Limerance Frequency and Duration
June 26, 2015 11:44 AM   Subscribe

Folks in LTR - how often do you look up/think about/fantasize about new and exciting entrants into your life?

I am a cis-male in my early 30's. I am happily married to an incredible woman but since I was 12 years old, I find myself in a constant cycle of crushes that I've never been able to shake. I've felt incredibly guilty about this my entire life - I have this notion that "normal" people might have a crush every once in a while, but generally speaking don't spend very much time thinking about other people.

I don't really want to do anything about them, but I do really like being around people who I am crushing on and will often go a little (but not a lot) out of my way to spend time with these people. The settings are almost always public and very, very rarely involve alone time or alcohol, so there isn't a great risk for the heat of the moment to cause me to do something I would regret.

I've spent some of my adult life trying to figure out how to make this feeling go away - but now I am wondering whether or not it's just something that everyone deals with and I should just give myself a break if I'm acting okay.

My wife and I communicate really well (she is okay with the crushes I do admit to so long as my actions are in her best interest) and we have a relationship that sends me over the moon most days, so I don't think it's about relationship deficiency. My wife either rarely crushes on others or just won't admit to it when she does, but she's the most faithful woman I've ever met in terms of her priorities. Neither of us particularly want to share the other person, so polyamory isn't really what I want, but my brain wants to devote time every day to little limerances.

MeFites - what do you think? Am I semi-normal or is this a little unhealthy? If the latter - how do you suggest I go about breaking the constant crush cycle?

My habits and/or relevant details:

- Probably once or twice a day Googling/FB checking out someone I have a lingering or past attraction to, spending no more than 5 minutes a day on this kind of thing;
- When I meet someone new, I typically look them up on LinkedIn/Google/FB when I get home although rarely add them (if they're a professional connection, I will add them to LinkedIn);
- I occasionally have a difficult time concentrating on boring work when I've just had a good conversation with someone I am attracted to;
- I would say I usually have deeper and more intimate conversations with people I am attracted to and/or have a crush on than those I don't (i.e., I am more interested in their hobbies, what makes them tick, what their passions are, etc.);
- I certainly flirt in the way I communicate - although I do it with men and women, but I definitely see more of it in my behaviour with people I am attracted to;
- I wear my wedding ring all the time and reference my wife in positive terms quite often when it's relevant;
- I have been asked out three times in the last seven years by people who thought I was single. The last time was two years ago, but I felt really guilty that I interacted in a way that made someone else think I was available. Since the last one, I've made a point of bringing my wife up when I can;
- I will, when having sexy times alone, fantasize pretty regularly about somebody new in my life or a crush.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (12 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I mean honestly it sounds like literally your only problem is guilt over how you feel. Your feelings aren't affecting your home or work life in any recognizable manner, you're not putting yourself in emotionally fraught situations, you're self-aware and open with your significant other, and if you're being honest with your question, it doesn't sound at all like you're headed toward waking up in a hotel room thinking "oh god what have I done."

There's no normal worth considering regarding stuff like this, just what works and what doesn't and whatever you're doing seems to be working just fine for you.

Also, as long you're not like capital-f Flirting, you shouldn't feel guilty that someone asked you out after talking with you for a bit. I mean maybe they didn't notice your ring, or maybe they did and don't care, but your only takeaway from that should be a little hit of "hey, rad, someone thinks I'm cool and attractive!" right to the self esteem. Although, you probably shouldn't hang out with people who asked you out.
posted by griphus at 12:18 PM on June 26, 2015 [5 favorites]

To me this sounds a little unusual but not out of the normal range of human emotions - and mostly what sounds unusual to me is the googling.

I'd say that if you can sincerely consider your actions and thoughts and you're sincerely committed to your wife - and if your interactions with crushes don't take time away from building your relationship with your wife - there's no reason to worry about it.

Honestly, I think it's healthy as long as it's just as you describe - something that is purely light-hearted, not misleading to others and that you're content with never acting on. I think romantic and sexual desire are energizing. I also don't think it's a sign that you're "really" poly or whatever; I think it's a sign that you're a flirt who gets crushes even when you're happily partnered.
posted by Frowner at 12:19 PM on June 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

Not a crusher personally. But I know people who are crazy crushersuarous.

The more time goes by the less I'm worried about normal. Look as long as your crushing doesn't
A. violate the target of your affection's privacy or comfort.
B. violate your trust and communication to your wife
C. interfere with your own happiness
Then you are probably fine.

I'd be a little worried about being distracted at work or FB stalking strangers but that's more about keeping yourself in check than anything. Your guilt seems to be the main issue.
If you do ever cheat however you will look like a total goddamn louse.
posted by French Fry at 12:21 PM on June 26, 2015 [2 favorites]

I think it's totally okay to get crushes on people, but I think it's also not such a good idea to actively feed those crushes, which you're doing by looking them up on Facebook, etc. You give power to the things you give your attention to, and regularly checking up on people online means that you're giving all of those people prime real estate in the front of your head. I think it would be healthier to stop checking up on those people all the time and stop feeding the obsession.
posted by colfax at 12:34 PM on June 26, 2015 [6 favorites]

Am I semi-normal or is this a little unhealthy? If the latter - how do you suggest I go about breaking the constant crush cycle?

It is most likely some flavor of normal. I feel since it bothers you and apparently takes some of your time every single day, it would be nice to find a resolution. I don't know that breaking the constant crush cycle is necessarily the only solution or even the right solution.

