I have given my fair share of mixed signals to men over the years, for various reasons. I hope to help others learn from my mistakes.
I Have a Crush on a Married Man
He is devastatingly attractive, he is totally wonderful, you can't get him out of your mind—and he's already taken. What should you do?
How to Get Over Your Crush
Like many women, I have been in this situation more than once in my life. Whether you yourself are single, taken, or married, this can definitely happen to you. Luckily,
I've discovered that there are a few things you can do to help deal with your crush, such as:
- Focus your attention on someone who is emotionally and physically available.
- Remind yourself and him about his wife
- Look for things you dislike about him
- Avoid getting too personal with him
- Love yourself
What Is a Crush?
A crush is an uncontrollable desire to be with someone you find either physically or emotionally attractive. It would be a sad life indeed if you never encountered someone you consider to be very attractive and extremely special—almost everyone has had a crush!
While it is a common first stage for a romantic relationship, crushes don't often lead to one. Crushes are especially known for being short-lived, and they are often pointed towards people who are unattainable, such as celebrities. This is especially common amongst young people who are just learning about romantic relationships. Though those feelings are very real and very strong, their crush will eventually fade and come to pass when those feelings are not reciprocated.
What to Do About Your Crush
It seems that the majority of people will advise you to walk away and cut contact with this man. If you're capable of shutting your emotions off like that, it's not such a bad idea. However, unless you are a robot, it's not always that easy. Often you will be in a situation where you can't walk away, like at work, and you will still see the man every day.
Personally, I believe that sudden avoidance can be a big mistake. I feel that cutting feelings off suddenly can create an obsession. You will start to feel like a martyr, which will only cause you to feel more strongly towards him. And, if he has developed feelings for you in return, it will trigger his urge to pursue you.
Instead, I feel that you need to let your crush evolve and dwindle in its own good time. Remember, it is not love—love is so much more. Love is about sacrifice, time, and building a true connection with someone. What you have is a crush—it may be a strong one, but simply admitting this is a huge step forward. Crushes come to pass. Be friendly towards him, stay in control, keep your head on your shoulders, be honest with yourself, and give yourself time to sort things out.
Here are some things you can do to help ease your feelings while you wait for this feeling to pass:
1. Focus Your Attention on Something (or Someone) Else
You're spending a lot of time and energy thinking about someone who you can't be with, so why don't you try using that energy on another passion? This could mean delving into a new hobby, starting a new exercise routine, making new friends, or even going out with the intention of meeting someone else.
The euphoria you get from having a crush probably has you looking at your most attractive—the people around you will notice you glowing from within. Take a look around: Who else is around who IS available? If you are already in a relationship yourself, can you spice things up with who you have? Crushes are all about thinking of an ideal world—you need to bring yourself back to reality and start thinking about how you can make your existing world more ideal.
2. Remind Yourself of His Wife
It's important that you remember that his wife is a real person with emotions and feelings like anyone else. When you talk to him, mention his wife. Ask about how she's doing and try to care about her wellbeing. It will remind both you and him that she exists, and will indicate to him that you are being respectful of her and their relationship.
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Even if you've never met her before, just talking about her will remind you that this man is unavailable and will keep you from considering the possibility of being with him.
3. Looks for His Flaws
You might spend a lot of time looking at your crush or at least thinking about him and reminiscing about past conversations you've had. The next time you're in his presence, look for things about him that you dislike and focus your attention on them.
For example, if you love cats and he says cruel things about cats, focus on that! If he has ugly hands, remind yourself that you don't find them attractive! And, perhaps most importantly, if he does or says something ignorant, sexist, or otherwise prejudiced, keep it in the back of your mind. You wouldn't want to be with someone who is not respectful, thoughtful, or tolerant.
4. Keep Your Distance
Though it can be difficult, make sure you keep your distance from him when in his presence—both physically and emotionally. Try to stand a comfortable distance away from him while still being respectful.
What If I Have a Crush on My Boss or Coworker?
You see your coworker every day, for eight hours a day. When you spend that much time together, and he is a charming, attractive man, it's very possible that you can develop a crush on him. This makes avoiding him difficult, especially if you have to talk every day of the week. However, you can still make sure to keep your distance. Try to keep your conversations short and courteous, and try not to reveal too much of your personal life to him.
