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Old 04-20-2012, 09:19 AM
LemonCakeIsALie33 LemonCakeIsALie33 is offline
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Default Should people "stay away from people in relationships"?

That is, if I am close with someone who is in a monogamous or monogamous-by-default relationship, someone who does not identify as poly (but may not be mono) should I distance myself romantically? Should I avoid allowing a crush to develop?

Someone I know (albeit someone I find often has the air of wisdom without actually being wise) said to me tonight, "Stay away from people in relationships." It really got under my skin. Am I bringing this pain on myself? Should I avoid being friends with people if I start feeling I might crush on them?

Recently, it seems to me that much of my romantic pain has been caused in relation to people in monogamous relationships. I've been bemoaning society and how it leads us to believe all sorts of things about relationships that aren't true, such as that mono is the only way and poly means you don't really love someone.

But the world is this way. So given that it is... should I just work with it? Should I close myself off, distance myself in some ways? Or does this just provide the illusion of protection?
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Old 04-20-2012, 11:25 AM
zylya zylya is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LemonCakeIsALie33 View Post
That is, if I am close with someone who is in a monogamous or monogamous-by-default relationship, someone who does not identify as poly (but may not be mono) should I distance myself romantically? Should I avoid allowing a crush to develop?

Someone I know (albeit someone I find often has the air of wisdom without actually being wise) said to me tonight, "Stay away from people in relationships." It really got under my skin. Am I bringing this pain on myself? Should I avoid being friends with people if I start feeling I might crush on them?

Recently, it seems to me that much of my romantic pain has been caused in relation to people in monogamous relationships. I've been bemoaning society and how it leads us to believe all sorts of things about relationships that aren't true, such as that mono is the only way and poly means you don't really love someone.

But the world is this way. So given that it is... should I just work with it? Should I close myself off, distance myself in some ways? Or does this just provide the illusion of protection?
If it's been causing you pain recently, it's time to try something else, namely avoiding getting too close to people in relationships. Be friends, sure, but don't put yourself into situations where you might start crushing on them.
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Old 04-20-2012, 11:46 AM
opalescent opalescent is offline
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Well, in broad strokes, if you think you have a pattern of falling for unavailable people, examine why. There is likely something valuable to be learned from reflecting on that.

However, the heart is a wily beast and not so easily controlled. Unless you only hang out with always available poly people (rarer than the fabled unicorn!) you will come across attractive, awesome people who are unavailable for whatever reason. Maybe they are mono, maybe poly saturated, busy with life or just not interested.

I think you handled the situation with your recent crush beautifully. It didn't turn out how you wanted which is so painful. But you may have made a long lasting connection with this couple. The friend could not reciprocate but I suspect she may reflect back with joy knowing that you, while she was so sick and struggling, still found her lovely and desirable. That is a hell of a gift. And think of what she gave you, honesty and trust and respect for your gift, even though she couldn't accept it. You seem to have learned so much. Yes you could avoid the pain of rejection and loss by avoiding similar situations or people. But maybe you shouldn't. A much harder path with more pain but possibly so much more alive and rewarding!
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Old 04-20-2012, 12:50 PM
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First up, I agree with what the other responders have said so far.

Quote:
Originally Posted by LemonCakeIsALie33 View Post
That is, if I am close with someone who is in a monogamous or monogamous-by-default relationship, someone who does not identify as poly (but may not be mono) should I distance myself romantically? Should I avoid allowing a crush to develop?
If they have made no overtures about being poly, then yes, you should totally avoid any romantic entanglement with, and should file them away as "do not touch" when it comes to crushes. Developing crushes where the only hope of something happens is in your dreams and fantasies will probably only end up with you frustrated and hurt, or doing something colossally stupid (or some combination).

However, I know someone who was in exactly this position, and trying to talk reason to her was like trying to talk to a brick wall.... It's too easy to get into the "but what if he/she is really poly and doesn't know it", or convincing yourself that the existing relationship is either not good for him or already on the rocks. "Here be Dragons"

So if you can control, it, then please do so.

