I Have Been Holding Out for My Crush for Over 20 Years

I Have Been Holding Out for My Crush for Over 20 Years
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In 8th grade I developed my first crush. She was all I could think about but I was too scared to ever talk to her. I was thinking and hoping it would be easier in high school. It wasn’t. There were attractive girls and some even expressed interest in me, however I was not interested in any of them as I still could only think of my crush.

Sophomore year of high school I developed a new crush. Another girl I could not stop thinking about. It lasted about one and a half years and once again I could not talk to her. If she tried to talk to me, I was practically paralyzed.

If figured maybe college would be better. I was approached by some women, but once again I was not interested in any of them.

In the meantime, I still was still too scared to reach out to my crush and was hoping to maybe run into her somewhere somehow, even though I knew almost nothing about her or how to find her. However, I never felt similarly about anybody else.

I did go to bars or parties but was never interested in anyone to ask them out.

I did go on some dates, usually some suggestions from friends of family, but once again they went nowhere as I had no interest in any of them.

A little under 10 years after high school, a friend did try calling her, but it was too late and she was getting married.

I have tried dating sites like Match and eHarmony and even apps like Tinder, but it never goes anywhere as I don’t feel anything and physical attraction is not enough for me and never was.

It has been over 20 years since high school. I have never seen or had any contact with my crush. I still go on dates and do as many different things as I can, but I have no interest in anyone else. If anything, I recently started thinking more about her than before.

So how can I get over her and finally develop a feeling for someone else?

Michael      

Michael, thanks for recounting your painful story. It takes a lot of courage to put yourself out there like that and I appreciate you walking me through your history.

This is the part where I’m going to remind you that I’m a dating coach who happens to have a blog.

This is the part where I’m going to remind you that I’m a dating coach who happens to have a blog. Although I’ve doing this for 16 years, I’m not a licensed therapist and don’t even pretend to be one on TV. After answering probably 600 questions on this site, I sometimes feel like I’ve seen it all, but letters like yours remind me that I haven’t – and I’m really not qualified to tell you what to do next, besides “get a licensed therapist.”

That doesn’t mean I don’t have an opinion; it just means that what you’ve described is extreme behavior and falls outside the realm of “normal” problems I tend to help clients navigate on their journey to creating healthy long-term relationships.

Your situation is, well, different.

You seem to have turned your 8th grade crush into a fantasy and anchored so closely to the fantasy that you’ve made it into your thirties without ever having a love life.

I can only imagine how hard that is on you – and can only imagine how deeply you must feel about this woman for you to forgo all other possibilities for two decades.

But here’s the thing, Michael: fantasy is not reality.

The woman you have a crush on is now married.

Even if she wasn’t married, the idea that she’d respond to a stranger who was lurking in waiting for twenty years is virtually unthinkable.

You think you have feelings for her but whatever you’re feeling, they’re not feelings for HER since you don’t actually know her. She is, quite literally, a fantasy of your own making. Whatever qualities you think she possesses (apart from physical ones) are almost exclusively drawn from your imagination.

I know that may be hard to take, but it’s true. What further complicates things is that you’ve had so little experience with other women (because you’ve been holding out for your crush) that you don’t even have an inkling of what other women are actually like.

It’s like you saw an ice cream cone when you were 13, never tasted it, but decided to go on a hunger strike until you ran into that same exact ice cream cone. No wonder you’re malnourished. You have unintentionally sidelined yourself from developing your taste in women while everyone else was busy getting real-life experience with real-life people.

And that’s the biggest flaw in your plan, Michael: there are a bunch of things that seem to have never occurred to you. Like, is she a nice person? Or, is she emotionally healthy and a good communicator? Or, does she practice the same religion or want to have children? Or, do you enjoy her personality and sense of humor? Even if you’re aligned on all of these things, the other thing that never seemed to break your spell was that, in all likelihood, she wasn’t going to like you back – not in the short-term and not in the long-term.

Hate to break it to you, but it’s true.

The shy stalker never actually gets the girl of his dreams.

So while you’ve tortured yourself these many years, waiting for some new woman to tantalize you out of your eighth-grade stupor, what you were actually doing is playing it safe. By not giving a chance to other women, you get to believe your built-in excuse that “nobody else is attractive,” or “I’m not interested in anybody else,” when, in fact, there are tons of attractive women out there, if you actually gave them a shot. Alas, not giving anyone a chance is your safe zone. Your logic – to you – is unassailable. Who can argue with a man who has such high standards for female company?

I can.

I have sympathy for you, my friend, but not so much that I’m going to let you off the hook for your predicament. You’ve avoided rejection for the past twenty years by never showing interest in anybody – primarily because they can’t compare to your fantasy cipher who you don’t really know. It’s time to drop that story.

You wasted two decades of your life.

Don’t waste any more.

Go out with a woman – any woman – with an open mind and forget your crush ever existed.

I promise: she’s already forgotten that you did.

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Comments:

  1. 1
    Emily, to

    A lot of people have crushes. Powerful crushes. I thought it was mostly women who did until reading this, but sometimes you have to go for different options if the option you really want isn’t interested or available.

    1. 1.1
      Emily G.

      I absolutely agree with your comment. In my life there was a similar situation in relation to a man. I loved him for 10 long years, I did not pay attention to anyone. Meanwhile, he did not pay attention to me. It was complicated. It was a “sick” love. It exhausted me, made me feel depressed, feeling a constant stress and anxiety. I even decided to go to a psychotherapist to cope with my emotional instability. Btw, this article helped me to find a good one – https://www.depressionalliance.org/psychiatrist-near-me/. As a result, it really helped me. Not immediately certainly, but it helped to realize that this was not love, it was the same “ice cream that I had never tried,” it was a “sickness”. Do not take this “love” serious! Listen to the advice of the author and you will succeed!

    2. 1.2
      sylvana

      Emily,

      he IS actively dating. And he says that the women he dates are attractive. I don’t see how much else he can do. He obviously IS going tor different options. They just don’t appeal to him. Or at least not enough for him to either let go of the crush, or sacrifice his single life.

      What other options does he realistically have? To enter a relationship with a woman he feels “meh” about? That might help him eventually (or not), but I feel very bad for the woman in that situation.

      Overall, I wonder if he has a problem with sexual attraction or relationship attraction. He did mention that he wasn’t physically attracted to the women available to him to date. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s not sexually attracted to women he has no interest in dating. He wasn’t clear on that. It does seem like his main goal is to develop feelings for a woman.

  2. 2
    MilkyMae

    This is very sad but lots of people hold out for years. This guy has name and a face that he can’t get. What if he held out for someone who doesn’t exist? What if didn’t hang on to an old crush but instead just waited for the perfect match or floundered around for two decades without kissing anyone? Or just acted like a jerk. The result is the same. I think there are lots of people like him but they confabulate more reasonable explanations. At least this guy knows he has a problem.

  3. 3
    Yet Another Guy

    I personally cannot believe that any man does not find a large percentage of the female population attractive. In my humble opinion, the LW sounds like he is emotionally stunted and/or has arousal issues. He appears to be living in a fantasy world that does not exist. He needs to see a mental health professional.

    1. 3.1
      sylvana

      YAG,

      he didn’t say that. He even said that the women he went on dates with were attractive. He’s just not attracted to them. He’s also not physically attracted to the ones who are available for him to date. Which doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s the majority of women, it just means those who he CAN date.

      He was writing because he wants to develop feelings for a woman. That was his main concern. So it’s hard to tell whether sexual attraction is an issue in general, although I give you that it might well be. But we don’t know if he’s having sex or not, or if he’s masturbating to porn every night or not. We just know that he’s not entering relationships. Which mean his hang-up might be strictly emotional, or it might be caused by lack of arousal.

      We also don’t know how he was raised. Religious or cultural believes could easily muddle the picture further.

      Either way, I agree that a therapist might be able to help him.

      1. 3.1.1
        Yet Another Guy

        @Sylvana

        I find it difficult to believe that any man does not encounter women in his day-to-day activities that he finds to be attractive. Men are just not that selective. Men find 80% of the female population to be of at least average attractiveness. I have dated my fair share of Barbies in my lifetime, but that has never been my standard of beauty. Barbies usually come with a huge downside, so while they are nice to look at, it is usually a “no, just hell no” situation. The next tier down is much larger and the difference in beauty is not that radical. It is usually a difference in how much of their time is spent on making themselves beautiful. I find two out of every ten women to be very beautiful and four out of ten women to be worth pursuing based strictly on their physical appearance. Factor in women whose looks are just average, but have that make you surrender to their demands cute smile, and I can honestly say that I find at least 50% of the female population to be attractive enough to date, and I am a guy who has always been blessed with options. Maybe, I have options because I find so many women to be attractive? 🙂 To me, it is incomprehensible that a mentally/physically healthy man does not find a large percentage of the female population to be attractive. Women can be that selective when it comes to looks, but not men. However, that phenomenon can be explained by the “sexy son hypothesis.” There is no
        comparable mate selection strategy for men.

        1. sylvana

          YAG,

          once again, being sexually attractive does not equal being compatibility attractive. Could he date them just for their looks and sex? Sure. But that wouldn’t get him any closer to his goal of developing feelings (other than lust). And who knows? For all we know, he could be out, getting laid every night.

          I do agree with you that this guys obviously has serious issues, and that they could well be related to low sex drive. But even with him being a man, I would not rule out that there might be a great separation between what he finds sexually attractive and what he finds attractive in terms of compatibility. And if he cannot find a person that has enough attractiveness of both sides in one package, he’s left with no women overall that he’s attracted enough to try to start something serious with.

        2. Lynx

          YAG: “Maybe, I have options because I find so many women to be attractive? ”

          This is perhaps the most useful dating insight I’ve read. It speaks to a fundamental truth about forging strong relationships of any kind: be interestED, not interestING.

        3. Mrs Happy

          YAG has options because he is interested in lots of women AND he is good looking, confident, tall, smart, and has a good body, and money (which he spends on women). Having just the first characteristic (interested in many women) just makes him like most men. It’s the 2nd group that massively increases his options. He is just being modestly coy writing only the first on the list.

        4. Emily, to

          Mrs. H,
          ” It’s the 2nd group that massively increases his options. ”
          I’m tired of hearing about “men with options” as if it’s an exclusive group. I went to a book club meeting the other night and one of the women was talking about three men she was hooking up with and/or dating (I didn’t ask specifically). She was neither fit nor especially attractive, but she prioritized dating and was active on the dating sites. She had options as did, I’m assuming, the 3 men she was seeing. Almost EVERYONE has options. This notion that only the top 20% of men does is not true. We can argue on the quality of options, but options are options.