Even when you're not with him, avoid the temptation to answer personal emails, texts, and phone calls from him. If you must answer for work or an otherwise important matter, keep your response brief and impersonal. It may be difficult, but it's important that you discourage any sort of intimate or private behavior.
5. Love Yourself
Sometimes we look to men to validate us because we don't have enough self-confidence. However, it doesn't have to be that way. Remind yourself that you're worthy of love from someone who is able to devote themselves to you. Do something wonderful for yourself—take a holiday, give yourself a makeover, learn something new, try a new experience. You are a fabulous woman. Go out and live your best life!
Don't Create Problems for Yourself or Others
Problems only arise when you start to act upon your fantasies with someone who is already committed to someone else. Let's be honest here, you've probably read this far because you have a crush on someone who's taken and are looking for justification, redemption, or encouragement. You are probably considering what it would be like to have a serious relationship with him. Am I right? I'm not judging you—I'm understanding you. I've been there.
Perhaps he is signaling back that he is interested too. Maybe he is indicating that something more could happen between you. Perhaps he is attempting to instigate an affair with you...and maybe you're considering it, despite the consequences. Unfortunately, if you are receiving positive signals, odds are that this man is simply feeding his own ego with your attention. If you take it any further, it will almost always end badly.
How Can You Trust Him If His Wife Can't?
Even if you see it as just a simple, harmless affair, some women end up wanting a proper relationship in the long run. However, it's not actually harmless—somewhere along the way, someone is going to get hurt.
When I've had feelings for an unavailable man, I have always asked myself this (somewhat cliched) question: If he's willing to leave his wife for me, how could I trust that he wouldn't do the same to me in the future?
The simple answer is I couldn't.
Think About His Wife
His wife is a real person with hopes, fears, dreams, and feelings. If you've never met her, it makes it very hard to believe that she actually exists, even though you know she does. It might seem less painful if you are able to forget that he goes home to her, but it will actually help you get over your crush if you think about her and how your actions might affect her. It kind of puts things in perspective, and it personally makes me feel a little angry with the man for putting both his wife and me in this situation—and that helps too.
Sometimes, when you go looking for advice on a topic like this, you will be judged badly. You will be perceived as a threat to anyone who is in or who has had a relationship. Almost everyone will take the high moral ground without considering any individual circumstances. However, despite what others might tell you, you are not a bad person.
You can't help who you like. However, you can help how you act upon your feelings, and that's what will determine if you are a good person or not.
Crushes Are Completely Normal
Having a crush on someone, whether they're available or not, is absolutely normal. Playful flirting and games are part of basic human interaction, and feeling that you are attractive, interesting, and able to love is wonderful. It causes a physical and chemical reaction in our brains that makes us happy.
I don't believe it is possible to honestly deny a crush—when it happens, you just need to wait it out.
Why Am I Attracted to a Married Man?
Some women repeatedly fall for unavailable men because they are afraid of commitment—either because they're afraid of the hypothetical abandonment or because they hate feeling tied down. Others do so because they have low self-esteem, and receiving the affections of a man who seems "impossible" seems like the ultimate form of validation.
Whatever your case, take a minute of introspection to figure out why it is you find men more attractive when they are unattainable. Is it because, deep down, you are terrified of the idea of being with someone? Or is it because you want "proof" that you're worthy of someone? Once you know yourself well enough, you can take steps to address the underlying issues that cause you to fall into these patterns.
You Never Know What Could Happen
Committed relationships can and do end. Perhaps you are destined to have a relationship in the future with this man. However, keep in mind that if you are "the other woman", "the mistress", or "the homewrecker", the chances of having a trustful, loving relationship with him if he ever becomes available are very, very slim.
No matter what, you should conduct yourself with dignity, self-respect, decency, and integrity. If at some point this man's marriage fails for a reason other than your interference, you have built the foundations for a solid relationship with him. But by then, you could be happily involved with someone else. There is always hope!
Questions & Answers
Question: I have a horrible crush on a married man. I have tried to avoid him for months on end, and have even attended a twelve step meeting to help me move on from him. Whenever I think I’m cured, I go back to see him once again. I'm addicted to him. How do I ever get over the power he has over me?
