Help for an 30-something dealing with a crush
February 22, 2016 2:51 AM   Subscribe

I feel ridiculous and embarrassed to even ask this question, but I need help figuring out how to get rid of a crush.

A few months ago, I start participating in a new hobby. I'm really enjoying the hobby and the group, but unfortunately, I have developed a crush on someone and it's starting to make me feel unhappy.

I'm a straight, single woman in my 30s. I have a tendency towards anxiety and mild depression. It's been many years since I have had a crush on someone. The last time I experienced a crush was with my first love. The crush turned out to be mutual and we dated for several years. The crush and that relationship ended many years ago. In general, I feel like a responsible adult and think of crushes as something for teenagers. I feel like a complete idiot having a crush in my 30s and I'm starting to feel very pathetic.

This crush is further ridiculous in that it developed before I met this person. I thought his user name was adorable and the crush started from there. It turned out that I found him attractive when we ended up meeting (which is very rare for me as I tend to be demi-sexual) and that he is single.

I do not get the impression that he is interested in me judging from our interactions. I have gone out of my way to hide this crush, but I have slipped a little and assume that he suspects that I have a "like" him.

My impression of him is that we wouldn't be a good match even if he did return my feelings. While we are alike on paper, I think he's too arrogant and self-centered for my personality.

I see him 1-2x a week as part of this hobby. We mostly talk about the hobby.

I don't want to give up this hobby because I genuinely like the hobby and the group of people I have met. However, this crush is driving me insane in that I think about this guy an excessive amount. It's distracting and I feel pathetic. The amount of time I think about him is ridiculous. I haven't thought about anyone this much since my last relationship ended a few years ago. I'm also having difficulty going on dates with other men and enjoying their company.

How do I get rid of this crush? Have you ever experienced a crush later in life? How can I redirect these crush feelings from this person and onto one of the men I have been dating? I would really rather not ask him out and be rejected. I'm guessing that while being rejected would make me get over my crush, my emotional state is somewhat fragile and I don't want to be told to my face that he doesn't find me an acceptable person to date.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (15 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
When I've had crushes like this (where I'm more attracted to the IDEA of the person than the person themselves), I've found the best antidote is actually spending time with that person. Then your idea of them starts to give way to the reality of who they are. You already said you don't think you'd be a good match. Go from there.
posted by Brittanie at 3:25 AM on February 22, 2016 [7 favorites]

The best, most foolproof way to deal with this is to ask him out on a date. It doesn't have to be a commitment for life -- just text him and see if he wants to get some coffee and see where it goes. If he turns you down -- great, it's over, you don't have to spend the next two years obsessing over him! Yay! If he says yes, then you'll get a chance to see if you really like him as you get to know him better -- also yay!

Seriously, though, there's no reason not to do it -- your conjectures about how you might or might not get along together in the long-term are not really relevant here, because your crush-feelings are telling you quite strongly that you'd like to spend some more time with him. It doesn't sound like either of you are otherwise committed, so -- go for it!
posted by ourobouros at 4:05 AM on February 22, 2016 [6 favorites]

Ah, and one other thing: don't shame yourself about feeling a crush! Crushes happen to everybody, at all times of life -- you're not alone and you're not done with them just because you're in your 30s. The trick that can make them a little easier as you get more experienced with them is learning how to use them more constructively -- aka, stepping up, taking a risk, and asking someone out -- instead of trying (futilely) to suppress the crush and making yourself miserable.
posted by ourobouros at 4:12 AM on February 22, 2016 [6 favorites]

Everyone crushes, at every age. Oh man, crushes are wonderful and terrible and absolutely normal. Don't be so hard on yourself.

And there's really no way to redirect your crush feelings on to another person, so don't even try. The only way out of this thing is through. Ask the guy out. The worst thing that can happen is he'll say no, and then that little sting to your pride should be enough to take the shine off your crush.
posted by nerdfish at 4:46 AM on February 22, 2016 [5 favorites]

seconding nerdfish. I went through this recently and decided I'd rather get rejected than agonize over not knowing. Mostly, I didn't want to miss out on an opportunity to have a connection with someone due to fear. Rejection sucks and boy does it sting. But it frees you to direct your attention to men that are willing to show interest in you. Find that guy.
posted by lunastellasol at 6:57 AM on February 22, 2016

Yep, crushes happen at all stages of life.

The two options I can think of are laid out above: (a) get to know his flaws; or (b) ask him out. It sounds like you already don't admire his actual personality, so I'd go with (a).

