Thursday, January 15, 2009
How to Get Over a Crush
I’m a big fan of wikiHow, and this morning one of the “how-to” topics offered by this great site was “How to Stop Having an Inappropriate Crush.” Some of the advice in this posting was quite helpful, don’t get me wrong. But I have a feeling that a lot of people hoping to get help from this wikiHow will be disappointed.
The main premise of the article was “Having a crush on someone is not the problem. The real issue is your own restraint and self-control.” In my experience, most people are okay with exercising restraint when they are obsessed with the wrong person. Most times it’s painfully obvious there’s no way you can act on your feelings. You can’t hit on your married boss, you can’t ask out Robert Pattinson. You don’t need someone to tell you, like in this article, to focus on all the reasons why your crush is hopeless. Usually that’s painfully obvious.
I suspect people googling “how to get over a crush” are most interested in making the feelings go away. Unfortunately, the article only addressed the issue this way: “If you’ve tried to fight it, all to no avail, and you still find yourself sighing over him/her, then make it right.” Well, there’s usually no way to “make it right”—your boss is happily married, and Robert Pattinson is not going to go out with you.
As a person who has experienced four decades of inappropriate crushes, I can only speak from my own personal experience and share what has helped me. So here goes:
1. Don’t make yourself feel worse by beating yourself up. Having a crush is not a sin, it’s just feelings, and people can’t help their feelings. Infatuations are a natural part of being human, and no one is exempt. If you’re crushing on the next door neighbor in spite of your being happily married, don’t interpret it as a sign your marriage is failing. As the saying goes, you are married, not dead. You will still respond emotionally to attractiveness in other males, and that says nothing about the strength of your marriage.
2. Try to keep in mind that you are probably not really in love with a real person, but rather you are in love with what him/her represents to you. This is especially the case with celebrity crushes, but usually just as true with other infatuations. As you read this, you may be balking at the idea, but that’s because you don’t want to let go of the hope that this “awesome person” is really as awesome as they seem to you. But read on as to why what I’m telling you is actually good news.
3. Work on disassociating the idea of the person you adore from the flesh-and-blood individual. Think about this: have you ever really loved a character in a book? Thought about actually being with that person? Wasn’t it fun to imagine, even though you knew full well that wonderful character was just “pretend”? Well, your fantasies about your crush are like that. If you find it hard not to fantasize about the person, work on being happy just enjoying pretending about them. And remember, in real life, being with the person would doubtless not be as wonderful as your fantasies, in which you can imagine him/her as perfect for you.
4. Rejoice that the pretend version of your crush truly does belong to you. As my regular blog readers know, I’m a believer in the theories of psychoanalyst Carl Jung (and I wrote a book about this stuff called Living Beyond Reality). Jungian psychology teaches that each of us has an opposite sex aspect to our personality buried in the unconscious, called the animus/anima. The only way we interact with that “person,” that lost part of our psyche, is by projecting it on others. If the object of your infatuation seems perfect for you, that’s because you’re projecting your animus/anima upon him/her, seeing those qualities your soul most longs for, your very heart’s desire. No wonder it’s so wrong, but feels so right! Well, it takes lots of practice, but you can learn to recognize that the person you feel you adore is not actually Robert Pattinson, but this inner male ideal that is, in a real sense, your soul mate. He’s already yours, always has been, always will be. He is an autonomous part of yourself, you and yet not you.
I realize #4 is a very new concept to most people, but believe me, if you can get your mind around it, nothing works better for dealing with inappropriate crushes. If you find the idea just too far out there, then go back to #3, which is just another version of #4. The point is to diminish the pain of your crush by feeling like you have control. Rather than pining for someone you can’t have, you take the whole thing into the realm of imagination, where all the control belongs to you.
If you still don’t like the idea of letting go of “the real person,” I suggest you take a cold, hard look at the real person and try to find his/her flaws. Because I guarantee you, there are things about that guy or girl that would disappoint you if you really had to live with him or her. Apply yourself conscientiously to this exercise and you’ll figure out that your pretend version of the person is actually more fun “to be with,” even if you have to sacrifice the benefits of real flesh-and-blood.
Here’s one bonus tip for you: If you feel any interest going on in your mind towards a less problematic individual, then try to redirect your attention there. It’s the basic principle that “the universe abhors a vacuum”...it’s hard to replace a crush with nothing, but substituting a different crush can work. So, for example, if you’re pining for Robert Pattinson, see if you can’t obsess instead on the character of Edward Cullen as you personally dream him to be.
Dealing with a troublesome crush is never easy! But there are things you can do to help yourself. Good luck!
ADDENDUM 8/31/09: As you can see by the abundance of comments to this post, a lot of people have come to me with specific advice for their problems. Before you post asking for my help, I want to remind you that I'm just an author, and this post was meant to share some concepts that have been helpful to me and may be helpful to you. If you are truly tormented by an infatuation you can't shake, PLEASE SEE A PROFESSIONAL. I feel for you, but I'm severely limited in my ability to help...this is just a blog, and I'm just a fellow human wanting to present some tips that might work for you.