        5. Mrs Happy

          ETO, I think some men are much, much more successful with women than others. YAG was being a bit of a (charming) rascal with his comment; he knows exactly why he has options, he has researched this stuff to death.
          I don’t think everyone is awash with options – the options they want, at least.
          But having options is by no means an exclusive group. Most women, and lots of men, have numerous options.

        6. Emily, to

          Mrs. H,
          I stand by my statement. 🙂 Everyone has options. It doesn’t make one unique or special. Now, awash in options or awash in great options… he’d have to look like Brad Pitt, who took off his shirt in his last 2 movies and looked fantastic. I have yet to meet another 50-something man who looks that good. He’s an anomaly. Like Christie Brinkley.

        7. Yet Another Guy

          @ETO

          You can disagree as much as you want, but you are not a man. Most men either do not have options or they have limited options. Having sex with overweight, unattractive women is not considered to be options to most men. In fact, women a guy would not introduce to his friends are not considered to be options. They are maintenance sex. Conversely, women cannot consider men who only having sex with them options. Getting laid as a woman is ridiculously easy, not so much so as a man, which is why men will often lower their standards, often ridiculously so. For men, the only women who count as options are women who are of “girlfriend” quality. For women, the only men who count as options are men who will commit. All other men are settling for less than they want for easier sex.

          One last thing, while I may not be Brad Pitt, my success with attractive “quality” women is way higher than that of the average guy. Every time I compared notes with other guys my age, they could not believe the women who were extending “likes” and initiating conversations. You may not to believe it, but it is true. My girlfriend could not believe how many likes and messages I received when we shared what Match looked like for us at start of our relationship. In fact, she was quite intimidated. The reason why there are players on dating sites is because of the disparity in options men experience. A man cannot treat women poorly unless he has a queue. Women do in fact focus their attention on a small subset of men. There is no disputing it. It has been documented.

        8. shaukat

          @Emily

          “She was neither fit nor especially attractive, but she prioritized dating and was active on the dating sites.”

          I’m not sure if you’re being sincere with this comment. You’re comparing apples to oranges. An average woman having sexual options has nothing to do with an average man having sexual options. For a woman to have sexual options all she has to do is not be deformed then and go to a bar alone. Many men will have sex with at least 60% of the women they meet. Not true with women. You’re a perfect example, how many men do you find attractive? You don’t even date. So the woman at your book club is likely just fielding messages and then making herself available.

        9. Emily, to

          I can think of four married male friends/acquaintances, all relatively average looking, tell me they have been propositioned more than once. If married guys are getting hit on (they’re obviously flirting and encouraging but not full-throttle pursuing. I know because one of them came on to me and it was a pretty weak solicitation), then single guys who put forth even minor effort should have no problem. And 2 of these guys are in their 60s.

        10. Mrs Happy

          I vote for 2019 comment of the year to go to Shaukat for this one:
          “For a woman to have sexual options all she has to do is not be deformed then and go to a bar alone.”

        11. Yet Another Guy

          @shaukat

          I guess that what ETO and other women who are under the same impression do not realize is that women usually go more attractive than they can get to commit when it comes to NSA sex (which can be explained by the “sexy son hypothesis”). The only way that that is possible is if guys are willing to go the other way when it comes to NSA sex. It is the reason why most guys are acutely aware of their SMV whereas most women do not have a clue as to where they fall within the female social hierarchy. How else would women hit on guys with whom they do have a chance other than sex? The same women will turn around and claim that they were played. They were not played, just clueless. It is a case of one cannot fix stupid when a woman does it over and over again. It is like guys who were never successful with women before they achieved significant status going after hot women and then claiming that they were used for their money and status. They were not used, they were just clueless. Sure, non-hot men with status can get hot women, but they better go into it with their eyes wide open.

          Once again, the only women who count as options for a man are those of the quality to whom he would commit. They rest are just dating down in looks for easier sex. The only men who count as options for a woman are men who would commit because women almost never date down in looks for NSA sex. Options determine a person’s SMV.

        12. Lynx

          “Options determine a person’s SMV.” — YAG

          And options increase when one has a higher propensity to be genuinely interested and open to others. Haven’t we all gone through phases where it feels really easy to meet others, and phases where it feels much harder — same person, same place, same SMV, but a different mindset. Or is it just me?

          I’ve had the experience (more than once) where a friend pointed out that a guy had been hitting on me and I honestly didn’t notice, because I was in a phase where I was just really wrapped up in my thoughts. So maybe it is just me, but I’ve experienced a huge difference in options based on where my head was at.

        13. Yet Another Guy

          @Lynx

          “And options increase when one has a higher propensity to be genuinely interested and open to others. Haven’t we all gone through phases where it feels really easy to meet others, and phases where it feels much harder — same person, same place, same SMV, but a different mindset. Or is it just me?”

          Just because a person has checked out of the process does not mean that he/she does not have real options. It is just a matter of not feeling like acting upon one’s options. A person can also be too inexperienced to notice his/her options. Back in my early twenties, I had a lot of options that I did not notice. I was too inexperienced to notice the subtle cues that women often give when they are interested. I had managed to shake off being that clueless by time I reached age 25. 🙂

  4. 4
    Malika With an L

    Dear LW, I am sorry that you spent twenty years with an unrequited crush. It is very easy to blame yourself in this situation but if you reach out and seek the right help for you, I am sure you will find which influences in your life led to you having this imaginary great love in your head and be able to conquer them. You are not alone, even if it feels that way right now. Many people struggle with getting beyond crushes. People you would not think would have this problem struggle with it in silence. It is possible to break out of this cycle, I am an example of that. If i can do it, anyone can do it, but it does take a long time and getting over setbacks.

    While I spent my twenties and thirties dating profusely, i never admitted to anyone (not even my own therapist) that what was really holding me back was a series of crushes on men who for a variety of reasons were just not that into me. Literally decades went by whereby i couldn’t open up my mind and heart because i would end up having an very intense crush on some random person which typically lasted 2-3 years. The only thing that would cure the crush was the ebb of time and meeting some other person my mind then latched on to for another 2-3 years. In real life i dated men but i never developed any serious feelings or invested time in cultivating a relationship as my real estate was completely taken up by my imaginations of this vision of perfection I had about some guy.

    In my early thirties i kinda ended up in what would be your dream scenario: I dated my ultimate high school crush. I bumped into him at a nightclub, euphorically gave him my phone number, he thought it was flattering that a woman would do that and after months of intermittent messaging we met and started a casual relationship for nine months. He stated he wasn’t looking for love due to a breakup and i was just happy to receive crumbs and to finally date one of my crushes. The nine months flew by quickly and while at first i was almost insanely euphoric i gradually realized he was nothing like the image i had in my head. Although a wonderful guy in his own right, he couldn’t live up to the vision i had of him. After nine months i broke it off. He tried to talk me out of it as we had drawn very close, but i knew i couldn’t give him what he wanted which was being wanted for him, and not some concoction in my head of him.

    This did not completely cure me (two crushes of 2-3 years followed on his heels) but i finally started to wake up and realize that while other people were growing up my love life was still in this childlike limbo. I did not know who to turn to because i was thoroughly embarassed by it but finally i went to forums where people talked about serial crushing and read this website religiously. I realized my introvert disposition and chaotic family background made crushes the ultimate safety mechanism and I started breaking out with the help of this blog and OKcupid. It took another four years but i am now crush free and with a man i truly love (and who loves me!).I lost my virginity at the grand old age of 37 to a man who is amazing in every way and the relationship keeps getting better and better.

    Great things lie in store for you because you were daring enough to write this letter. It might be one of the most important actions you have ever done. Give yourself a pat on the back as you have taken the first step to get out of this cycle.

    1. 4.1
      S.

      @Malika with an L

      Thank you too, for being brave enough to share your story. It does help to actually date the crush! They can never live up to the fantasy, at least not for long. And look how that turned, he was asking you not to break up with him!

      That said, the letter writer is fixated on one person. And he probably won’t end up dating her.

      I think you are right about the safety too. For some reason, the LW feels safe with the fantasy of this girl. Sometimes it’s helpful to get out of one’s comfort zone. It’s really hard to do. Glad you had support.

      My last crush was my last. It only lasted a month. Wow. He really proved not to be who I wanted him to be. I’m still finding that out. The cure is actually getting to know people for who they really are. And letting go of the fantasy of who you think they are. This is true of non-crushes, just dating in general. Just seeing who they really are and evaluating based on that.

      1. 4.1.1
        Emily, to

        S.,
        “My last crush was my last.”
        How do you work that? I get telling yourself intellectually “I’m not doing this to myself again,” in terms of developing crushes, but how do you control your feelings?

        1. S.

          Well, my *last* for a while. I was getting them every time I traveled and I traveled a fair bit this year. But the last trip, I was like, “No ma’am.” And I managed not to.

          Nooooow. There is a line between finding someone consistently attractive and having a crush. I will admit that’s a murky line for me as I crush on men I meet and know daily. I spend time with them, talk to them. I think the difference is how far the fantasizing gets. I know the difference for me. And I’m reining that in. Why? Fantasizing is normal but not like this LW when it replaces interacting with people in real life in a romantic way.

          I’d rather fantasize about someone I’m actually dating. In a way, the early stages of dating are like a crush. But 1) It’s not one-sided and 2) Things get real pretty fast. I’d rather that for now.

          So again, it’s my last for now. Besides, I have more traveling and work goals to focus on in the next several months. And I’ve never been good at multitasking. I can buckle down and shut the attraction stuff to a minimum if I want.

          How? I just get really, real laser focused. And I get really really realistic. I only see the negative things about people I would usually find attractive. They are still cute but I focus on other things. I also let myself fantasize about someone I make up. Not a real person. (Is that a crush?) So if I have some feelings left over I transfer it to that, not a real guy. I really, have to have a lot of control but I do. Then after awhile that becomes a habit and it’s not as difficult.

          Sometimes I let an attraction run its course. It’s another option than the above. I let myself feel everything, fantasize to my heart’s content. But I also allow myself to get to know this guy. (He is generally clueless.) And then it’s like chewing gum for a long time. It just starts to lose its flavor. Or he turns to be gay, have a girlfriend, or I just see him in a unattractive light. Or how he could not fit into my life.

          Sometimes hormones have to have their head. But reality really can douse water on them. I’m not 16 anymore. I’m clear what I want in my life.

          Lastly, I was starting to crush on younger men. Then I read Demi Moore’s memoir, particularly about her marriage to Ashton Kutcher. That didn’t help as much as the first two strategies but I keep that in mind too.