In my experience, (a) goes like this: I think about what I really want in a partner. I read about confirmation bias, to remind myself of how powerful my filters are. Then I pay attention and reverse my bias, concentrating on the attributes of the person that I find distasteful or incompatible with what I want in a partner, and with my own good and bad qualities. I also (and this comes up in framing what I want in a partner) think about whether or not I am attracted to the person because I would like to be more like them. Do I want to date this person, who is clever and sharp and a little over-confident? Or do I want to be that person, at least some of the time?

You sound pretty hard on yourself emotionally in your ask, OP. Maybe, and I don't know anything about you beyond the contents of your askme, but maybe, you have a crush on this person because you'd like to give yourself a break like they do, expand your horizons, get deeply competent in this new hobby so that others are attracted to you...

I am also anxious and tend toward depression, and sometimes when I've met people who are (as you say) "alike on paper, but... arrogant and self-centered" compared to me, I've had crushes on them, or been attracted to them despite my sensible self saying NO! In reflection, it's because they were basically like me without my hang-ups and uncertainties, and what I needed to do was not lose my mind obsessing over them, but take it as a cue to lighten up on myself and give less fucks about the world and take up some space in it. YMMV, of course.
posted by girlpublisher at 7:40 AM on February 22, 2016 [4 favorites]

I dunno, rejection might make me more likely to fixate, personally. It sounds like the best way to get over this would be to ask him out, have him say YES, and be subjected to a date in which he amply demonstrates that he's too arrogant and self-centered for you. Can you just visualize that happening? Like, walk through how the date would go, have him exhibit all his not-really-a-good-match characteristics, and see whether you come out of that exercise less enamored? After all, the crush is about a fantasy version of him, so maybe tweaking the fantasy to match the less-suitable reality would help.

To answer your other question, there's nothing weird or pathetic about this, but the intensity of the feelings -- especially attached to someone you don't like all that much, before you even met him -- may be alerting you to something that's missing in your life. Possibly it's the guys you're dating, but is it possible that you've also been without an engrossing new project for too long and you're diverting some of your joyful feelings about your new hobby onto this convenient male avatar?
posted by babelfish at 7:44 AM on February 22, 2016 [3 favorites]

"I do not get the impression that he is interested in me judging from our interactions. I have gone out of my way to hide this crush, but I have slipped a little and assume that he suspects that I have a "like" him.

My impression of him is that we wouldn't be a good match even if he did return my feelings. While we are alike on paper, I think he's too arrogant and self-centered for my personality."

Nothing's wrong with having a crush at any age, but these sound like judgements worth trusting (unless your compass is way off, and I don't get the sense it is).

If you think you're likely to develop a deeper attachment to this person given continued exposure, it might be an idea to find another place to do the thing, and let time do its work.
posted by cotton dress sock at 8:30 AM on February 22, 2016

I get crushes (30s) and this is what I've found:

- It's easier to weather a crush if you do try to ask the person out. I've done this*, been (nicely) rejected, and it stung a lot but I got over it. I don't really want to go out with someone who doesn't want to go out with me. The element of "does s/he like me?" mystery is what causes some crushes to go on and on. If they don't like me, if the possibility isn't even there, my crush doesn't really have anything to feed itself on.

- I've also found sometimes that when I get to know a person better, I realise we're not really compatible, and that's also a great way of getting over a crush. Again, once the element of mystery goes, it is often hard for a crush to linger.

- I don't think there's anything that negative about crushes - they're harmless, pleasant fantasies. I wouldn't beat myself up too much about it. Maybe it's immature, but nobody's perfect.

Don't stop dating other dudes! See if getting to know this guy better is an option. See if he wants to grab a coffee. I'd focus on getting rid of the mystery element that makes this dude so alluring.

*It was scary! But it didn't kill me.
posted by Ziggy500 at 9:54 AM on February 22, 2016 [2 favorites]

The way my most recent crush flamed out was that one of my silly little fantasies involving the two of us finally getting together was broken in a really abrupt and obvious manner. It made me really, deeply examine the differences between how I wanted things to work out between us, and the reality of the matter. It hurt a lot too, but it was really eye opening - as you say, I knew in my head that we were incompatible, but my heart was another matter entirely.

So, that's my suggestion - create a fantasy of what you WANT to happen, then watch and really judge how he measures up. Usually, he won't, because crushes are often based on our own wants and desires, given life by people that don't really measure up to what we, when it comes right down to it, need.