I will suggest that some of your behaviors are a potentially slippery slope, things like habitually looking people up online and fantasizing about people during sexy times. But I will also suggest that being too picky about things can be more problematic than indulging yourself in small, safe ways. This is part of why excessively lawful good characters in games get nicknamed Lawful Awful.

As far as I know, there are no thought police. I am kind of picky about the stuff I want occupying my mind, but I also feel it is not really the business of other people (unless and until it somehow impacts them). So one option is to keep it to yourself and make your peace with it. Another is to do therapy, journaling, research etc until you feel satisfied you know exactly what is driving this and then find other answers than what you are currently doing. And "just NOT crushing" is probably not a realistic solution. That's like saying "Just don't hunger." Good luck with that. You can do things to make yourself hunger less, but you cannot just will hunger away.

This might be one of those things that has an answer, in terms of understanding the root cause and how to handle it differently, but may be so minor as to not be worth the time and effort it would take to get to the root of things. If it isn't wreaking havoc with your life or making you just nuts, maybe work on getting over the guilt?

Best of luck.
posted by Michele in California at 12:58 PM on June 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

It is OK to be attracted to other people. The main part I would want to stop would be the online research/stalking, this will only feed into the ooooh this is slightly naughty excitement of it all.

You don't say how long your crushes last, but if it's lots of short crushes that pass as soon as someone new & shiny comes along I can't see a problem with it. If you are carrying a crush on only one person for long lengths of time then it's getting into a not great area.

I am curious though, you say that flirting is your normal communication style, do you do this in front of your wife? If you would be embarrassed for your wife to hear what you say to these people then you might want to look at toning that back.

Remember "It's OK to read the menu as long as you eat at home."
posted by wwax at 1:04 PM on June 26, 2015 [2 favorites]

I used to be this way. I think it's normal to have the occasional crush. I also think if a person has frequent crushes and are engaging in fantasy and obsession, it's a way to escape the present and satisfy the ego. It's a distraction from the present. Maybe you want these crushes to want you or fantasizing about them gives your ego a boost. That's why you keep having them, because they can never satisfy what you're looking for.
posted by Fairchild at 1:23 PM on June 26, 2015 [3 favorites]

Oh hell, I jump from crush to crush just walking down the street, like hopping from one stone to another crossing a stream. I don't know anything about them, will never see them again, and so the crush pops like a soap bubble.

Part of this is the reptilian male brain that can spot a potential target for genetic recombination at 200 yards.

Guilt is a voluntary game. You can tap out anytime.

But for god's sake never act on a crush, to the smallest degree, when you are in a relationship. Not one single step in that direction because what happens if the crush reciprocates? What do you do then? That puts you in the position of hurting everybody.

Of course, it's possible that is the underlying unspoken motivation. If you want to blow up your life, man up and do it instead of looking for someone to give you the guts. We all know those guys. Don't be that guy.
posted by trinity8-director at 1:59 PM on June 26, 2015 [6 favorites]

I don't think it's about relationship deficiency.

I agree, it sounds like you adore your wife and you're very happy and good together.

I am a bit like you, prone to wondering and looking, and I've realised it's about a deficiency in me. I'm looking for attention, to fill a gap, to get a boost from someone else. I didn't realise how much I craved a particular kind of attention until I got it and it filled a void. I suddenly saw how vulnerable I was to an outsider who showed me that kind of attention.

Now that I know, it's much easier to manage and I can step away when I see trouble coming.

If you want this to die down a bit, maybe think about what the flirting and crushes are giving you that you could fulfill in another way that doesn't make you feel so guilty/concerned and with less risk of the possibility of hurting you, your wife or your crushes.

You're doing a really good thing, thinking about it and how it impacts your relationship.
posted by stellathon at 6:39 PM on June 26, 2015 [13 favorites]

I'm gonna speak to you a little more skeptically, since the fact that crushes/fantasies are 100% normal and only a problem if they are are problem has been well covered, and you seem slightly troubled by this tendency of yours.

Are you absolutely certain you aren't angling to cheat, not in any malicious, deliberate way, but in a sort of "it just happened" sort of way? Like the sort of way with plausible deniability, like a "she came on to me and I have no idea why" false naivete sort of way?

I ask this because the two men I've known who said they "flirt with everybody" (in those exact words!) eventually cheated and much later admitted that, at least subconsciously, they were kind of throwing it out there to see what stuck. They saw themselves as good guys who would never actively hurt their partners but they could not resist creating situations in which things "just happened."

Another angle, re: the googling multiple times a day, which is I think the part that most of us don't do with standard passing attractions: are you bored? Not with your wife, but in general? It can be interesting to learn about people and create little stories about them, like a detective, or a writer. Maybe it'd be fun to pursue something creative, using characters from your mind, rather than real people?
posted by kapers at 6:49 PM on June 26, 2015 [4 favorites]

This is totally normal and you are handling it completely well and it happens to women too (and has nothing to do with any sort of "reptilian male brain" but it might have something to do with "reptilian human brain"). Kudos to you to being so self-aware. Have fun, be safe, don't get too drunk.
posted by ch1x0r at 7:48 PM on June 26, 2015 [3 favorites]

You might want to check out Sex & Love Addicts Anonymous.
posted by macinchik at 11:31 PM on June 27, 2015

« Older How do you tell pulmonary embolism from asthma or...   |   I just want to hit my crotch until it starts... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.