Rose, thou art sick.
October 9, 2007 7:57 AM   Subscribe

Help me get past a crushing infatuation...

I'll try to be brief. 2 people, very close in high school (over 15 years ago) In the ensuing years, kept reconnecting at odd times, and always felt something, but never acted on it. I contacted him via a social networking site last December, but he wasn't using it, so I just heard from him a couple of weeks ago.

The very first IM we have somehow gets to him telling me that he loves me, and that every woman he's dated has something that reminds him of me. I admit the same. (See this past AskMe for more on telling your best friend that you love them, which is what I should have done.)

Cue quite a few extremely intimate talks, up to 4 hours at a time. Problems : I'm still married (though very much separated) and he's met someone online that he thinks he could be happy with. No, he's never met her in person.

We have a date, which results in even more intensity. I'm in full-blown infatuation at this point, which is exceptionally bad timing due to lots of work and school pressure.

I think you can guess what happens next. He backed off - which I admit had a lot to do with the fact that I was freaking out in almost every conversation. I couldn't force myself to talk about everyday things, I always came back to the "What are we going to do now? What do you think/feel/want?" In an attempt to salvage the friendship, I go to see him, and tell him that while I know we have feelings for each other, we should set them aside for now, and just be friends. We agree.

All well and good, right? So why can't I stop obsessing? What makes it worse is that I'm kind of pissed off - if he wasn't ready for the result (emotional or sexual), then he should have kept his mouth shut. I also feel sad, because this person is more like me than 95% of people I've met - similar personality, likes/dislikes, values, etc...

So now what do I do? It's not a problem of keeping myself busy - school/work takes up a lot of my time, I go to the gym, bookstores, concerts, etc... but I'm having a hard time concentrating on anything. You might suggest that I get together with friends to get my mind off this for a bit, but I don't have many right now - I was a very typical hibernate at home with the s.o. type.

Instead, I'm hoping that AskMe will come through for me again, as it has in the past. Be kind or not, as you see fit. If you need to contact me :
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (7 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Resolve your marriage situation first. Decide if you want to get back together or divorce and then do whatever you decide.

If divorce, don't jump into another relationship, spend a bit of time getting over the death of your marriage.

Keep in contact with the high school flame, but keep it cool. Remember, you're just friends,
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:10 AM on October 9, 2007

I wish I knew how to get over a crush/love! One book that I find helpful is Byron Katie's "I need your love - is that true?" It makes a lot of sense and calms me down and seems to help, at least in spurts.

Also, a good general purpose mantra: "this too shall pass"

Good luck!
posted by Salamandrous at 9:11 AM on October 9, 2007

Quick interjection to lead into my main response: Your situation sucks and I feel for you, but...
I'm kind of pissed off - if he wasn't ready for the result (emotional or sexual), then he should have kept his mouth shut., fuck you. He had a right to be honest as do you. You told this fella you loved him too, in the 'very first IM.' Why? You thought you'd get a relationship out of it? You thought 15 years of pining would go *ping* and turn into fairy dust to bless your new union? Nah: because it needed to be said, because you're both better off not carrying stuff like that around (unless you're planning on writing novels about it, etc.). Better to be honest about it, right? Well you were honest - good for you guys - but be fair: now you're the one obsessing, and going to see him to tell him you don't want to see him, and unable to concentrate, and saying things like...
You might suggest that I get together with friends to get my mind off this for a bit, but I don't have many right now - I was a very typical hibernate at home with the s.o. type.
...when you know quite well that you need to do exactly what you're saying you can't/won't do. You sure don't need 'many' friends to get out of the house and blow off steam! Nor to do some random fun activity in the city, nor to ruminate in a heightened or denuded sensory environment, nor to talk to your husband about it (could he give advice in this situation? Would his support/criticism be helpful to you, or are you guys at a stage where that sort of straightforwardness is impossible?). You're not gonna get over it overnight as you know, you'll get over it by replacing this system of thinking with others - which might mean writing about it, or traveling (about it!), or dancing a lot, or thinking hard about why you never hooked up in 15 years until now, or talking to your family and mutual friends, or building something that takes three months, or making new friends who don't have any link to this drama and just want to get to know you in fullness, or...

