It's A Pleasure

Why Am I So Attracted To The Wrong Person & How Can I Get Over It?

Crushes are made of small moments that we read way too much into.

Originally Published: 
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Q: In September I started a new retail job and I instantly became fascinated with one of my co-workers. I can’t really pinpoint why, but I felt a really strong connection with him — instantly. As the months progressed, there were so many signs that made me feel like we belonged together. (For example, the first day I started working there was his birthday.) I really made an effort to get to know him better. I felt like he was someone I could potentially be with. I was ready for the next step, to ask for his number.

But out of the blue, one of my other female co-workers told me some unsettling things about him. She said that he had been constantly harassing her and asking her out. He was even trying to make her jealous by pretending to get hickeys and asking other women out. At first, I didn’t believe her (maybe I just didn’t want to believe her) but then I started to hear the same story from other co-workers.

Obviously, I was heartbroken. How could the man I knew — the one with whom I had so many sweet interactions — act like such a douche? My question: Why do I still feel attracted to him? Why do I still think I can salvage something between us? And how do I move past this?

A: There’s absolutely nothing wrong or evil about having a crush on a person who turns out to be a crapbasket. It happens to most of us at least once or twice in our sweet, lovely, horny lives. Crushes are built of the most abstract, inexplicable, confounding stuffing. There’s no rhyme or reason as to why certain objectively attractive people do nothing for us, while a person who calls every single person in their life “dude” makes our heart soar. But one huge issue with crushes and the stuffing they're full of is that a lot of it isn’t very substantial. You would not, for example, want to construct a house out of what they put inside a Build-A-Bear. Crushes are made of small moments that we read way too much into. They’re made of “signs” like starting your job on his birthday or the fact that you always wanted to date someone whose name starts with the letter L. The reason those signs carry so much weight when you have a crush on someone is that there is nothing else. Sorry to be so blunt about it, but the truth is when you actually start to like a person, you like much more definable things about them and their character. You like how they treat people, and how you are when you’re around them.

And yes, when you start to know someone enough to actually like-like them, you often find out things about them that you aren’t infatuated with. But those things ought to be small-ish things. Things like the dorky socks they wear or how they retell the same stories again and again or how you worry that you’re much more ambitious than they are. (All of those are either addressable or ignorable.)

Someone HARASSING people is absolutely not addressable or ignorable within the bounds of a romantic relationship. There’s no way to have a healthy, good, loving relationship with someone who’s also inappropriate and cruel towards other people. That’s a deal-breaker 100% of the time in 100% of cases. It has to be. You cannot and will not ever — ever — have a good relationship with someone who is not kind to people. It does not work. I’m not talking about someone being nice all the time; I’m not talking about you or your partner not liking other people from time to time. Kindness and respect for others is a fundamental trait. It’s a requirement. That’s the absolute basement. The bare dang minimum is that a person is not harassing other people. And someone who’s pretending to get hickeys to make another person who does not want to date them jealous is living in a strange reality, one in which you can’t create a functioning relationship. I feel like I’m running out of ways to say heck no, you can’t have any kind of future with this person.

So why do you think or feel otherwise, despite the fact that you seem to logically “know” what I said above? Well, because you’re human! Don’t think of a crush as a light switch you can turn on and off, but more like a fire that needs to die out. The best way to get over a crush is to wait it out; time is your best friend here. Of course, in the meantime, you can’t be fanning the flames of your crush with flirting and inside jokes. You have to back away in real life from the person so that your brain has time to catch up on the truth. The reality is, you didn’t know him, there is no “man you knew.” There is a person who you were around who lied to you and treated other people badly. Your brain has to figure out — and it will! — that the fantasy crush that it has on him is just that: a fantasy. It’s going to of course be hard and sad to let go of something that seemed very exciting and promising. Try to remember that the thing you’re mourning and letting go of isn’t something that ever could have existed — there was no possible healthy future with this guy. It’s not like you actually lost out on someone who would be good for you. You’re mourning the exciting future you imagined, which is very sad, but more excitement will come. You will find someone else who isn’t cruel to people.

In the meantime, keep away from this guy as much as possible in a safe way (remember that he’s prone to inappropriate and possibly even harmful behavior, so be careful and consider reporting the harassment). Focus on building up your life in other areas. Try something new once a week. Treat yourself to something indulgent or fun. Give yourself a break! There’s no prize at the end of life for having moved on from your crush As Fast As Possible.

It’s A Pleasure appears here every Thursday. If you have a sex, dating, or relationship question, email Sophia at or fill out this form.

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