        2. Emily, to

          S.,
          “There is a line between finding someone consistently attractive and having a crush.”
          Actually, I think there’s a pretty big line. There are several men at work I think are cute but they don’t hang in my mind. Crushes will hang in my mind. I’ll start to plot and plan to run into them, think about how I’ll dress and wear my hair to attract them, ponder lines I may say when I see them, etc.
          “Or he turns to be gay, have a girlfriend, or I just see him in a unattractive light.”
          When I learn the person isn’t available, I decide I’m not going to do anything, but that doesn’t stop the feelings. I have one now who isn’t available but he is so flirtatious, grabbing my arm, touching my knee, yanking my chair over so it’s right next to his. And the things he says to me … And it’s a game, and I know that, but he shows up and I start to drool on myself.
          “Sometimes hormones have to have their head. But reality really can douse water on them. I’m not 16 anymore. I’m clear what I want in my life.”
          Hormones exist to make your body turn on your mind. 🙂
          “Lastly, I was starting to crush on younger men. Then I read Demi Moore’s memoir, particularly about her marriage to Ashton Kutcher..”
          That’s one disease I don’t have. 🙂 The young ones don’t do much for me. Plus, Ashton Kutcher is so not my type.

        3. S.

          “I think are cute but they don’t hang in my mind. Crushes will hang in my mind. I’ll start to plot and plan to run into them, think about how I’ll dress and wear my hair to attract them, ponder lines I may say when I see them, etc.”

          Exactly! It’s the fantasy that makes them crushes. But since I do see some of my former crushes, I’ve learned how to take it down. It seems impossible at first, but it’s possible. For the men, I was attracted to early on, I always will be. But I temper it. For the men where the attraction came later out of a situation or something, then it goes back to where I was when I met them.

          What stops it for me is playing the situation out to its logical conclusion. Am I going to marry this guy? Would I be a good wife for him? If not, then I get less attracted. Will I try to break up a happy couple? No way. So then I stay away from him, really. Usually, these situations do coincide with meeting another guy who I am attracted to. Then it’s easy peasy to move on. If my attraction was more oriented to looks, I’d probably find more people to distract myself quicker. Since I have to know something of them first . . . it takes longer.

          And my fantasies aren’t just about sex. They are about having a life. Watching TV and him throwing a blanket around me. Him supporting me in my life’s work. Joining me in my spiritual practice. If I can’t see that after a bit . . . attraction can go down if I focus on those things. The things that don’t work. Attraction isn’t necessarily forever. Emphasize the negative. 😉

          Things are most difficult when I’m ovulating. Sometimes I literally have to stay away from certain people. But then those days pass. Emily, how do you get past your crushes?

          “That’s one disease I don’t have. The young ones don’t do much for me. Plus, Ashton Kutcher is so not my type.”

          You’re being a bit too literal. Ashton Kutcher isn’t my type, either. But the point is getting a crush on men so much younger. I know why, though. They are still optimistic and haven’t been crushed by love or work. No major upsets yet. They still believe in change and work hard for change in the world. The young ones I was crushing on were active in social justice. I don’t see many men in their 50s (especially men of color) on the front lines out there. That’s really attractive to me lately.

          So no, it’s not about looks or Ashton Kutcher. This is S.! LOL. There are also very few men in their 50s who really want to listen to what I have to say. To take the time to listen. The men I meet have so much to say. Gosh. And *I* have so much to say. With them, I find that I don’t say much because I realize they aren’t really getting me. The Demi Moore book was helpful because young men are still boys just starting adulthood. So they have their flaws too. It’s a new thing of the past 1.5 years. I always liked older. But now as that range is in their mid-50s we are just in different places in life. They are looking at retirement. I want to work forever. They are done with children. I might want to be a foster parent. I still want to change the world, I still think it’s not too late, like Scrooge when he wakes up on Christmas Day. And it’s been difficult to find men 55 or over who have that same optimism. Who still want to build something new. Which makes me sad to read. But I will find one. Might have to burn the haystack but my needle is out there. 🙂

          (And yes, I’m generalizing. I’m sharing my point of view. I haven’t men ALL men so my point is about what it seems like from my point of view. Not that it’s true of all men everywhere.)

        4. Emily, to

          S.,
          “Sometimes I literally have to stay away from certain people.”
          I’ve done that with certain men. Is is like that for them? Except for the OP, I’ve never heard of a man so heavily fixating on one woman. I highly doubt there are or ever have been men avoiding me because of some intense crush and seeing me riles up their emotions.
          “Emily, how do you get past your crushes?”
          Two ways. Date the person seriously (and discover who they really are. It can’t be casual dating and a situation in which you can’t quite get your hands on him. Elusiveness fuels the crush.) The second way is to develop a crush on someone else. 🙂 I usually only have one crush at a time. I can easily walk away from the other minor attractions/flirtations with male co-workers/friends. I don’t take those seriously. A crush sounds like high school. I’m talking about intense infatuation.
          “You’re being a bit too literal. Ashton Kutcher isn’t my type, either. But the point is getting a crush on men so much younger. I know why, though. They are still optimistic and haven’t been crushed by love or work.”
          I figured he wasn’t your type. I was teasing. I suppose younger men are more optimistic. I just find they seem a bit clueless. They haven’t had enough life experience. No depth. The only thing they have going for them is that they look better. (And I know that doesn’t matter to you. :))
          I hope you find your older optimist. How about an older hippie type? Surely some of those guys still want to change the world.

        5. S.

          @ E to the OG

          Dating them works! But I don’t want to give anyone in the LW’s situation hope. His situation is extreme and needs more intervention. But even regular crushes can just delay your romantic life. But yeah, that works because you get what you think you want. It can break the crush but rarely works out long-term.

          Developing another crush works but that’s not exactly healthy, either. I like my focus method because then I’m not dependent on anyone else to get past it. And I get other important shit done, seriously. Gotta have a well-rounded life.

          I actually think I have two men who like me. One might be a crush and the other is just he likes me. I can tell they find me attractive but I don’t find them attractive. Just nice men. It’s hard to imagine someone crushing hard on me from way, way afar. But I actually meet a lot of men. I made a list of about about ten men who are platonic friends/acquaintances this summer. Odds are at least one or two find me attractive. But it’s not mutual so it not useful to either of us.

          Mutual is the key to everything!

          I don’t mind life experience. If it didn’t make people so bitter about relationships. They don’t get that way about work. But about relationships people sour unless they’ve been happily married for a time.

          Aging hippie? Did you read my comments above? My mental type is more like Randall from This is Us, my physical body type is more like Kenan Thompson from SNL.(He actually looks very much like men I’ve recently dated.) There is no celeb for my spiritual type, though I’m going to see Just Mercy tonight and that real life lawyer would be my more spiritual type. I find people like Naveen Andrews and Daniel Dae Kim seriously hot. In real life I’d get crushes on them, but I can’t see myself marrying them and not because they are famous actors. Just I can’t see it. Anyway, Kenan makes me laugh. I like to laugh too.

          Aging hippie. This is S.!

        6. Emily, to

          S.,
          ” It can break the crush but rarely works out long-term.”
          I’ve had seven serious crushes since high school. I actually spent time with all of them. I’ve never crushed on someone who didn’t know I was alive, though some were quite painful. Got involved with 3. One became an actual boyfriend. And boy did I get over that one fast! Sometimes I even forget I dated him.
          “But I actually meet a lot of men. I made a list of about about ten men who are platonic friends/acquaintances this summer. ”
          Where do you meet these men? Do you know for a fact they were all single? For the last six months, I’ve been more social than I ever have in my life and I rarely meet men. It’s always a ton of women.
          “Did you read my comments above?”
          I read a lot of comments. I can’t remember the precise preferences of every commenter.
          “my physical body type is more like Kenan Thompson from SNL.(He actually looks very much like men I’ve recently dated.)”
          I’m the opposite. I like ’em really skinny.
          ” I find people like Naveen Andrews and Daniel Dae Kim seriously hot. ”
          Naveen Andrews, yes. He smolders. What we need is another Clark Gable. He was a bastard, but he was a steamy bastard. 🙂
          “Anyway, Kenan makes me laugh. I like to laugh too.”
          He’s one of my favorites on SNL.

      2. 4.1.2
        Malika With an L

        However lovely they can be, it is true that they can never live up to the ideal you have in your head. It felt almost as if i was using the object of my crush, it was so obvious that i was using him as a vessel to project all my hopes and dreams on. He is now in a relationship with a woman who can be a healthy and loving partner, i am happy he found someone he deserves.
        I am also happy the crushes are now over. A real life connection is so much richer than that. Letting go of fantasy crushes has made my relationship with my partner so much more fulfilling, it is a blessing to be so present in my current relationship.

    2. 4.2
      Jenn

      Wow, I never thought I’d encounter someone way more intense than me about crushes. I had a similar experience in my early 20s. I was incredibly boy crazy and a bit too obsessed with romance. I don’t know the real reasons why I spent so much time obsessing over these two guys that I pined after, but I spent a year each on them, back to back. And many boxes of tissues.

      Those guys most certainly did not deserve me and I even knew it at the time. The only thing I can chalk it up to was hormones and desperation. I’m glad that I had that experience though, even though it just about killed me that neither guy returned my feelings.

      I was very lucky they didn’t though, as both of them would’ve used and then dumped me. The thing I regret the most is that I was not open to any other men during that time. I had tunnel vision and was so fixated on what I thought were diamonds, when I was ignoring the basket of pearls that was there all along.

      I had other guys interested in me but they could never measure up to the good looks or the charm of the two lunkheads I wasted my energy on. They were always too nerdy, too goofy, too fat, or just weren’t the guys I was fixated on.

      Now, I focus on finding the guys who are into me, not the other way around. It’s much more peaceful that way, and I’m much happier knowing that the guys I date actually are interested in me enough to pursue me.

      1. 4.2.1
        BBQ

        They didn’t want you. But why exactly do you write they didn’t deserve you?
        Because they didn’t want you?
        Out of curiosity did you not deserve any of the men that wanted you but who you didn’t want in return?

        1. Jenn

          BBQ,

          Sigh… NO. The reason they didn’t deserve me is because they were lying creeps. As I found out over the months I spent pining over them, they were a- holes who were stringing me along to try to have sex with me, while both of them knew very well that I was not that kind of girl. One of them even had a girlfriend for several months during the time I was trying to get him to date me, and I only found out about her through a coworker.

          As for the guys who wanted me but I didn’t return their interest, they didn’t deserve a girl who wasn’t into them. I would never have been attracted to them and they deserved a woman who would’ve been. That’s partially why I wouldn’t go out with any of them, in addition to my tunnel vision.

