how to stop desiring someone?

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Post by ArmyOfFive on Fri May 29, 2015 5:35 pm

Hi everyone. I'm a long time reader, first time poster, feel like a total loser for communicating like this at all but I need advice about some problems with a man. Well not advice because I know exactly what I should do, which is detach from him and move on. But have no idea how to actually do that. It's like being asked to learn to fly.

Essentially I have what the Doc would call a very bad case of oneitis. I know the standard treatment: cut off contact, see other people.

I can't do either though because he's my boss (yes I'm quite aware of the obvious problem) and because I really have little interest in other people. There are only a handful of people I consider good friends, and I generally disliked them a lot when we first met. Even people who physically attract me, mentally turn me off. Going dating, knowing how little I like most people, is exhausting to even imagine.

Anyway, this came to a head a while ago, and he made it clear he would not consider dating me while we were colleagues.

This is all simple. I fell for a guy who can't/won't reciprocate, it happens every day. My real difficulty though is that we've become friends outside of work. We spend time together, alone. If not for the conversation in which he said we couldn't get involved, it would all feel very flirty, but 99% of me knows this is a friendship, not a romance.

And I do enjoy that friendship a lot. I don't want to lose it. But it's killing me, it's physically painful, my chest hurts, that we talk about being old together as friends and not as lovers.

I know I should tell him that despite The Conversation I still have feelings for him, and that spending time with him is too difficult. But I don't want to create awkwardness at work. And I don't want to lose our friendship. And I don't want to make myself vulnerable.

I guess I just want to no longer desire him, or no longer have the absence of him hurt.

But how do I do that? I can't go nuclear because I work with him. I can't date other people because one -on -one time with new people sounds like torture. I can't convince myself he's a loser because I'm already fully aware of all his many flaws.

So what do I do? Just endure the pain until the day it stops? Silence the 1% of my brain that thinks a relationship could still happen, or embrace it and make a full let him know I'm still interested? Throw myself at his feet or exert my energy to become even more magnificently attractive than I already am?

The best outcome, which I 99% know is pure fantasy, is that we get together. The next best outcome is that I stop wanting that. But how do you stop wanting food, or water or air?

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Post by eselle28 on Fri May 29, 2015 5:47 pm

Oh. Ouch. That's a hard one.

You've said that the friendship is valuable to you, so I'm not going to suggest you end it. I would suggest that you back off from it a bit on a temporary basis, both in terms of the amount of time you spend with him and the degree of emotional intensity. I don't think you need to state this out loud to him - in fact, I think it will go better if you don't. So, you're not spending less time with him because it's painful. You're busy! Busy busy busy! You're not telling him to stop bringing up being old together. You're not bringing it up yourself, or you're changing the topic right back to whatever it was, or you're making a sarcastic comment about his abilities as a fortune teller.

On the busy point, I think that you should actually be busy. That doesn't have to mean dating if that's not something you want to do. It can mean summoning your close friends and spending more time with them, or throwing yourself into a new creative project, or deciding to rewatch all 10 seasons of your favorite TV show. Pick some things that do it for you mentally, if not emotionally, and throw yourself into them.

Work's probably going to be the hardest part. Do you have other colleagues, or is it just you and him? Some of your energy could possibly be directed toward getting to know the other people you work with better, even if the end result of that is you deciding you don't like them very much or at least don't want to be friends with them. Oh, and this isn't one I normally recommend, but you haven't said much about how you feel about the job otherwise. Is finding a new place to work something that's even remotely on the table, or would it be impossible or career-damaging?
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Post by ArmyOfFive on Fri May 29, 2015 7:27 pm

Your advice is excellent, and my jerkbrain is already noting down why it just doesn't work for me. Sigh.

Backing off the friendship . . . the next time he suggests we do something, I can probably convincingly have other plans. But I know the 1% of my brain that thinks "there's still a chance" will try to convince the rest of me that it's some kind of playing-hard-to-get test. And if he doesn't try to talk me into something then OH GOD HE REALLY IS REPULSED BY ME THE AGONY OF IT ALL, but if he does try to get me to do whatever, that same 1% will be doing cartwheels and telling the rest of me that yeah, he loves me, he wants me, he just needs the right moment it's all on.

We have a planned (though not yet scheduled) thing with just the two of us, there is no way to get out of it unless I say "I'm attracted to you, it is painful, I can't do this." I could wait until that's done and THEN back off . . . but then there's a work project we're co-ordinating, which experience tells me will be hell unless we're very friendly.

I could wait until after that, but work itself is a minefield. There are plenty of other colleagues, they all think there's "something" going on, and when we are not on our usual level of friendliness people comment. Colleagues expect us to have a full on shouting match at least once a week, and act like an old married couple.

I like my colleagues well enough on the level of exchanging jokes and small talk - but, as with the vast majority of people I know, I would much rather be alone than actually spend time with them. I'm not a misanthrope as such, superficially I get on with people, but mostly I just don't enjoy social interaction beyond that superficial level.

After The Conversation we explicitly agreed to tone things down at work and try to act like professionals. It didn't even last a week.

As for my job - I'm very good at it, I love it, I don't know if I can emotionally deal with staying in it. It's a small, close-knit industry though and changing jobs would be impossible to explain unless I made it clear that it was to get away from him. But I don't want to get away from him . . . I want to get closer to him . . . or I want to not want that.

I feel like I've worked myself into a double bind, where the only likely outcomes are me doing an Eponine, or we're both 80, in adjacent rooms in the nursing home, and we admit we were attracted to each other all along and we could have been happily naked for decades.

I don't know. Maybe I should just own it. Admit that it hurts, that I have no way to make it hurt less, and that's just how life is. If I can't stop the pain, I can maybe stop being upset about the pain. Hah. I feel so emo. I'm bad with emotions in general. It almost feels like wanting to vomit, in that if I feel a wave of pain I know intellectually that letting it out will be cathartic, but I find puking so deeply, deeply unpleasant that in the short term it's more comfortable to tense my stomach and hold it in. Yes, I do know that "this dude feels like emotional vomit" is a red flag anyway. Intellectually I know the red flags - the problem is getting my emotions to catch up.

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