You're presumably obsessing because fifteen fun years of repression just got slapped in the face with the cold herring of Mere Life. The answer to that, as to so many problems, is More Life - get to the point where you don't need this preoccupation, fill yourself with something new. Only you can know the particulars of your passions, and friends can help you embrace them. Or club members, or neighbours, or anonymous freaky deaky sex partners, and so variously forth.

Speculation: I wouldn't be surprised if this fella got at least part of what he wanted: the 15-years-on dalliance with the unresolved high school friend-with-tension. He's met another woman online? Sounds like he's kept his options open. It also sounds like he sees something between you that won't work, long-term. Do you see it? If he's wrong he's wrong, but ask yourself straightfaced: could it ever work? You're an adult and can definitely muster the strength to stop wishing for the impossible in this situation. (You can also muster the strength to change your approach to this fella if it's not impossible - again, only you can know those particulars.)

Even more broadly, the way to get over things like this is structurally consistent from situation to situation, it seems to me: time + purgation + distraction + externalization (perspective, i.e. altering the formal structure of your thinking about the situation through exercises or altered experiences) + more time. Plus maybe bourbon and a new TV, I dunno. And the formulae seem somewhat predictable: you're more open to distraction when purged of preoccupation, more open to a shift in perspective given time, more likely to confront your feelings afresh in a new formal framework, etc. For each of those elements you choose the instance most comfortable and productive for you. The way out of bad preoccupations is to create new good ones - which might for you mean analysis, or randomness, or displacement, or (sigh) prayer.

I guess the above - for the length of which, uh, sorry - boils down to nothing more than: We lie to ourselves all the time. You should learn how to enter into situations where you no longer need or want to do so, so as to see the situation with this guy for what it is. When you've seen it fully, empathized with his position as best you can, then you can respond to it authentically - and if that means going after him one more time because you know he's the best fella you're gonna find, then go for it. More likely, I suspect, it'll mean acknowledging what this infatuation is doing to and for you, and finding some other sustainable way-of-being to replace it. That's not a small thing and I know it's easy as hell for me to type things when you're the one who's got to decide how to live with this whole ridiculous scene, but I believe such a change of mind will serve you long after this situation has passed. Which, as Sal has pointed out, it will do in time.
posted by waxbanks at 10:03 AM on October 9, 2007 [3 favorites]

Pick a routine, as you have, with exercise and reading (add a yoga class and a weights class if they aren't included).

Stick to the routine. No matter what. Fight for the routine. It will carry you through this. Time will provide you with a tolerance for your passion.

Your inner life and relationships will order themselves. Worship the routine.
posted by ewkpates at 10:29 AM on October 9, 2007 [1 favorite]

Wow...this post and the following responses, albeit I thought a little over the top, were for me, rather interesting and insightful...a little eye opening.

Let me preface with saying that I recently experienced a similar situation; different of course, but the basic concept is there.

What struck me was: "Sounds like he's kept his options open. It also sounds like he sees something between you that won't work, long-term. Do you see it?"

My thought to you is that whether your man of interest is incorrect or not in assuming that you two would not be good/happy/fulfilled together doesn't matter. And I know how positively frustrating it feels to not know why or to be given specifics that you would be able to challenge and debate. But simply: He is pursuing other people. He is KEEPING HIS OPTIONS OPEN. You should as well. So very cliche but incredibly true the fact that there are many many fish in the sea. As hard as it may be to believe, there is someone else out there with which you will feel as strong of a connection, a kindred spirit and an uncanny similarity within yourself. It is not only possible but highly likely. I would almost bet my life on it.

EVERYTHING, I believe, happens for a reason. Maybe that man is an inspiration to get out there and find the person that you have been longing to share your life with.... As much as you may feel that it is him, you met him in school. You met him at a time when your emotional capacities and mentalities were being developed. It's natural to feel such a connection to that time and person. For him to no longer entirely reciprocate your responses means something.

I also give excuses for people, rationalize and overly analyze in a fashion that makes what people are doing to me ok... So that my reality or what I am hoping to be my reality is still a possibility.

You can't stop obsessing, because as others have said, it will take more time.

They are also correct in that you need to figure out your current relationship, repair or end it before you can move on. If this man does not want to be with you, would you want to mend things with your husband? If so, you are interested for the wrong reasons and need to work on things internally before you can ever treat anyone as they deserve. If you want to end your marriage regardless of what happens with this guy, then you need to do that. Focus on that and accomplishing before trying to move on or involve anyone else in that circumstance. Maybe that has something to do with why he is becoming unavailable to you.