    3. 4.3
      sylvana

      Malika With an L

      Wonderful post

      “In real life i dated men but i never developed any serious feelings”

      How do you know you didn’t develop serious feelings because of the crushes, though? How do you know you didn’t develop serious feelings because you simply weren’t that into the guys?

      I’ve had very few, relatively short relationships (around 1 year). And I have to say that I’ve never developed serious feelings for any of the men. Mostly, because I’ve always dated the logical choice, and attraction for me doesn’t increase over time. So it was “meh” going in and it stayed “meh” throughout the relationship, no matter how nice the guys were. And, obviously, as humans, they were not without their faults. So the relationships ended up being way more effort than they were worth.

      Thankfully, I also rarely have crushes, usually around one every 5 or 6 years, the last one well over 9 years ago, and they don’t last very long. But they also tend to be sexual way more than relationship related. As a matter of fact, most of my crushes I had zero interest in being in an actual relationship with. It wasn’t a romantic crush.

      I usually either want to have sex with them or I want to date them. If a combination of the two ever came along, I could imagine it would be one hell of a crush that would be hard to overcome. And since I already know what it is like to date men who are good relationship partners but I don’t have high sexual chemistry or compatibility with, how exactly do you work through that?

      How do you learn to be happy with way less after feeling that rush? Maybe it’s different if the crush is more romantic/relationship related. In that case, I think you are right: The best way to get over it is to date that person.

      1. 4.3.1
        Malika With an L

        Hi Sylvana,

        Thank you for the compliment.

        ‘How do you know you didn’t develop serious feelings because of the crushes, though? How do you know you didn’t develop serious feelings because you simply weren’t that into the guys?’

        There was simply no room for anything other than the crush. It was heady and the ultimate form of escapism and safety mechanism to walk through life with these very intense feelings of an idealized vision than coming back down to earth and dating real flesh and blood boys/men. It all seemed terribly mundane compared with my fantasy life. It was only after realizing how this was impeding my life that i stepped out of this pattern. And it took years to truly enjoy the company of men and to accept them for exactly who they were. I saw an interview recently with a man who talked about being ‘severely gifted’, ie having a very high IQ. He talked about how we used to come across as borderline aspergers because he lived his whole life in his head, with all its intense imagery. He later realized it was a form of laziness, that observing and partaking of the real world, with all its messiness and inconsistencies lead to his life becoming truly rich. I am no way gifted like him, but the split in his life (head in the clouds/being truly present and connecting) rang such a bell that i am still thinking of this breakthrough.

        ‘How do you learn to be happy with way less after feeling that rush?’

        You talk of feeling meh going into a relationship and that these feelings stay meh. Everybody has to go through their own journey, maybe you are not ready for a relationship, or maybe you haven’t met the right man yet. I struggled with meh for yeeeeeears. The logical choice did nothing for me, but in my case it was because real life could not compare to the stories and therefore expectations i had in my head. I also needed to learn the balance of discerning the sensible sort of man to date who was still exciting to be with. Nearly two years ago i met a man who was the sensible choice AND absolutely wonderful. A real life relationship with a man you truly connect with will not in any way be meh. It actually feels more intense than the crush, it’s just a completely different experience. You forgo the idealisation and rush for a depth of feeling i did not know was possible. It beats pining after a man you cannot have by a country mile.

  5. 5
    BBQ

    To be honest I don’t think a therapist is going to help much here. This man says he’s spent years fixating on a crush and the truth is if he goes to therapy for this he’s likely to spend years fixating on why he had that crush. For more obsessive people, what often happens in therapy is that they retain the original obsession, while also having the obsession of talking about their obsession in therapy. Imo it may hurt more than it helps.

    I’m just wondering if this man has any male friends that could get him into situations where he was around women who he might feel attraction for (even if and perhaps especially if that attraction is just lust).
    Since I’ve just found out that this is a female targeted site, this may not be too popular an idea, but since this man says he feels no attraction to other women because of his crush, I’d even suggest him going to strip clubs or taking it a step further and using an escort, basically try anything that could get those feelings to stir and break him out his limp funk.
    If I was his friend, that’s what I’d be pushing him into. If he needed a little chemical lubrication (or a lot) to get his “courage” up, I’d push that too.

    Ultimately if this man wants a ltr he simply needs to ignore his feelings and enter into one, knowing logically that he will never be with his fantasy crush and acting in spite of his feelings is the best logical decision he can make for his own sanity.

    Here are some words of wisdom from Stephen Stills I feel apply here:
    “Don’t be angry, don’t be sad
    And don’t sit crying over good times you (never) had
    There’s a girl right next to you
    And she’s just waiting for something to do

    And there’s a rose in a fisted glove
    And eagle flies with the dove
    And if you can’t be with the one you love, honey
    Love the one you’re with
    ya gotta love the one your with
    ya gotta love the one your with”

    “Do-do, do do, do do, do-do
    Do-do, do do, do do, do-do
    Do-do, do do, do do, do-do
    Do-do-do, do-do-do”

    1. 5.1
      Emily, to

      BBQ,
      “To be honest I don’t think a therapist is going to help much here. This man says he’s spent years fixating on a crush and the truth is if he goes to therapy for this he’s likely to spend years fixating on why he had that crush. For more obsessive people, what often happens in therapy is that they retain the original obsession, while also having the obsession of talking about their obsession in therapy. Imo it may hurt more than it helps.”
      This is very true. Really, the only way to get over a crush is to distract yourself with someone else, even if the interest is ho-hum. Developing a crush on someone else is probably not a good idea if that person is also not available or disinterested. Repeats the pattern.

    2. 5.2
      sylvana

      BBQ,

      you actually raise an interesting question. I wonder when he said he doesn’t find the women attractive if he was talking about relationship wise, or sexually. He obviously goes on plenty of dates with women, so he’s exposed to enough of them. And since it seems he’s looking for a relationship, him not being attracted might refer to the women available to him for relationships.

      That doesn’t really mean that he doesn’t find other women sexually attractive. Or even that he isn’t having sex. If his general arousal is low, the strip club idea might get something stirring. If it’s more of a problem with a partner or relationships, I honestly don’t know what could help him. .

      1. 5.2.1
        BBQ

        If he’s having sex with these women and is enjoying it, then contrary to popular belief, not developing any feeling toward ANY of them would be very unusual. I’m not saying love or obsession, but at least some warmth and a desire to see them again (even just to continue something casual).

        Tbh, I feel like he may be scared to exit his fantasy world.

        1. sylvana

          BBQ,

          I agree that he’s probably just scared to exit his fantasy world. At least to a certain extend, because he is dating, and therefore is leaving his fantasy world to a certain degree.

          Now, as for having sex with people without developing any feelings toward them? I don’t find that so unusual. As a matter of fact, I don’t think I’ve ever developed feelings (other than friendship) for any of the men I’ve had sex with (even longer term fuck buddies). Because they were either 1) not relationship compatible for me or 2) straight up not men anyone would want to date (well, some chicks are glutton for punishment).

  6. 6
    Mrs Happy

    I think he should try to contact her. The interaction will help him move forward, one way or another. Probably a bit of the fantasy will be burst because he’ll see some side of her that’s not so perfect.
    Then I agree with BBQ and ETO, jump straight back onto the horse, with someone else. In my experience, distraction with the new is a fantastic way to recover from the old.

    1. 6.1
      Emily, to

      Mrs. H,
      “In my experience, distraction with the new is a fantastic way to recover from the old.”
      It sounds like using another person as a human band-aid (and it is), but how many people are fully over one person before they go back on the market? HA HA HA. The question is so ridiculous, I’m not sure why I asked it.

      1. 6.1.1
        Mrs Happy

        With many types of relationship it is probably sensible to view the people as passing through your life. Nobody is there with you for the whole journey. The error I have tended to make in the past, has been to assume, when things are going great with a partner or friend or family member, that everything will stay great, and that person will be in my life in this close way for a never-ending period. Time and again life shows me this isn’t so.

        So by my above comment I don’t at all advocate using people. I just think that if the OP had more interactions with a great(er) number of eligible females, the obsessive crush female would slowly but surely occupy less of his mind.

        I have always found that if I sat at home dwelling on why the relationship or friendship didn’t work, I was semi-frozen and in a worse emotional place, than if I just got on with connecting with my loved ones and any new relationship opportunities that happened along. I know this is not a popular idea, and all sorts of people advocate “working on it”, “taking time to recover”, etc. Well, sure, sometimes, but often not, and for me, never.

        Anyway this is a case where the less he thinks about the crush, the better his life will be. The only way he’ll be able to obsess less, is to replace his imaginary connection with her, with a real or imaginary connection to others, so I think he should aim for the ‘real with others’ option.

        It has been safe and easy for him to live in the fantasy. Confronting the real world with potential rejection and the stressors of maintaining real relationships will be hard for him. I actually think he’ll need therapy support for that process, probably a group therapy given his difficulties interacting, but that’s for him and his clinician to decide.

        1. Emily, to

          Mrs. H,
          “With many types of relationship it is probably sensible to view the people as passing through your life. Nobody is there with you for the whole journey. The error I have tended to make in the past, has been to assume, when things are going great with a partner or friend or family member, that everything will stay great, and that person will be in my life in this close way for a never-ending period. Time and again life shows me this isn’t so.”
          Very true and very disappointing. On a similar note, you can’t pick the people who stick around, either. The people who show up in your life won’t necessarily be the ones you connect with the most. Those people may not have the time or emotional bandwith to be around much.
          “So by my above comment I don’t at all advocate using people. I just think that if the OP had more interactions with a great(er) number of eligible females, the obsessive crush female would slowly but surely occupy less of his mind.”
          I agree in his case. His is an extreme example but his best bet is to get out and about and meet other women. Had he had an actual relationship with this woman, the advice might be different. Then I would say maybe take some time to process it/get over it.

        2. jo

          Mrs Happy – relationships are plain hard. Every kind, not just romantic. I think it’s because we are taught from infancy by media, books, our parents, etc., that relationships are supposed to last FOREVER. Whether it’s marriage or BFFs, that is the message that society sells to us. That is why we fall so hard when relationships fail or drift apart. But maybe that’s just the way of the world – things fall apart, including relationships – and we don’t get that dose of realism early or often enough.

          We all want something to rely on, and a relationship that seems permanent has that sense of reliability. Religions thrive and prosper for the same reason. So do years-long fantasy crushes, as this story shows. Maybe Michael, and we all, can live more easily in the hard real world by dropping expectations of permanence. (Sorry if this sounds cynical… oddly, it’s not too far from many schools of Buddhist thought.)