On the other hand... If he does, maybe this thing has more of a chance of working out than you initially thought! Who knows?
posted by beware the frog person at 11:27 AM on February 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

Crushes are incredibly commonplace at all ages. They're just feelings responding to the thought that you might get along with this person and you find their company pleasing. Like all feelings, you don't need to act on them. You can just... let them happen and continue on with your life.

I find it much easier to deal with the crush once I 1) establish that I have no interest in following up on it ever, 2) stop letting the crush act as a conduit for my anxiety, 3) indulge in the crush as harmlessly as I can. I come up with my little ideal life scenario based on who I think they are, I imagine what our dates would be like, I try not to make a fool of myself in front of them (this is the most anxiety-inducing part for me). Usually within a few weeks, the person does something that goes against these ideal scenarios and that breaks the spell and I'm on my way to freedom.

The hardest part is the obsessive rounds of "could this relationship work" with no information about the person because then you're just stuck going "well if they're like THIS then maybe" for an endless amount of traits. If you can short-circuit that, it gets a lot easier.

Also you're not pathetic for enjoying someone's company and imagining being close to them! Please don't judge yourself for this. Intense emotions can be overwhelming sure but crushes are fine to have, they really are, and they certainly don't mean you're weak or wrong or lacking in any way. You just like someone. That's totally OK. (You're likely to have a few more too so the sooner you accept this the better.)
posted by buteo at 11:46 AM on February 22, 2016 [2 favorites]

I read this book for work (I swear!) called Unrequited: The Thinking Woman's Guide to Romantic Obsession. It's pretty interesting, and among other things, it talks about how women can and do use these crazy obsessions to motivate themselves in their own lives, artistically or otherwise, quite independent of the man in question. I would try to go that route, personally (I'm actually a little jealous of you, I haven't met anyone worth having a crush on for years and years and years.) While I don't often agree with advice that boils down to "change your mindset rather than the situation you're in," I think this is one where it could really work. Crushes tend to last until you meet someone else or become disillusioned with the crushee, so maybe just re-framing it into an appreciation of being alive and having feelings and stuff would help.

Trying to redirect it towards someone else you're dating seems futile, and almost unkind, though I realize that's not your intention. I wouldn't want to find out a guy I was dating was trying to redirect his crush on another woman onto me, in any case. But maybe there's something your dates are lacking, that crush-guy has? If so, defining it might help you to meet someone you really want to have feelings for.
posted by DestinationUnknown at 12:42 PM on February 22, 2016 [2 favorites]

1) There is no shame in anyone of any age having a crush! It's natural and human. As long as you're not acting like a puppyish junior high schooler, all is good.

2) It might be a good idea to ask him out. As long as you are admiring him from afar, it is easy to keep him on a pedestal. I've asked crushes out, and been turned down or had a terrible time on the date, and that tended to deflate my crushy feelings really fast. Ask him out - in a low-key way for something like coffee, not dinner and a movie. He may or may not reciprocate, but it's a good way to get your feelings out in the open, and sunlight is always the best disinfectant.

3) I've found myself getting crushes on unsuitable (read: married or my boss) men when I don't have enough going on in my own life. If you are feeling stagnant or in a rut, and especially if you don't see a way out of this rut, crushing can become an outlet - you're obsessing about Him, Wonderful Him! rather than making your own life more fulfilling. What are you missing in your non-crush life? Do you need more/better friends? To be part of a group (like a church or close circle of friends)? Do you need more interesting things to do? If something is missing in your own life, then the healthy and productive thing to do is direct your energy there, rather than pouring it all into "Isn't He Wonderful!"
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 2:30 PM on February 22, 2016 [5 favorites]

A very similar thing happened to me. Met someone in a hobby group and developed a crush on him (both in our 30s). In my case I could actually tell that he was liking me too. We were starting to get flirty, so I stopped going to the hobby group for two months, because, frankly, it was getting hard to control my feelings, and I didn't want to give it a go because I was still (albeit unhappily) married at that time, and so was he. After 2 months of absence and thinking about all the reasons we were not really compatible, I cooled off, and so could return to the group without having anyone's feelings hurt. It looked like he cooled off too during that time. A few years later we are still in the same group, he is happily married to his new wife, and I have a boyfriend whom I love. We just would not make a good pair, and it was all for the better.
posted by LakeDream at 4:19 PM on February 22, 2016 [3 favorites]

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