Quote:
Originally Posted by LemonCakeIsALie33 View Post
Someone I know (albeit someone I find often has the air of wisdom without actually being wise) said to me tonight, "Stay away from people in relationships."
That is the version in a monogamous world - the poly version of this would be "Stay away from people in monogamous relationships". But you can also add to this that you need to stay away from developing crushes on folks who are profoundly monogamous if you are polyamorous - that can lead to large amounts of pain and suffering too.

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Originally Posted by LemonCakeIsALie33 View Post
It really got under my skin. Am I bringing this pain on myself? Should I avoid being friends with people if I start feeling I might crush on them?
Maybe you need to distinguish friendship from romantic interest. I have quite a few people who I feel attracted to who are not available. But I know that and I don't let it go further in my mind than "wow, that person is attractive". I don't picture myself having a romantic relationship with them and certainly would never dream of acting on it in any way that made their lives difficult or ruined our friendship. (For the record, one of my friends does know that I find her very attractive in many ways, and the only reason I told her was because I knew I could trust her not to assume that that meant anything other than the fact that I think she is a dear sweet person...)

So there's nothing wrong with being attracted to someone, it's all about what you do with that, both your actions, and how much you let it eat at you.

Quote:
Originally Posted by LemonCakeIsALie33 View Post
Recently, it seems to me that much of my romantic pain has been caused in relation to people in monogamous relationships. I've been bemoaning society and how it leads us to believe all sorts of things about relationships that aren't true, such as that mono is the only way and poly means you don't really love someone.
For some people monogamy is the only way that they want to have a relationship. I think that we need to respect that in the same way that we would respect any boundary, and in the same way that we would like them to accept our way.

Feel free to bemoan society - there are plenty of folks in the poly and queer communities that do the same - and the idea that there are some folks out there who may well be poly but have been conditioned by society to think that monogamy is the only way is one that is disturbing from a global aspect but also because it reduces the pool of available relationships. But I firmly believe that folks have to come to their own realisations about things like this - it's not our job to "convert" anyone, just to show that this is indeed, a viable lovestyle.

Quote:
Originally Posted by LemonCakeIsALie33 View Post
But the world is this way. So given that it is... should I just work with it? Should I close myself off, distance myself in some ways? Or does this just provide the illusion of protection?
If you are not capable of handling and controlling your feelings towards unavailable people, then yes, I think you need to do that. However, I would suggest that you also do some work on yourself along the lines of distinguishing attraction from the automatic desire to have a relationship with them. Because if you can get better at doing that, then you may well be able to be more open to folks, and not let it get out of hand. You will be able to keep friendships and be a lot happier in the process.
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Old 04-20-2012, 03:03 PM
AnotherConfused AnotherConfused is offline
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I am wondering what you mean by "crush" if it is turning out to be painful. I have always enjoyed developing crushes on people, when there is no expectation or hope of it becoming a relationship. For me I guess that feels like a friendship with a little extra layer of excitement that makes the time spent together feel especially good. I don't think this is harmful to anyone.

I don't know what happened in your case but it sounds like there was something else going on. If your pain is from frustration or disappointment, does this mean you had hopes of a (beyond friendship) relationship developing, or the crush being reciprocated?

The problem I see with people "staying away from" monogamous people is that it sets monogamy up to be very lonely. My mother seems to believe I shouldn't befriend men, since I am married (she doesn't know the half of it) but I see where that expectation of marriage got her -she's twice divorced and has given up dating. I would think even the most deeply monogamous deserve friendships and interactions outside their marriage.
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Old 04-20-2012, 05:23 PM
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Originally Posted by CielDuMatin View Post
It's too easy to get into ... convincing yourself that the existing relationship is either not good for him or already on the rocks.
My bf and I lost two good friends because of this. I came to find out that she was prying and trying to convince my bf that he shouldn't be with me, that our relationship is "bad" and "unhealthy" and that he could never be happy with me because he's poly and I was never going to come to terms with the whole idea.
It really turned out that she was upset that I wasn't yet okay with him being with her also, but at the same time she was completely unwilling to talk to me about poly and what her expectations were or what mine should be (she's the experienced poly one, not bf and I). I believe she did this unconsciously, but regardless the damage done to our friendship with her is quite extensive.