        3. Emily, to

          Jo,
          “I think it’s because we are taught from infancy by media, books, our parents, etc., that relationships are supposed to last FOREVER.”
          I think most people assume the relationship with their parents, for example, will last forever. Or their kids. Sure, the parents will most likely die first but the relationship is still permanent in the sense that it doesn’t end until death. So if you have parents or kids or extended family, you do have relationships that are, ostensibly, permanent.

        4. S.

          @Jo

          “Maybe Michael, and we all, can live more easily in the hard real world by dropping expectations of permanence. (Sorry if this sounds cynical… oddly, it’s not too far from many schools of Buddhist thought.)”

          While it’s easier said than done, I think you have something here. I think that is the practice. And balancing this with the very real fact that we are a social species and thrive better as a group.

          But that can mean so many different things. It’s sometimes hard to embrace difference or things or people not being what you want. But as Evan says, we can’t control others. We can’t control a lot. We can only control how we react, our own actions.

          I’ve always been willing to accept different kinds of family. The shifts and changes in all relationships used to cut so deep. Still do sometimes. But now I’m practicing with enjoying the present. I’ve had some excellent presents. 🙂 Hell, I could die tomorrow and none of you guys would ever know. But I’ve had so much fun and laughs reading the comments. Frustration too, but I choose to remember the good times. People come and people go.

          It takes practice and I am far from good at flowing with this. Yet, I hope I live a long, long while. If I do, I’m going to lose people. Death, moving, change, some I’ll never know why. But that is what life is.

          Letter Writer, if I were the woman you’re crushing on, “I’d say go and LIVE. I probably would have broken your heart or you would have broken mine. I don’t know you, but try your best and be happy. Life is so short. I’ve found some happiness. Go get some help finding yours.”

          That’s all I’ve got. 🙂

        5. Mrs Happy

          ETO: “I think most people assume the relationship with their parents, for example, will last forever. Or their kids. Sure, the parents will most likely die first but the relationship is still permanent in the sense that it doesn’t end until death. So if you have parents or kids or extended family, you do have relationships that are, ostensibly, permanent.”

          I was considering these relationships when I wrote my comment above. These relationships change a lot. When I was little my mother loved me. The loss of her when I was 5 would’ve been completely devastating. From the time I hit puberty she hated me and did all sorts of horrid things to try and derail my life course. She could die tomorrow and all I’d feel is bewilderment at how she has interacted with me during the last few decades, there wouldn’t be a shred of devastation.

          Similarly with children. I was watching a Graham Norton clip with him interviewing an English woman who is still going strong aged about 75. She seemed happy and content (as much as one can read such from a YouTube video, anyway). In the comments section I was saddened to learn she had lost all 3 of her children to horrible deaths/disease (I think when they were young adults). People who lose all their kids check out of life sometimes. But time has altered the intensity of her loss, and changed her relationship with her children, and now they are part of her past, part of her life journey. But when they died I bet she was inconsolable. And you see giddy retirees all the time tripping around the world with only an occasional thought for their adult children. The ties that bind loosen as children age, I think.

          But ETO, life is more lonely and isolated for those without close supportive family. It’s more on the edge, without a safety net, in a way people with loving families can’t understand. I wonder how much the impetus to pair off comes from seeing friends do it, and not wanting to miss out on that support, especially as friendship circles loosen with the domino marriage effect during peoples’ 20’s and 30’s?

        6. Emily, to

          Mrs. H,
          “The ties that bind loosen as children age, I think.”
          I’m sorry you had such a rough relationship with your mother. I grew up in a toxic family, too. To the point where a few of those relationships I was supposed to be able to rely on weren’t permanent because I removed myself. My situation is extreme, but I’m still baffled as I watch my co-workers interact with their families. It’s the opposite where I live, in the South. People are immersed. Living in the same town as extended family (they’ve never moved away) if not on the same street. First there are the kids, then the grand kids. I know a grown woman who calls her mother TEN TIMES A DAY. And her mother lives down the street.
          ” I wonder how much the impetus to pair off comes from seeing friends do it, and not wanting to miss out on that support, especially as friendship circles loosen with the domino marriage effect during peoples’ 20’s and 30’s?”
          Well, I’m in my 40s, and if I ever do get married (or at least pair up seriously) it will mostly be because I have almost no family. What choice to I have?

        7. Mrs Happy

          ETO, The big positive I see from your post is you get to hear men with the lovely drawling Southern accent on a regular basis. I’m an absolute sucker for attractive accents, I positively swoon. And the men there are … so manly. ETO I would have thought you’d be in heaven!

          And I think lots of people get married because it seems time to, rather than they’ve met the love of their life. Lots of people marry for companionship and connection. Perfectly reasonable.

        8. jo

          S., you seem like such a lovely person, always wanting to fix others’ hurts, and your and Emily’s comments about crushes above made me laugh!

          Emily and Mrs Happy, same here. I wouldn’t call the relationships with my parents toxic (mostly their intentions were good), but their expectations were so grinding that my siblings and I mostly avoid them now. Not ‘permanent’ relationships in any sense of the word. But Emily, you made me realise that maybe they expected that from us kids, and we did not give it, which makes me sad. I guess if parents want close to permanent relationships with their kids, they need to be careful in many ways. What are those mother-daughter pairs getting right, such that the daughter wants to call 10 times a day? (Or who knows, that might irk the mother.)

        9. Emily, to

          S.,
          “Not ‘permanent’ relationships in any sense of the word.”
          But it IS a permanent relationship. Your mother gave birth to you. So from infancy until you’re, what 60, if she lives to, for example, 85, she will be in your life unless you cut her out of it. What friend will have been in your life for 60 years? I’m not talking about keeping your parents at a distance or even the quality of the relationship. They are still in your life and you expect them to be. Until one of you leaves this planet. You don’t expect that longevity of friends. My dad got very sick about 5 years ago. I had 3 friends checking in on me every day and my cousin was also very supportive. You know who’s still in my life 5 years later? My cousin. Again, it’s a family member so the relationship is permanent. The relationships with the friends were, to borrow S’s phrase, “for their time.”
          ” What are those mother-daughter pairs getting right, such that the daughter wants to call 10 times a day? (Or who knows, that might irk the mother.)”
          I don’t think they got it right. The mother raised her to be completely co-dependent. Seems selfish.

        10. Emily, to

          Meant the post above for Jo.

          Mrs. Happy,
          “ETO, The big positive I see from your post is you get to hear men with the lovely drawling Southern accent on a regular basis. I’m an absolute sucker for attractive accents, I positively swoon. And the men there are … so manly. ETO I would have thought you’d be in heaven!”
          Bless your heart, as they say here in the South. You’re thinking of Clark Gable in Gone With the Wind. Swoon worthy, indeed! But all these guys I’m talking about are married. And from what they’ve said, their wives run the show. Sorry. I’ve killed it for you with those 2 sentences, haven’t I? But chivalrous they are. Getting the door, helping me carry things, etc. And I know we’ve debated that topic before on here, but most women are suckers for chivalry.
          “And I think lots of people get married because it seems time to, rather than they’ve met the love of their life. Lots of people marry for companionship and connection.”
          I was just thinking about that the other day. How is it possible that everyone finds their person in their mid- to late 20s/early 30s? I think what I call practical love is much more common than love-of-the-life kind. They’re both single. They both want to marry. They’re compatible. They have similar goals. They have similar backgrounds. They both want children, etc. I think this is true of both men and women.

        11. Jeremy

          Emily, first off, we are ALL codependent to some extent. The pathology is believing that we aren’t. Primates of any sort go crazy or catatonic when isolated. Sapiens included.

          Second, in most of the cases I know of where the mother and daughters are as close as you say, it is due to personality. Not the way they were raised, but inborn temperament. Often surprises both after a rocky adolescence. Those pesky guardian types I like to talk about. Not many of those here on this site.

          Now time for me to get off my phone and out of my head. Off to go para-sailing. Something out of character.

        12. Emily, to

          Jeremy,
          I’m sorry, but I think calling your mother 10 times a day is cray cray. That would drive me crazy if I were that woman’s husband. Cut the cord. I don’t think it has anything to do with being a guardian, though I would imagine that guardian types are more attentive to extended family because, you know, duty, obligation, rules and such … 🙂
          “Those pesky guardian types I like to talk about. Not many of those here on this site.”
          Thank goodness. I might enough of them out in the wild. 🙂

        13. Jeremy

          Ugh. Sooo motion sick right now. Typing with one eye closed.

          It’s not just that such people like to follow rules. It’s that the social fabric is of paramount importance to them. Maintaining connections is the main point of life for them. You say “cut the cord.” But why should what you think matter to anyone but you? The fact that a woman calls her mother several times per day would be off putting to some potential partners, but not to others. My wife has an extremely close relationship with her mother. Who do you think is watching my kids right now as we vacation? How many of our friends express jealously for our pot of gold that is involved and trustworthy grandparents? Pure gold.

        14. BBQ

          Emily, to

          “I’m sorry, but I think calling your mother 10 times a day is cray cray. That would drive me crazy if I were that woman’s husband.”

          That’s ten likely meaningless conversations the husband doesn’t have to nod along and “yes dear” too. And perhaps the mother is just like the daughter in this regard.

          Women who are close to their mothers, sisters or types of women with bff’s are a boon to the “emotionally distant man” (ie – a man).

        15. Mrs Happy

          ETO: “I had 3 friends checking in on me every day and my cousin was also very supportive. You know who’s still in my life 5 years later? My cousin.”

          I got married 10 years ago and when our 10y anniversary arrived a few months ago I decided I’d write the thank you notes to the people who attended our wedding, albeit a tad delayed.
          There were about 70 people at the wedding/reception, mostly friends, perhaps 10 family members. I’m in regular contact now, 10 y on, with only about 10-15 of those 60 friends, and half of those 10-15 are friends of my husband’s who have now become mutual friends. And bear in mind these 60 were our absolute closest people then, because we culled the invitation list ruthlessly to only those we considered important and likely to be friends with us in our futures.
          I didn’t even write the thank you notes. It seems it is a ship that has passed. (I should though. Appalling manners not to, and not the person I want to be.)

          Emily, I feel for you because I have suffered the loneliness you feel for a few stretches when I moved country and cities when younger. I’d love to hear you’re getting married, I do think you’d feel better creating your own family. There may be all sorts of blocks to you marrying, but if you don’t mind me asking, without any offense intended, is the only reason you’re not getting personal coaching from Evan a financial one, and if so, would you accept such as a Christmas present? It’s not such a generous offer as it seems; I have a regular job where I earn a decent income, but then I also have a side hustle and it’s really busy (and getting busier) and very lucrative.

