotions and your brain cherishes these moments, replaying them over and over again in blissful agony. This from experience.

So what do you do? Experience more. Go on dates. Make friends. Bump up against humanity in as many ways as you can.
posted by whycurious at 11:18 AM on January 17, 2010 [4 favorites]

Do what you need to do to make your depression as much better as possible, get into a working relationship. I'm sorry (I've definitely been there) but I don't think anything in this world will prevent a sad, single person from being transported into wistful romantic fantasies by the proximity of a pretty face.
posted by nanojath at 11:40 AM on January 17, 2010

One of the most underrated skills of adulthood, I think, is to recognize that crushes are going to come up from time to time, enjoy them, and not act on them. This is useful when you're in a monogamous relationship, and useful when the crushee is, for whatever purposes, unavailable. People who've been married for decades have crushes. It's possible to let them happen without (a) imagining that there is some future in this relationship for you and the crushee, or (b) acting in weird and uncomfortable ways around them. I think the first step toward being able to do this is an honest, serious "this isn't gonna happen, so don't imagine it is" talk with yourself.

But if you're single, I agree with others that you should concentrate on looking for available women. The crushes you have on unavailable women are maybe good ways to practice your chitchat and banter with your target sex, but they're not going anywhere.
posted by Miko at 12:37 PM on January 17, 2010 [5 favorites]

Enjoy the moment, keep watching and checking your behavior, but really you're fine, don't worry.

I'd like to second this advice. You're going to get a lot of advice which will demand you go out and date, but that is a decision you should make on your own. Having crushes is perfectly normal, whether or not you are in a relationship.
posted by winna at 1:59 PM on January 17, 2010

If I were Lovecraft, I would say that Kaleidoscopic eyes lead to madness.

Sorry. Seriously, fixating upon eyes is not the proper basis of a healthy relationship. I know. The cure is to do many different things in life, and to grow older.
posted by ovvl at 4:57 PM on January 17, 2010

Nthing the following: isolation leads to you overinflate these feelings emotionally; go start dating.

I'm a believer in MBTI as well (ENFP here; hello my brother!). Knowing and respecting the nature of introversion, I'd recommend you identify and develop a hobby that lets you meet women. Then you can build relationships while bypassing some of the general smalltalk that introverts aren't too fond of.

Oh, and yes crushes are normal. They're OK. But I offer advice because it sounds like these feelings are becoming troubling -- you used the word, "haunted" in reference to the eyes-having woman.
posted by dualityofmind at 10:54 PM on January 17, 2010

Oh anonymous, I also crush intensely. I remember women that I've come into contact with for months (even years) afterwards, if they really affected me in the moment. Lately, as I commiserated to a friend about how hard I fall, she said "I wish I was like you. I wish I felt that strongly".

There's nothing wrong with getting swept up in a woman's beauty, or having crushes, or feeling nervous or moved by somebody. And as long as you're conscious of not putting your crushes on a pedestal (which is something I'm really still learning), then you'll be okay.

Dating is important though, and so is confidence in yourself that maybe these women would be interested in you. Assuming that they wouldn't, or that they're with their boyfriend, etc, makes them unattainable and thus even more deliciously forbidden and attractive.

Try reading "Intimate Connections" by Dr. David Burns. Only after this book did I learn how to deal with my swooning and take action and start dating. Good luck!
posted by whalebreath at 11:28 AM on January 19, 2010

Get laid.
posted by Nameless at 6:29 PM on January 20, 2010

As a fellow INFP, I have the following insights:

- these crushes are completely normal and nothing to be overly concerned about
- having these types of encounters is a very clear sign that you need to be more engaged with the world. INFPs are particularly vulnerable to being out of touch with reality. You need to be out there, doing stuff and talking to people, and spending less time in your own head with your fantasies.
posted by sid at 12:51 PM on January 28, 2010

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