The question Please take this seriously as I really need some genuine advice. I’m in love with someone who makes me feel completely absorbed when I see or think about them. We are both married and we only talk face to face, never online. I have to admit he has never given me any reason to think he likes me that way. I daydream about running away and having lots of sex with him and making him tea, but I know it’s just a fantasy.

I really love my husband and it makes me happy when I hear his key in the door after a day at work. We’ve had some tough times. A while ago we both misunderstood, hurt and blamed each other, but we have come through and are better than we have ever been.

This crush came during a difficult time in my marriage, and I think it helped me cope. However, I don’t want to ruin my friendship with my crush by confessing my feelings. I just want to feel normal around him and not be so obsessed with seeing him. I know I have to stop going to places where I might bump into him, but it’s not easy.

Can you give me some mature advice? I am too old for this at 52 and feel very confused. It feels like a black hole that I get sucked into whenever I see or even think about this person.

Philippa’s answer You say, don’t take this lightly. Of course I don’t. I really feel for you, but I will give you the opposite advice and ask you to take your feelings for your love as lightly as possible.

I often give the following guidance for an uncomfortable obsession because if you follow it, it works: don’t be your feeling, instead observe the feeling. This makes the obsession less all-consuming because it means there is a part of you, the observer part, that just coolly observes and is not detected by it. By simply observing your obsession, you can separate yourself from it. So this is not a black hole that is sucking you all into it. There is a hole over there that you will not fall into. This will not be the work of a moment, but will require daily practice. Also decide to really concentrate on something else, such as noticing any sounds you can hear or bringing your awareness to your breathing. Obsession will feed the uncomfortable feeling, concentrating on other things will starve it. You can control your mind. And yes, until you have more control, don’t plan on running into him very often.

You need an explanation to understand the feeling. This will help package it in a metaphorical box, so it doesn’t continue to sabotage your life. You’ve been through some challenging times with your husband, and having this love helped you cope because it’s possible that this person represented a form of escape from the difficulties you faced in your marriage. Having this fantasy where you don’t go through all the realities of a real relationship was a way for you to escape from the bad times you had with your husband. Today, you no longer need that imagination.

Another story that can help you make sense of it all is that your love has qualities that you want for yourself. We often fall in love with people who are the opposite of us in some way and who have aspects of their character that we unconsciously feel we would like to have in ours. Good news! You can develop new sides of yourself that he can represent, you can allow his influence and you don’t have to break up two marriages to do it.

With a story that makes sense of how you feel, you can downgrade your love back to a friend. You know the grass isn’t always greener on the other side and that this crush was just a solution to a problem in your imagination.

Just because we get married doesn’t mean we stop liking other people, but love is much more than liking someone and having sex. It’s building a bond over time that deepens because you’ve worked through conflicts and differences, because you have a shared memory bank, and built up appreciation for each other for sticking through the bad times and the good. Sure, you like your crush, sure he’s a very nice person, but just because you like him and like him a lot doesn’t mean you need to have a sexual relationship with him. It’s all well and good that there are people on this earth that we feel better for having encountered, that we find attractive, better for having shared things with them and passed the time of day with them, but we can’t cope with all of them. Try to think of this person as someone you can appreciate rather than someone you have to break up two marriages for just to act on a fantasy. Take these feelings of being in love lightly.

Reason and feeling by Jane Austen is a story about two sisters who can feel deeply. One controlled her emotions and the other was controlled by her emotions. Whose way was best? Read the book and decide.

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