        16. Emily, to

          Jeremy,
          I hope you’re having lots of sex on your vacation without the kids. 🙂 (Couldn’t help myself.)
          “My wife has an extremely close relationship with her mother. Who do you think is watching my kids right now as we vacation? How many of our friends express jealously for our pot of gold that is involved and trustworthy grandparents? Pure gold.”
          I never wanted kids so a man being super close with his parents isn’t a selling point. 🙂 I mean, having a good relationship with extended family is a nice thing. But one phone call a week is more than enough. 🙂

        17. Emily, to

          Mrs. Happy,
          “I’d love to hear you’re getting married, I do think you’d feel better creating your own family.”
          Can I ask this: Why is this my only option? I know that it is, but I don’t understand why. Why is our thinking as a society so narrow? I feel like I’m living in a Jane Austen novel. Also, I’ll never marry. Pair up, maybe, but he would need his own place and a friend or two.
          “and if so, would you accept such as a Christmas present?”
          You’re very sweet. You really are. But no.

        18. S.

          @E to the OG

          Everyone here probably knows I will be the first to say, no you don’t have to have babies and a husband. But why give up family itself? Family doesn’t exclusively mean a husband and babies. Yes, society is narrow. But it’s changing. And it’s not easy for anyone to be at the forefront of change. But you gotta be you, right? That’s why you’re the OG. The original.

          Our choices are widening but it’s not easy. We don’t prioritize friendship as a society. The bonds of blood are strong. But my mom was adopted. She never married. I was raised by her and a slew of women I’m not blood related to. Still being raised by some of them or other older women I’ve met. Those bonds were real. We can tie ourselves to one another. Heck, I’m even starting to mother/guide people.

          My mom and I are very close. Not ten times a day close, but I adore her and she adores me. We call each other on our stuff sometimes but that love is complete. But I’m likely to outlive her. So it’s not permanent. She won’t live forever. Even a partner might die. My practice right now is to allow for change. And to let others in. No, it’s not the same as a husband, but it’s not the same as no one in my life, either. Besides, I’m really trying to enjoy life with folks before he comes so when we meet I have a life. A full rich, life centered in a community that supports me. So as Esther Perel pointed out, so I’m not trying to get every single emotional need I have met by him.

          I think forever is a long time. Besides there are some people you don’t really want around forever.

          You don’t want to marry? Cool. You don’t believe friends will care as much as a husband or blood relatives? Might be true. You don’t want Evan’s or Mrs. H’s help. No problemo.

          What *do* you want? We are only internet people but we care enough to keep writing messages to you. The world does change. It’s slow, it’s incremental but it’s change. In the meantime, do you just go it alone? I ask because it makes me a bit sad for you. I know you’re a tough cookie and can handle yourself, but most people would like a trusted place to land at least some times. I am radical enough to think people can create that outside of blood or marriage.

          Hey! Maybe I’m an OG too! Hmm. . . nah. 😉

        19. S.

          @Mrs. Happy

          Your sweet offer to ETO made my 2019 holiday season. It matters that you offered and it really touched me.

          See that, Letter Writer? You are so fixated on this crush you are missing wonderful things going on around you like this!

          I really hope Michael reads these comments someday.

        20. sylvana

          Mrs. Happy,

          I generally agree, but this guy is dating on a regular basis. It’s not like he’s not dating because of the crush. And he admits that – although the women are attractive – he is simply not attracted to them.

        21. jo

          Some of you are truly sweet, but why is all this pity and sadness being directed at Emily? It didn’t seem that she asked for it or implied that she needed or warranted it. She lives in the USA: all over North America at least (and Europe too), people now live in many different ways and arrangements, and the nuclear family is becoming ever less common.

          Don’t get me wrong, there’s much to praise about the nuclear family. But there is also more freedom than ever for every person to choose exactly the lifestyle she wants. The lifestyle Em described of a partner who lives in his own place would be marvelous to many women. If she wants and achieves that, fewer will frown upon her today than ever before.

          Maybe that gets to the whole ‘Guardian’ idea: I didn’t know what you meant, Jeremy, until I looked it up and found that it described a group of Myers-Briggs types with S and J (sensing and judging). If they are, as you describe, the ones who care about maintaining the social fabric, then they are the ones who lose power all the time as we move to more flexible lifestyles.

        22. Jeremy

          Not power Jo, but purpose. Because while it certainly seems to other types that this type is constantly trying to judge and shame others into compliance (and hence exercise power over them), such could not be farther from the truth. It is simply a failure to extrapolate that not everyone else shares their motivational machinery. Think of it like this – if we all valued relationships and social fabric and security as our prime motivators, would it not simply be logical to follow their advice and live as they do? In the same way that if we all found prime meaning in being our own authentic selves, we’d find it logical to live as the idealists on this site advise. Or if we all valued intensity of experience as much as someone like Sylvana or Emily, and especially if we ALSO valued our own authenticity and independence on top of that, we’d find offers helping us do otherwise as kind…. but better with the gift receipt intact.

        23. Emily, to

          Jo and company,
          “Some of you are truly sweet, but why is all this pity and sadness being directed at Emily”?
          While I genuinely appreciate the support and kindness (and thank you again, Mrs. H, for your offer), I’m hardly ready to jump off a bridge. I’m an idealist, and as Jeremy point out, there’s usually a huge chasm between what the idealist wants and what is. What I was hoping to find? Well, my “Sex in the City” women, all of us meeting up, drinking cool drinks, supporting each other, really knowing each other. The reality? Well, I just got 2 invitations to New Year’s Eve, which is great and I’m happy to be included. But the reality is a group of friendly acquaintances who get together to go out. I don’t even know some of their last names.

        24. Mrs Happy

          Jo,
          I don’t get the impression anyone here feels pity for another.

          For many years I swore never to marry. I thought the relationships and friendships I had during my late teens and all my 20’s were really important, and those people would be around forever. It was somewhat reasonable to assume this at that stage, as my usual experience was, that very serious boyfriends became good friends after we broke up, probably because there was absolutely nothing wrong with the relationship except one person wanted to marry and one didn’t, so there was no rancour or anything nasty afterwards, and friendship was possible and easy.

          I read a pivotal book around my late 20’s. The plot is hazy this far away, but in it a single woman aged ‘old’ (which probably meant she was in her 40’s) gets a diagnosis and about 12 months to live, and decides to, month by month, visit the loves of her life, staying with each of these men for a month, reconnecting in a platonic way, and saying goodbye. Bear in mind at this point I was still determined to avoid marriage and kids and was intending to remain single all my life, supported by close friends, much as this woman saw her life.
          The story unfolds illustrating the disastrous ways this doesn’t work out. Most men for the most part are okay with her staying in a granny flat out the back or spare bedroom or wing or whatever, they have genuinely liked her. But she doesn’t account for the fact their lives have moved on, and away from her. Their female partners are so unhappy and distressed with the reality or plan for her to be there, and they make life so unbearable for each man, that she often has to cut the month visit short, or not go. She ends up with very few or none of these oh-so-important people of her past, actually there for her at the end.

          I think that’s what Emily and I have been trying to communicate. It is really upsetting for someone (us) to come to the realisation that the relationships they prioritise, e.g. close friendships, aren’t prioritised by others. To come to the realisation that to avoid being alone, you might have to shift your ideals, and try to fit in more with what society dictates.

        25. Emily, to

          Mrs. H,
          “I think that’s what Emily and I have been trying to communicate. It is really upsetting for someone (us) to come to the realisation that the relationships they prioritise, e.g. close friendships, aren’t prioritised by others. To come to the realisation that to avoid being alone, you might have to shift your ideals, and try to fit in more with what society dictates.”
          That is exactly what I’m trying to say. And it’s not just to avoid being alone. It’s if you want to be valued and prioritized. You’ll be backed into a more traditional life.

        26. Mrs Happy

          Jeremy,
          I truly can’t believe I’m arguing this, and it’s only temporary I assure you, but your position,
          “Not power Jo, but purpose. Because while it certainly seems to other types that this type is constantly trying to judge and shame others into compliance (and hence exercise power over them), such could not be farther from the truth.”
          is so wrong.

          It is about power. You have got to be kidding me that you can’t see this. I’m actually wondering whether this is a haze just to get me to write about power.

          Gosh, have you never read The Scarlett Letter? Or any Victorian era novel, or religious tract, or Christian sermon, or property law book? Or the sexually transmitted disease statistics for teenagers in American schools that don’t educate on safe sex practises or provide condoms? Or news about the entire African subcontinent with HIV rates of 50% after the Catholic and other churches denied access to condoms? About the draconian termination laws in some countries? About Islamic “purity” raids?

          All through the ages Guardian types have thrived on forcing onto other members of society, their view of “what should be”. They are nowhere near as innocent and powerless as you infer. They judge, harm, ostracize and restrict others, believe people should follow rules, usually think they have the moral high ground, and use conservative mores to shore up power. Yes it fits with their personality ‘purpose’, but you have blinkers on my lad if you can’t see their manipulation. Think.

        27. Jeremy

          I know they make you angry, that the aspect of them that you see in yourself makes you angry, I know why. But this is not a topic that has lacked my thought and consideration. One must take care not to judge a group by its most extreme members.

          After all, what group has done more damage in the 20th century than the idealists? Ideology has allowed people to kill each other without any remorse – communism, fascism, Nazism, islamism, imperialism – you name it. Does that mean that idealists are out to shore up their own power? Or does it mean that care must be taken to avoid extremism in all things? When you think of guardians, you think of the ones that harmed you, as I do when I think of idealists. I must take care not to judge the intentions of all by those I’ve met. The majority of all kindergarten teachers are guardians. Speak with some of them sometime. You’ll find that they want nothing more than to do what’s best and fair. No one more giving and selfless on a regular basis.

        28. S.

          @Mrs. H

          I agree, it wasn’t pity at all. I was just trying to understand.

          “To come to the realisation that to avoid being alone, you might have to shift your ideals, and try to fit in more with what society dictates.”

          Ugh. On one hand this sucks. On the other hand, things can be better for doing this. I have been feeling really distant lately. I was questioning whether my friends are even friends. The old ones (not in age but in terms of how long I’ve known them) I feel different from, the new ones are too new.

          I just got this feeling that if I didn’t reach out, they wouldn’t. And while I knew that didn’t mean they didn’t care, I was at a low ebb and didn’t want to. I wanted to ‘mirror’. LOL. I realize now that only works with men and dating and even then in the early stages. Once you know someone years or months, nope.