If you end up doing this and it all blows up in your face (and there's a good chance it will) you will be looked upon by the other parties with great suspicion from then on.
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Old 04-20-2012, 06:56 PM
km34 km34 is offline
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Originally Posted by CielDuMatin View Post
Maybe you need to distinguish friendship from romantic interest. I have quite a few people who I feel attracted to who are not available. But I know that and I don't let it go further in my mind than "wow, that person is attractive". I don't picture myself having a romantic relationship with them and certainly would never dream of acting on it in any way that made their lives difficult or ruined our friendship. (For the record, one of my friends does know that I find her very attractive in many ways, and the only reason I told her was because I knew I could trust her not to assume that that meant anything other than the fact that I think she is a dear sweet person...)

So there's nothing wrong with being attracted to someone, it's all about what you do with that, both your actions, and how much you let it eat at you.
Everyone has given great advice, but this is exactly what I wanted to say. People say you can't help who you fall in love with, and to a certain extent that is true, but as soon as you realize you have feelings deeper than friendship you need to take action. If it is someone unavailable (monogamous, poly saturated, or whatever the situation may be), you need to stop your thought pattern. You can't focus on how he/she is great because of x,y, and z and "oh, my.. We would make such a perfect couple." You have to focus on the fact that you're friends, he/she is NOT available for anything more than what you're getting now, and that you don't want to risk causing yourself or anybody else pain by building unrealistic dreams/expectations.

I always think of it kind of like anger. It's not always appropriate to show anger. If I get pissed at my boss because he did something that I didn't like, I can't yell at him. I have to find some other way of getting that emotion out - going home and writing in a journal or writing a letter to him I'll never send or going to the gym or punching a pillow. If I get a crush or fall for someone that I know I can't have, I train myself to think of the positives of keeping the relationship the same and lavish the other people in my life with extra attention until I don't feel the need to act on anything with that particular person.

Opal also has an extremely good point. You need to figure out why you keep falling for unavailable people. After you figure that out, you should be able to figure out whether or not you truly need to stop getting close to people who aren't available for something more than a close friendship.
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Old 04-20-2012, 07:10 PM
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nycindie nycindie is offline
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The problem I see with crushes is that people think they have to act on them. You don't. There is a thing called self-control.

The other problem is thinking that having a crush is falling in love. It isn't. It's just a bunch of chemicals in your brain responding to a bunch of chemicals in someone else's brain. Don't make it out to be more than it is.

You can develop a crush on someone, enjoy it completely, and never have to let that person know or do anything about it. It's natural for human beings to have attractions to other human beings and we can't always expect them to meet our checklist of requirements for romantic partners or liaisons. We can have crushes on people we work with, situations where nothing can or should happen, and on people who are unavailable. So what if it's inappropriate to be with that person? Should I inhibit myself from feeling that tingly deliciousness every time that person is in close proximity to me? Why should I? I'm an adult and know how to behave and control myself. Eventually the crush dies down, goes away, and I'll have a crush on someone else. Such is life.

It's rather juvenile to think that having a crush means it is love or that we have to have that person, seduce that person, fuck that person, or turn the crush into a relationship -- like a kid who screams and cries until someone hands them that shiny new toy they see and now MUST have. A mark of maturity is knowing where boundaries lie and respecting them. But that doesn't mean I can't go home and fantasize about someone who is off-limits and give myself a good hot time while entertaining those thoughts.

Crushes don't bother me. I have them and enjoy them, and don't get hung up on them. If you have a clear sense of who you are and what you want in life, you will also know what kinds of relationships you can cultivate and where to invest your mental energy.
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Last edited by nycindie; 04-20-2012 at 07:17 PM.
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Old 04-20-2012, 07:54 PM
LemonCakeIsALie33 LemonCakeIsALie33 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zylya View Post
If it's been causing you pain recently, it's time to try something else, namely avoiding getting too close to people in relationships. Be friends, sure, but don't put yourself into situations where you might start crushing on them.
How can I do that? I find that the more I get to know someone I might crush on, the more my feelings develop, and I'm not sure anything varies but the time scale.