On another note: If it is absolutely killing you to not share your feelings with this man...then do. But know that it may not be greeted with the response that you are hoping and you may feel more emotionally stripped than having moved on without expressing yourself. Only you can really know the answers to the questions that you ask. It does help to talk about it... I understand. Like I said, I just recently went through this myself....a friend of mine is also in a very similar situation. I think that this is not uncommon, but a normal process and lesson in life that many people experience. I'm reading the book "He's just not that into you." It's funny to me. And a friend gave it to me in good spirit.

Everything that I have just expressed could be taken as absolute bullshit if it's not what you want to hear. I may be way out in left field. Trouble is, only you know what is right. Only you know what you should do and how you should handle this emotionally charged situtation. You will learn and become a stronger and more beautiful individual regardless of what you decide... That will also make you more appealing to whoever you end up with.

And at the very least, just think to yourself, he's an idiot.

I realized how silly it was to care about an individual that didn't really care about me (or not that I know or have been shown). Personally, I decided that I have too little time in my day and way too many interests and potentials to waste my time wondering and thinking about the could haves would haves and should haves. It is now, we are in the present... Could/would/should, too late. Peace out to those that choose to miss out, and thank them for not taking all of your time so that it was not wasted for the amazing people that you have yet to meet.
posted by NotInTheBox at 11:04 AM on October 9, 2007 [3 favorites]

Just for the record:
EVERYTHING, I believe, happens for a reason.
You will learn and become a stronger and more beautiful individual regardless of what you decide...
And at the very least, just think to yourself, he's an idiot.
I disagree so strongly with these statements they make me want to explode, even allowing that the third might be comedy rather than serious advice; I'm not convinced they contribute in general (rather than as exceptions) to better, more sustainable living; but they don't take away much from NotInTheBox's otherwise inspiring response. It may comfort you to think your infatuee (coinage?!) a fool, but if he's got a shot at love or a dalliance with you and he's not taking it, you'd damn well better figure out why not. Knowing is better, here. Maybe no revelation about your True Self is coming, but at worst you'll spend some time thinking through what you are to others, in maybe a new way.

(The worst thing I've ever done was also the biggest learning experience of my life. It's nearly always that way, I imagine. Dark misfortune makes every lesson starker.)
posted by waxbanks at 2:07 PM on October 9, 2007

"(The worst thing I've ever done was also the biggest learning experience of my life. It's nearly always that way, I imagine. Dark misfortune makes every lesson starker.)"

waxbanks - you just proved the first two comments, that you vehemently appealed from what I was saying, to be correct.

Of course, you are welcome to disagree with everything happening for a reason and people growing through each experience, as most people tend to reject...maybe because they don't want to entertain the idea that the bad things (and obviously good) in their life are also what has made them stronger, more unique and diverse, empathetic, caring, and etc. individuals. Simply: it has made them who they are today. And why continue to be if you can not be happy (in most part) with who you have become. Life is too short to regret.

Sure, I still wonder what will come of my relationships, mainly the man in relation to Anon's story, but I HAVE to think that he is missing out. He is an idiot. There is comedy and truth in that. I am a desireable and amazing person...(not tooting a horn...we are all desireable). So, if he is not able to see that, I'm not going to waste my time trying to show him...especially having spent time with him. Because for Pete's sake, there is positively so much more in life to see, share, and do. Yes, I would love a partner that is my best friend and who would like to see share and do right along with me... But I have already found amazing people that are intruiging me. I just had to try.

To say that a revelation about the true self is not necessarily coming is only because you are not willing to accept the revelation... Or whatever there is to be taken out of the situation. Every person has the ability to alter their perception or rearrange their reality in a way that can benefit themselves and/or others; even from the very worst or mundane of circumstances.

Granted, it is much easier to say all of this than do it. I'm not going to try and convince you, for any duration of time, that I have overcome and am profoundly enlightened. I just want to share where I have come in my similar experience. I think the people that influence us, inspire, and greatly effect our lives will never entirely be out of mind... Then what we have learned would be lost.

Anon - I wish you clarity and happiness in your decision.
posted by NotInTheBox at 7:25 AM on October 10, 2007

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