          What I realized, though. Is that people often have no idea how I feel at all. They aren’t thinking about what they don’t know. And that I would have to actually clue them in. I was so exhausted by all my recent travel I couldn’t reach out. I just wanted to crawl into bed at night and sleep. So I did. That is a blessed, blessed thing about being single. When the introvert in me needs to shut down and rest, I can. No one pulling at my skirts. (Or pants, though can revive for that. ;-)) I can sleep nine hours a night if I want.

          After that self-care, and after talking with some wise folks, I realized that I had to give people a chance. So I did reach out in my way and not as subtly as I had. And I kept going out. I just had a fun night out tonight, actually. 🙂 It didn’t always work out well. I felt more tired sometimes, but sometimes I felt good just being in the room with people even if I was too exhausted to interact. Then I dunno. I did have a nice talk with my mom and other people I didn’t even think of reaching out to hang out. The hangouts haven’t happened but a few people really are trying. They don’t know me well so it’s may seem risky to them too.

          Some of my closer friends I did have to reach out first. I don’t know why that sticks in my craw but it does. I wanted that primacy, you know? But I am going to hang out with one of them in a few weeks. I had to choose. I could be a rebel, ‘Screw them!’ Or I could I needed to be a squeakier wheel and admit I need people sometimes.

          One of my favorite moments was with a friend’s partner. I don’t know him well and he’s not a talker. But he made an awesome dish at a potluck last year and I mentioned offhandedly a few months ago that he should make more of the same dish this year. And others apparently said the same thing. And he made a ton! And I told him that was really a highlight for me. Being heard. No, I’m not crushing on him. I’m super-duper platonic right now. But it means a lot to be really heard by anyone. And that my efforts at friendship might be working. And he really appreciated my comment. I honestly didn’t think he’d care.

          Friendship is hard, y’all. Like tonight I went out to a work thing and had a blast with my co-workers. They aren’t even friends! But it lifted me up so much at the time. I had a phone call that brought me down off that high but I look at the pictures and I now it was awesome.

          Can I call any of these folks in an emergency? No. But it’s still good having them in my life. And yeah, I had to give in a bit and reach out first even though every thing in me said NO.

          Evan helped too. In the other letter he said that after a certain point, you have to stop clinging to being ‘chosen’. People are trying to be my friend, reaching out and choosing me all the time. And I’m dismissing it because it’s not coming from exactly who I want and in exactly the way I want it. And by dismissing that, I’m doing the same thing the friends are. Devaluing these friends and their efforts.

          Sooo . . . I don’t like tradition. And I don’t like being alone all the time. I’m different in so many ways that sometimes, yeah, I have to give in a bit to not be alone. But I have so much fun with the people that I’m letting go of the resentment of having reached out first. And just enjoy being with people. That’s actually what matters.

          I don’t think my experiences with friends are that different from what people have stated. But my framing of it is changing. The framing matters because it helps me be able to enjoy what is. I still want a life partner but I can deeply enjoy this too. Hope it makes sense what I’m saying. I’m not dismissing the real pain of realizing friendships won’t last forever. I found and am finding a way through that that I hope won’t leave me bitter.

          Btw, Mrs. H, that book sounds dreadful! I wonder more how you changed from not getting married at all to becoming, well, Mrs. Happy. Did the book change your mind?

        29. Mrs Happy

          Dear S,
          “I wonder more how you changed from not getting married at all to becoming, well, Mrs. Happy. Did the book change your mind?”

          I think I just realised I was likely to be quite left out if I didn’t marry, so I decided to concentrate my efforts on getting married. It was a practical decision. I’ve always loved men so it wasn’t a hardship. I got marriage wrong the first time because I wasn’t very good, in fact was far far below average, in the role of wife. I’m 10 years into the 2nd time. Still not a great wife, but it’s not a role I relish or put much effort into, and I dislike religions and the patriarchy and the Guardian types who dictate what being ‘a good wife’ constitutes, since it almost always involves sacrifice and I’m sick of sacrificing.

          Also, I suddenly during my 30’s wanted kids, out of nowhere, complete 180, and I wouldn’t have had them outside marriage. (As I type this my overtired (it’s Friday afternoon, long hot week here) 6 and 9 year olds are screaming at each other and whining and annoying me to no end, but at heart I wanted them. Deep, deep down. At the moment I’d be reaching into the very murky depths of want memory.)

          Dear Jeremy,
          I’d love you to explain, within the confines of this space and its lack of privacy given the limitations imposed upon you, what you meant by,
          “I know they make you angry, that the aspect of them that you see in yourself makes you angry, I know why.”
          Thank you in advance.
          BTW I’m feeling very sorry for your 3 little girls – do they get upset that Santa isn’t visiting them as he is other children?

        30. Jeremy

          I’ll divide my reply to you into 2, Mrs H, since one would be too long. First, regarding your feeling sorry for my kids’ lack of Santa – a story: A few years ago I happened to be shopping for groceries the Friday before Thanksgiving, and one of the things I bought was a turkey. As the cashier swiped the groceries through, she told me that she was buying a turkey for Thanksgiving too, and was really looking forward to her big family dinner, the manner of which she only has on Thanksgiving and Christmas. And I felt a wave of pity wash over me. Because I wasn’t buying the turkey for Thanksgiving – in fact, I’d forgotten that it was Thanksgiving at all with all the Jewish holidays that fall around that time in early October. No, I was buying a turkey because it was FRIDAY. Because the large family dinners with lavish food and extended family and guests, of phones and screens turned off and bonding and catching up and laughing and story-telling…..happens every Friday night and Saturday in my house.

          I thought of this story when you mentioned your sympathy for my children’s lack of Santa and his gifts, Mrs H. Perspective. My children will have 8 nights of Chanukah with lots of gifts and family time, lots of rich foods and fun games….and that is the most minor, least significant, of all the holidays they will celebrate as the year turns round and round. My wife is out shopping right now for brisket and pie and challah and wine, for veggies and legumes that she will turn into elaborate and beautiful creations. Because it’s Friday.

        31. Jeremy

          As for your request, do I need to explain it? You just wrote how sick you are of sacrificing. You’ve written so many times of how you used to cater to the emotions of others, especially men and the hissy fits we throw, unable to manage our emotions as we are. And that you are over it. Over it. Implies that at one point, to some extent, you were under it. Why?

          Our personalities don’t arise out of the ether, they are highly heritable. And while you know I like to talk about personality archetypes, I’m the first to admit that they don’t exist in any pure sense. Because we’re all combinations. At first glance I act like the Rational archetype and my wife like the Guardian. But look a little deeper – she and I both have at least one parent at the far end of the Idealist spectrum, we’ve both inherited that as a part of our psychological make-up to some extent, and we both HATE it, hate seeing in ourselves that part of our parents that we most hate, has most harmed us. One of the things that she and I most have in common, despite our differences in motivational machinery and judgment-making mechanisms, is our disdain for dysfunctional idealism. Because there’s nothing that we hate more than that which we recognize in ourselves and wish wasn’t there.

          I didn’t grow up with dysfunctional Guardians. Trying to impose their rules on me, their ways of being that made no sense. Their motivations that weren’t my own. Their rules that would harm me, limit me, subordinate me….or worse. And I never inherited any Guardian-like aspects that would ever cause me to instinctively prioritize others, subordinate myself, seek security through adopting external values and then come to despise those values when I realized they offer no security….and so seek security in ways that might actually work, through rationality. That was not my inheritance – mine was a fun-house mirror image of that. But I know people whose it was. They talk a lot like you do.

        32. Mrs Happy

          JJ,
          Re Santa situation:
          I know about Fridays and all your religious celebrations (seriously I didn’t crawl from under a rock last week) but my concern is, Santa is everywhere, and little kids are given the message, if they’re good Santa will bring them gifts on the 25th. Now I don’t know your set up, you may be restricting your children to a Jewish-only school and only Jewish friends and family who never discuss Xmas, but at some point they’ll find out about Santa, I mean they see Xmas lights on houses and Santa at the mall and Netflix movies and books about Santa.

          I just feel sorry for the little ones if they are sad in any way for missing out on Santa. I mean, he is so magical. I’m atheist and I get right into the celebrations; I feel sad if Santa doesn’t come to all little kids who know about him. But I’m a marshmallow about little ones.

          I didn’t know Canada celebrated Thanksgiving. Interesting.

        33. Evan Marc Katz

          Mrs. Happy and Jeremy – I love that you’re friends and I’m pleased to share your emails with each other but please keep comments related to the original post – or at least dating/relationships, thanks.

          And Mrs. Happy, I am a Jewish atheist with a Catholic wife, raising our kids Jewish, and they seemed to come up with their own story that Santa is real but he doesn’t visit Jewish houses (they know Daddy buys all the gifts). I think that’s perfect for ages 7-8 and I don’t do anything to contradict their beliefs.

        34. Mrs Happy

          Sorry Evan my bad.

        35. Jeremy

          They know all about it, not sad, lots of other opportunities for magical anticipation. Sorry Evan (chastened). Will try to stay focused.

        36. Jeremy

          Remaining focused on the topic of relationships, I would like to address something that Mrs Happy wrote to Emily. The notion that both felt, to some degree, that they’d have to go against their ideals to avoid loneliness because others didn’t value casual relationships the way they did. Question: is it that others didn’t value the relationships, or is it that what others wanted from the relationships was different from what you did? That the changes in what they’d want over time had less to do with society than with human motivations, and hence were very predictable?

          Is it that the old boyfriends who wanted marriage when you didn’t were great friends until they weren’t, or was it that they were never your friends? That while you were happy to give and receive what you wanted, what they wanted was quite different, and what you were offering didn’t meet their wants… and so they moved on? Was it that the sex-in-the-city girlfriends split apart because they were shitty friends, or because their lives and wants evolved in very predictable ways and had bandwidth too limited to accommodate their casual relationships alongside their more primary ones?

          When I was in grade 6, all the boys collected transformers and GI Joe toys to play with. My collection was always meagre compared to most of them, but in the summer between grade six and seven I managed to procure a few and thought to impress my classmates on the first day of school. But when I got there, no one seemed to care about toys anymore. All the boys wanted to talk about was sports and dirty jokes and current events. I mentioned the toys they had all loved and collected just months before and they looked at me pityingly, as if I was a child among adults, the stupid bird flying behind the flock. Who could have known that the flock would act as it did, that boys would grow out of their toys? Everyone, I discovered.