Answer: This man is filling a void in your life, and while he is meeting that strong need, he will always have some degree of power over you.
I would suggest that, in order to move on, you try and identify exactly what you personally get from this man. Why do you want him? How does your relationship with him fulfil you? Be specific and detailed in your reply to yourself. Then consider what sort of things you could do to make yourself happy instead of sabotaging your life by going back to see him.
The flipside of this exercise is to write down everything negative you can think of about him. Be realistic. Look at the real person, not your ideal fantasy version of him. Find fault as much as possible. When you start avoiding him, record your resolve and your reasons for ending the relationship. That way, as time goes and you begin to crave him, you will be able to read over your notes. They will remind you of why you are not going to continue the harmful cycle of leaving him only to return and start all over again.
Most of all, know that your love is a precious gift and it is time to give it to someone who is worthy of you. You deserve so much better from life than someone who is unavailable to love you back. Once you stop focusing on him and open your eyes to opportunities, you might be pleasantly surprised.
Question: What if both of you are married?
Answer: Are we talking about a crush or a relationship between two married people? In the case of a crush, it's just the same as if you are single. Having a crush on someone else when you are married is quite common, especially if the marriage is lacking in communication or excitement. If your crush has become a relationship, then it is time to seriously consider how the situation will affect your husband or wife and your families. It might be worth speaking to an impartial counselor or therapist to help you work through your feelings and decide the path you want to take.
Question: Should I tell this married man how I feel?
Answer: My immediate reaction to your question is no, you shouldn't tell him. However, every situation is different. Ask yourself what will be gained by telling him? Pursuing a relationship when he is unavailable will almost always lead to heartache: not just for you but for your families. Think carefully before doing anything that will cause harm. Telling him turns a crush from being something innocent to an active and intentional pursuit of a relationship, and you may not like where that ends up.
Question: What if you have a crush on someone who eventually gets married, and your crush doesn't go away?
Answer: I know it's very hard, but I think in this situation you have to accept that this person has made a choice, and the choice sadly wasn't you. You will always have a soft spot in your heart for your crush, but it's time for you to start looking for someone who can return your love. Eventually, your crush feelings will begin to fade as you fill your life with new experiences and opportunities.
Question: I have a crush on my married teacher at college, but he told me he is not interested, what do I do?
Answer: It's really difficult when you care for someone, but you have to move on. He is obviously committed to his wife, so if you keep pursuing him, he will resent you. Often we get crushes on people who have some kind of authority over us, such as a teacher or a boss. We're attracted to the status as well as the person. Look around college for other people you admire or respect who are single so you can distract yourself from this teacher.
Question: I have avoided him for a solid year. I saw him today and my feelings are still strong. Maybe some crushes take a lifetime to get rid of? We look deep in each other’s eyes. A year ago he kissed me on the lips on two different occasions. It seems more than lust. It’s a connection; not necessarily love. I do not like how I took a year to “cool off” and it’s like not a day went by.
Answer: Sometimes we feel a strong connection with someone without ever really understanding the reason. It's a shame that this unavailable man turned the connection into something sexual by kissing you. I don't know if all crushes just go away, but normally they do diminish over time. I feel that you value this connection and fear losing it. The problem with this is that by making it sexual, he has disrespected both you and his wife. You might always feel something for him, but it would be a lot easier for you in the long run if you could replace him in your heart with someone else, even for a short time. Caring about someone else can help break the invisible ties to him and weaken the bond. I wonder if simply naming this for what it is ... a connection and not necessarily love ... is the start of your becoming stronger and more able to move on. I wish there was an easy solution, but it takes time and for you to live your life to the fullest without him.
Question: What does it mean when a married man is in my bed every day?
Answer: It means that he can't choose between you and his wife. He may not be selfish, but usually, in this situation the man is putting his own happiness above everyone else's. You don't need someone who is emotionally unavailable in your bed. You deserve someone who is devoted to you.
Question: I am in love with a married man. We used to check on each other but that no longer happens. He demanded sex but I refused and I think that's why he quit ... What to do?