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Originally Posted by opalescent View Post
Well, in broad strokes, if you think you have a pattern of falling for unavailable people, examine why. There is likely something valuable to be learned from reflecting on that.
I don't think I fall for unavailable people - I sometimes fall for people who are in relationships (and who perhaps have never questioned monogamy). For instance, here's the distinction: There is one person I know who I could perhaps have developed a crush on. He is in a monogamous relationship, and he is truly monogamous. He only has feelings for her and only wants to be with her. They are very much in love. Most of the time, I only feel compersion for them, and overall this friendship causes me no pain. He is very clear that he is happily unavailable, and truly so. So in my mind I filed him the way I used to always file people in any sort of relationship: unavailable.

But some people aren't monogamous, but they are in monogamous relationships. And this is where it gets tricky. Somehow, I think, I sense their feelings for me, and perhaps even subconsciously, my own developing feelings for them are encouraged by this. (I would never cheat. Never. So my actions are not the issue.)

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Originally Posted by opalescent View Post
However, the heart is a wily beast and not so easily controlled. Unless you only hang out with always available poly people (rarer than the fabled unicorn!) you will come across attractive, awesome people who are unavailable for whatever reason. Maybe they are mono, maybe poly saturated, busy with life or just not interested.
Yep. :/

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Originally Posted by opalescent View Post
I think you handled the situation with your recent crush beautifully. It didn't turn out how you wanted which is so painful. But you may have made a long lasting connection with this couple. The friend could not reciprocate but I suspect she may reflect back with joy knowing that you, while she was so sick and struggling, still found her lovely and desirable. That is a hell of a gift. And think of what she gave you, honesty and trust and respect for your gift, even though she couldn't accept it. You seem to have learned so much.
Thank you. But I don't think it's over yet. She won't be sick forever, I hope. I still have hope for something different than friendship - maybe in a year from now, maybe sooner, maybe later. She is the sort of person that I think will be in my life for a long time. I honestly just want to be with her in whatever way I can. I will wait for her, and if she ever says I should stop waiting, I will still be her friend. (This situation is helped because she's more or less asexual - so friendship and relationship are mostly just labels for type of feelings, not degree of feelings.)

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Originally Posted by opalescent View Post
Yes you could avoid the pain of rejection and loss by avoiding similar situations or people. But maybe you shouldn't. A much harder path with more pain but possibly so much more alive and rewarding!
Thank you.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CielDuMatin View Post
If they have made no overtures about being poly, then yes, you should totally avoid any romantic entanglement with, and should file them away as "do not touch" when it comes to crushes. Developing crushes where the only hope of something happens is in your dreams and fantasies will probably only end up with you frustrated and hurt, or doing something colossally stupid (or some combination).
I'm just not sure these are fantasies - with my friend above, who is naturally monogamous, I don't have these conflicted feelings. In fact, I'm not sure I've ever had such feelings for someone who doesn't return them at all - and that's the problem.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CielDuMatin View Post
However, I know someone who was in exactly this position, and trying to talk reason to her was like trying to talk to a brick wall.... It's too easy to get into the "but what if he/she is really poly and doesn't know it", or convincing yourself that the existing relationship is either not good for him or already on the rocks. "Here be Dragons"
I don't feel the second urge, but I do feel the first. Can you explain why that is harmful? I'm 21 - the vast majority of people my age who are poly don't know it. Should I not try, at least, to bring it up?