        37. Emily, to

          Jeremy,
          “Question: is it that others didn’t value the relationships, or is it that what others wanted from the relationships was different from what you did? That the changes in what they’d want over time had less to do with society than with human motivations, and hence were very predictable? … Was it that the sex-in-the-city girlfriends split apart because they were shitty friends, or because their lives and wants evolved in very predictable ways and had bandwidth too limited to accommodate their casual relationships alongside their more primary ones?”
          But why is friendship a casual relationship? Why is not a best friend an important, primary relationship for some people? As important as, say, family of origin? I can’t be the only person who feels this way. Other people who never wanted kids and feel ambivalent about marriage have to be out there. And the sex-in-the-city women REMAINED friends through marriages, divorces, kids, etc. Through everything, the friendships were the constant. That was the point of the show. It was always about their friendships, and it was an extremely popular show. The same with the show Friends. They remained tight over 10 years, over all kinds of life’s up and downs. So these programs reflect … can I say it, my dear Mr. Jeremy? … an ideal that maybe no one is living but people want to believe is out there … ?

        38. Jeremy

          That’s exactly what they are, Emily. An idealist fallacy. There’s the world that we think should be, and the world that is. It pays not to confuse the two. That was the mistake of my youth, the point of the story I told. I couldn’t tell the difference, and suffered for it. Everyone else just knew – if not consciously then just through what they all did. The fact that the characters on Friends were and remained friends was as much a fantasy as the apartments in NYC that they somehow afforded while sipping coffee all day. Because humans are both lazy and tribal by nature – not prone to expend effort for long-term gain if it costs short-term effort, and prone to prioritize limited emotional resources on their tribal relationships – relationships of blood and marriage – unless strong idealistic motivation persuades them otherwise. We can ignore this idealistically or we can use it pragmatically.

        39. Emily, to

          Jeremy,
          “Because humans are both lazy and tribal by nature – not prone to expend effort for long-term gain if it costs short-term effort, and prone to prioritize limited emotional resources on their tribal relationships – relationships of blood and marriage – unless strong idealistic motivation persuades them otherwise.”
          I agree with you. I don’t want to, but I do. I still find it hard to believe that EVERYONE follows the same path and prioritizes the same things, but I see no evidence to the contrary. I can’t beat the system. I acquiesce. I’ve given up expecting friendship to be any more than people to do things with, like go to the movies. I also know that I’m sliding into the very kind of life I spent so much time avoiding and that Mr. Healthy Leafy Greens is in my future.

        40. Jeremy

          I probably played with toys longer than most of the kids in my class, Emily. And hell, if I had a transformer right now I’d probably play with it ’cause, let’s face it, they were kind of awesome. But fact is, I don’t have one right now, and haven’t had one for decades. And somewhere along the way I developed a taste for non fiction (though still like fiction and fantasy), and a passion for other things that I probably wouldn’t have liked as a child, but like now. Didn’t cost me my soul, regardless of what I may have thought then… because I’m not the same person I was then. Am capable of changing my mind because I am not the sum of my thoughts but rather the thinker of them. Guess I must be human too. Who’d have thunk?

        41. Emily, to

          Jeremy,
          I thought I should tell you that I’m as I write this watching the 1975 miniseries version of “Madame Bovary.” I know the book is one of your favorites. 🙂 Kind of goes back to the themes of ideals versus reality.

        42. Jeremy

          I enjoy any work of fiction where names rhyme with female anatomy. Bovary, Mulva, whatever. Sorry, your talk of Friends led to a natural progression…

          Of that genre I preferred Anna Karenina over Madame Bovary. The book, not any of the movies. I guess no one does tortured idealist-turned-rational quite like Tolstoy. The movies all skipped over what the directors must have thought were the less-important aspects of the book, but were actually Tolstoy talking to his readers. Anna’s story was only demonstrative.

        43. Emily, to

          Jeremy,
          “Anna’s story was only demonstrative.”
          Demonstrative that you’ll be punished if you don’t follow the rules of society. Everyone else accepts living in … what was the lyric in that Pink Floyd song? … quiet desperation. How dare you want more.

        44. Jeremy

          It’s not about the wanting, it’s about how (or whether) to expect the getting. It’s like Kermit told Fozzie in the original muppet movie – “You don’t go to Bombay India to become a movie star, you go to Hollywood.” Of course, Kermit was ironically wrong, as history would later hilariously demonstrate. But point is, if you have a goal you’ve got to have a way to achieve it that works in real life. That, or adjust your goal to something attainable. LOL, in my bad old days, I could have sat around HOPING things would change, believing that they should change if only the world was a better place….but chances are nothing would have ever changed. What value is there in an ideal that holds you prisoner. Whose ideals were those, again, and where exactly did they come from? Do we ever wonder about this? Or do we simply internalize out of habit and inertia?

        45. Emily, to

          Big Jer,
          “But point is, if you have a goal you’ve got to have a way to achieve it that works in real life. That, or adjust your goal to something attainable.”
          Most people pick the latter, don’t they? It’s just easier.
          Well, Mr. Jeremy, I’m thinking about another move to be, of all things, closer to the 3 relatives I have left. And they’ve been supportive. I feel lucky to have them, but the move also makes me a bit sad. Because they don’t really know me. I have to hide entire parts of my personality from them so as to avoid getting lectured. They’re sensible types. I cannot share my inner life with them or the part of my life that really means something. At least to me.

        46. Jeremy

          My whole life I’ve ego-invested in my self-reliance. My ability to not need anyone else. And so when I see my wife trying to raise our children with secure attachment mechanisms, constantly validating them and providing them with emotional support far in excess of anything they’ll ever encounter in the outside world, I sometimes fear that such will interfere with their self-sufficiency. That they’ll always need an emotional crutch to rely upon. But my understanding is that it is actually those with secure attachment that are better-able to take risks, reach out to others, act with confidence, not because they always need an emotional crutch, but because they know that one is there if they ever do need it. Whereas those of us who, deep down, feel we don’t have such a support system available often rely on all sorts of unhealthy compensatory behavior. I have to tell myself over and over….what we’re doing isn’t making them weaker, it’s making them stronger. That which I believe is my strength is, in a way, my greatest weakness. The ideal that tells me it’s a strength…where did it come from again? Do I want to BE like the people I learned it from?

          This to say, your family members may not fully understand you, you might feel unable to share the fullness of yourself with them…..but perhaps if you had them as an unwaivering support system, you might be more able to reach out and take risks and find others – friends, men, whatever – around whom you might open more. Because you might feel better-able to let down your guard, knowing that a support-system is there for you if you need it. That’s the theory, at least. Theory is always a good place to start.

        47. Emily, to

          Jeremy,
          “…but perhaps if you had them as an unwavering support system, you might be more able to reach out and take risks and find others – friends, men, whatever – around whom you might open more. Because you might feel better-able to let down your guard, knowing that a support-system is there for you if you need it.”
          It’s also a bit more practical. If you have the unwavering support system–people in you inner circle, so to speak–when the people in the outer circle fall away or disappoint you, well, you don’t care as much. It doesn’t make as big of a dent because you don’t need them. It sounds cold but it’s true. Of course, you have to ask yourself what happens when the “unwavering support system” wavers … maybe some of the people are elderly and pass away or someone gets married and falls off the planet. It happens.

      2. 6.1.2
        BBQ

        Emily, to

        Ugh chivalry, how can those guys do that stuff with a straight face? I pity them.
        Thank god I live in Australia where I don’t have to do that kind of thing but I’m also not expected to talk about my emotions (whatever that means).

        1. Emily to

          BBQ,
          “Ugh chivalry, how can those guys do that stuff with a straight face? I pity them.”
          You shouldn’t. They’re probably getting all the women.

  7. 7
    NB

    As an expert crusher, I want to chime in.

    You may think you are doomed because you lost your destiny due to circumstances/ your inaction etc.
    Think of it this way, the fact that you are not together now is exactly how destiny shows itself.
    Rejection / the fact that you were not ready enough to tell her how you feel / circumstantial impediments was *exactly* why you two were not meant to be. Her marriage to another guy is DEFINITELY how you know she’s not your person.

    We feel it’s easier to accept what happened when it’s a decision after much deliberation. But it is harder for us to come to terms with it if the decision is thrown at us without our having any chance to have any agency in making the decision (e.g. Crush got married before even having a chance to tell her). But BOTH are the ways how you find your destiny. Not just in finding the significant other, but in everything else in life. Most of our lives consist of our dealing with what’s thrown at us and learning to be grateful for what we would have never have chosen if we’d had the choice.

    On a more practical note, try to find someone who makes you “hesitate to write off” immediately. If you try to find someone who “captivates” you, you will set yourself for failure because nobody measures up. BUT you may find that, although EVERYBODY is underwhelming compared to your crush, there are a limited number of women that makes you feel a bit different.
    It was the case for me. I admit a majority of the guys I met after my crush gave me anxiety and made me miss my crush like crazy who was my dream guy personified. But a very few of them, although not as dreamy as my crush, didn’t give me the anxiety. Do they come along every day? Not at all. They are also the rare kind. But they do exist and my relationship with them was, I begrudgingly admitted, WAY better than my relationship with my crush.
    I am sure this applies to you, too. While your crush may have qualities that are objectively superior, your relationship with your crush was either non-existent, had no romantic vibes, or an uphill battle that is TOO difficult, which is why you are not together. That’s NOT how it’s supposed to be. See Evan’s advice to “evaluate the relationship not the person”.

  8. 8
    Emily, to

    NB,
    On a more practical note, try to find someone who makes you “hesitate to write off” immediately. If you try to find someone who “captivates” you, you will set yourself for failure because nobody measures up. …It was the case for me. I admit a majority of the guys I met after my crush gave me anxiety and made me miss my crush like crazy who was my dream guy personified. But a very few of them, although not as dreamy as my crush, didn’t give me the anxiety. Do they come along every day? Not at all. They are also the rare kind. But they do exist and my relationship with them was, I begrudgingly admitted, WAY better than my relationship with my crush.”
    This is good advice. Did you seriously date any of these guys? Finding some other guys reasonably appealing (but them not asking for a date) or only going on first dates every now and then might not help as much as getting involved with someone else. Thus you’d learn (“you” meaning anyone with a crush) that there were other people out there who you could find appealing people who also wanted you.

  9. 9
    Stephanie

    This guy doesn’t have a crush. He has an obsession and it needs to be treated as such. The solution has nothing to do with other women–or even the one he is obsessing over. Obsessive thoughts or rituals are self-perpetuating because they are always there to protect you from anxiety, fear, loneliness, etc. He needs to identify what is triggering these repetitive thought patterns and work on replacing them with healthier ones.

    I agree with others that talk therapy is not the best option. (Is it ever?) However, there are other, more effective treatments and there are clinicians who specialize in treating obsessive disorders.

  10. 10
    Kitty

    So Evan –

    Your wife is not Jewish so your kids are not Jewish but you’re a Jewish atheist raising your kids as Jewish.

    Huh? I hope your kids are not as confused as you are!

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