Answer: I think you should count your blessings that you didn't get more involved with this man. If he stopped contacting you because you wouldn't give him the sex he demanded, then he is extremely selfish and uncaring about you or your feelings. I know that you feel longing for him, but please don't try and contact him. You deserve so much more than someone who treats you like that.
Question: I know who his wife is, and I feel terrible about my feelings and his attention towards me. Would it help at all to tell her how I feel? Not about what he has done but just to be open and honest. I feel like I cannot talk to anyone about this because I am married too. I guess I want to help her and him keep their family intact and mine too.
Answer: While your intentions are honorable, I would strongly suggest that you don't contact his wife. She will be hurt and confused, and will automatically blame you rather than seeing that her husband has encouraged your feelings. She will see it as an attempt by you to ruin her marriage, and she could retaliate by telling your husband or causing all sorts of trouble for you. Having a crush like yours can be incredibly lonely because people do not understand that you can't help who you love, and instead see you as a threat or a homewrecker. This is one of the main reasons why I wrote this article in the first place. I wanted people to realize that they are not horrible outcasts for crushing on someone unavailable, and I wanted to provide a forum for people to share their experiences and not feel alone. The best option for you, if possible, would be to remove yourself from being able to see this man and to seek help to reignite the passions of your own marriage. It will hurt, but you will know you are doing the right thing by everyone.
Question: There’s a man who works at the gym I go to; he’s thirty-three and has a girlfriend. I really like him. When he saw me today with makeup on and in my normal clothes he smiled and looking me up and down. Did I mention that I really like him? I don’t know what to do. How do I get him to like me? I’m a lot younger than him.
Answer: Having a girlfriend is a little different from being married, but I still think you need to be aware of respecting his relationship until you know where you stand. From his actions, it's obvious that he thinks you are attractive. Perhaps see if there is a way to spend some time with him. Can you ask him to help you train, for example, or shout him a coffee at the gym cafe? If he isn't interested in a relationship with you, it's likely he will mention his girlfriend to discourage you and then you'll know to back off. To give yourself the best chance, try and make sure that he enjoys being around you. Relax and be yourself. If he is into you, he'll find a way to let you know. For the sake of your own self-esteem, though, make sure he has broken up with his girlfriend before starting a proper relationship with him.
Question: Myself and this man at work have had eyes on each other for years. We have always talked. He is now married (no children) and now I am single. He wants to pursue me and now he has begun to send pictures of himself. It seems he wants to take this further, perhaps into the bedroom. I know that it is totally wrong if I do this, but my urge to be with him is so strong. What should I do?
Answer: You have said that you know it is totally wrong, so I feel that you already have the answer to your question. You shouldn't allow the relationship to go further until you are both single. Unless he leaves his wife, there will always be three in the bed, as she will always be in the back of your mind. This will be devastating for your self esteem. You seem like a strong person ... stronger than the urge to be with him. The best action to take now that he is sending pictures is to ask him outright what his intentions are. Let him know that you are interested and attracted, but that you are not prepared to start anything while he is married. You will be able to gauge a lot from his reaction, and it will give you a better idea of what kind of person he really is.
Question: My guy friend is married but we are only friends. I respect him, but he keep saying his wife treats him badly. I think I like him. What should I do?
Answer: I think you should continue to be a good friend to him. It's okay to feel attracted, but try hard not to let your feelings for him turn into anything stronger. He might be manipulating you, or he might genuinely be being mistreated by his wife, but regardless, he is unavailable at the moment. If he leaves his wife, then you will be free to pursue a relationship with him.
Question: What if you are both married but both marriages are either pretty much over or very much headed that way? In my situation, his marriage is such that he is alone all the time. They sleep in separate rooms on separate floors. In mine, we have had no real intimacy in over three years because he is becoming a she. We are friends in my opinion because I am not attracted to women.
Answer: What is keeping you both from ending your marriages right now and starting a life together? I think if you can both have an honest conversation about that, you will be able to move forward accordingly. Are you certain that his marriage is in such a bad state? I ask because sometimes people are not entirely honest when trying to maintain two relationships at once. As for your marriage, under the circumstances, you would be perfectly justified in leaving and just remaining friends. Between all four of you, communication is the key.
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