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Originally Posted by CielDuMatin View Post
So if you can control, it, then please do so.
Can I? I don't know.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CielDuMatin View Post
That is the version in a monogamous world - the poly version of this would be "Stay away from people in monogamous relationships". But you can also add to this that you need to stay away from developing crushes on folks who are profoundly monogamous if you are polyamorous - that can lead to large amounts of pain and suffering too.
The second part is easy - the first part is hard, mostly because of my age and the age of those around me, I think.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CielDuMatin View Post
Maybe you need to distinguish friendship from romantic interest. I have quite a few people who I feel attracted to who are not available. But I know that and I don't let it go further in my mind than "wow, that person is attractive". I don't picture myself having a romantic relationship with them and certainly would never dream of acting on it in any way that made their lives difficult or ruined our friendship.
I don't mean that sort of attraction - I mean romantic attraction. Not "I love that we're both into scifi and also I want to bang you, but I'm fine with friendship" but "I want to be with you, maybe for a long time."

Quote:
Originally Posted by CielDuMatin View Post
For some people monogamy is the only way that they want to have a relationship. I think that we need to respect that in the same way that we would respect any boundary, and in the same way that we would like them to accept our way.
But isn't it okay to ask them if that's true for them?

Quote:
Originally Posted by CielDuMatin View Post
I firmly believe that folks have to come to their own realisations about things like this - it's not our job to "convert" anyone, just to show that this is indeed, a viable lovestyle.
That is fair.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CielDuMatin View Post
If you are not capable of handling and controlling your feelings towards unavailable people, then yes, I think you need to do that. However, I would suggest that you also do some work on yourself along the lines of distinguishing attraction from the automatic desire to have a relationship with them. Because if you can get better at doing that, then you may well be able to be more open to folks, and not let it get out of hand. You will be able to keep friendships and be a lot happier in the process.
Part of the problem arises in that I recently admitted I'm biromantic (that is, I don't just want to bang girls - I want to be with some of them). Both these two recent painful crushes began before I realized this about myself. With my friend who is sick, E, I did warn her when I first started crushing (because this was in the midst of my painful realization about R, the girl I was halfway in love with and had been in denial about it) - I said to E, "I think I could get a crush on you. Could you get a crush on me, too?" And E grinned and said, "Yeah. I could." (It's also worth noting that both women were single when I began to crush - but when I asked this question, E was in a relationship.)

Perhaps future women I meet I'll be able to be aware of this sooner and not get into these situations.

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Originally Posted by AnotherConfused View Post
I am wondering what you mean by "crush" if it is turning out to be painful. I have always enjoyed developing crushes on people, when there is no expectation or hope of it becoming a relationship. For me I guess that feels like a friendship with a little extra layer of excitement that makes the time spent together feel especially good. I don't think this is harmful to anyone.
Oh - that's not what I mean. Not friendship plus sexual tension. Friendship plus "I want to be with you." (If it's just tension I call it a "little crush.")

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Originally Posted by AnotherConfused View Post
I don't know what happened in your case but it sounds like there was something else going on. If your pain is from frustration or disappointment, does this mean you had hopes of a (beyond friendship) relationship developing, or the crush being reciprocated?
Yes.

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Originally Posted by Tesla View Post
My bf and I lost two good friends because of this. I came to find out that she was prying and trying to convince my bf that he shouldn't be with me, that our relationship is "bad" and "unhealthy" and that he could never be happy with me because he's poly and I was never going to come to terms with the whole idea.
It really turned out that she was upset that I wasn't yet okay with him being with her also, but at the same time she was completely unwilling to talk to me about poly and what her expectations were or what mine should be (she's the experienced poly one, not bf and I). I believe she did this unconsciously, but regardless the damage done to our friendship with her is quite extensive.
Since I realized I'm poly and this started becoming more of an issue, I've never had a crush on a person in a relationship and not told them so and been open about it.

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Originally Posted by Tesla View Post
If you end up doing this and it all blows up in your face (and there's a good chance it will) you will be looked upon by the other parties with great suspicion from then on.
I would never do such a thing, I promise.
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Last edited by LemonCakeIsALie33; 04-20-2012 at 07:58 PM.
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Old 04-20-2012, 10:56 PM
LemonCakeIsALie33 LemonCakeIsALie33 is offline
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Originally Posted by km34 View Post
Everyone has given great advice, but this is exactly what I wanted to say. People say you can't help who you fall in love with, and to a certain extent that is true, but as soon as you realize you have feelings deeper than friendship you need to take action. If it is someone unavailable (monogamous, poly saturated, or whatever the situation may be), you need to stop your thought pattern. You can't focus on how he/she is great because of x,y, and z and "oh, my.. We would make such a perfect couple." You have to focus on the fact that you're friends, he/she is NOT available for anything more than what you're getting now, and that you don't want to risk causing yourself or anybody else pain by building unrealistic dreams/expectations.
For me, in cases of a real crush and not just a silly infatuation or sexual crush, I generally just have to stop being friends with the person or otherwise distance myself for a time. I feel so strongly and deeply that if my feelings for the person are rooted in true compatibility and not just chemistry/simple attraction, I can cut off those thought processes but only prolong the inevitable fall.

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Originally Posted by km34 View Post
I always think of it kind of like anger. It's not always appropriate to show anger. If I get pissed at my boss because he did something that I didn't like, I can't yell at him. I have to find some other way of getting that emotion out - going home and writing in a journal or writing a letter to him I'll never send or going to the gym or punching a pillow. If I get a crush or fall for someone that I know I can't have, I train myself to think of the positives of keeping the relationship the same and lavish the other people in my life with extra attention until I don't feel the need to act on anything with that particular person.
Whoa, whoa, whoa. With a friend, it's absolutely appropriate to express anger (in a healthy way). And in the same way, it is also appropriate to express romantic feelings. Being straightforward does NOT mean coercion or selfishness. It means openness and trust, which I have with my friends of all sorts.

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Originally Posted by km34 View Post
Opal also has an extremely good point. You need to figure out why you keep falling for unavailable people. After you figure that out, you should be able to figure out whether or not you truly need to stop getting close to people who aren't available for something more than a close friendship.
I addressed this above. It's not quite accurate.

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Originally Posted by nycindie View Post
The problem I see with crushes is that people think they have to act on them. You don't. There is a thing called self-control.

The other problem is thinking that having a crush is falling in love. It isn't. It's just a bunch of chemicals in your brain responding to a bunch of chemicals in someone else's brain. Don't make it out to be more than it is.

You can develop a crush on someone, enjoy it completely, and never have to let that person know or do anything about it. It's natural for human beings to have attractions to other human beings and we can't always expect them to meet our checklist of requirements for romantic partners or liaisons. We can have crushes on people we work with, situations where nothing can or should happen, and on people who are unavailable. So what if it's inappropriate to be with that person? Should I inhibit myself from feeling that tingly deliciousness every time that person is in close proximity to me? Why should I? I'm an adult and know how to behave and control myself. Eventually the crush dies down, goes away, and I'll have a crush on someone else. Such is life.

It's rather juvenile to think that having a crush means it is love or that we have to have that person, seduce that person, fuck that person, or turn the crush into a relationship -- like a kid who screams and cries until someone hands them that shiny new toy they see and now MUST have. A mark of maturity is knowing where boundaries lie and respecting them. But that doesn't mean I can't go home and fantasize about someone who is off-limits and give myself a good hot time while entertaining those thoughts.

Crushes don't bother me. I have them and enjoy them, and don't get hung up on them. If you have a clear sense of who you are and what you want in life, you will also know what kinds of relationships you can cultivate and where to invest your mental energy.
See, this is very much not what I mean when I say crush - you're talking about what I'd call infatuation. That's sexual feelings, and warm-fuzzy-sexual feelings are NOT the same as what I mean when I say "crush." When I say "crush," I mean, "I think I could maybe really be with this person, and not in just a casual way, and not in just a sexual way." In fact, the most recent crush actually isn't very sexual. I think about being with her, living with her, sharing a life with her, and honestly I'd be okay with it even if we never slept together (I'm a very sexual person, but she's somewhere near asexual on the spectrum).

Mostly, I just wonder - what is wrong with asking someone my age (so young, and so unformed still) whom I'm interested in how they feel about polyamory? If they say they're not sure or they're open to it, does that mean I should back off? I think that's just cutting myself off from something potentially wonderful.
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Last edited by LemonCakeIsALie33; 04-20-2012 at 11:01 PM.
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