How To Deal With A Crush You Know You Shouldn't Have

What to do when you like someone you shouldn't.

How To Deal With A relationship You Know You Shouldn't Have getty

If that guy shouldn’t be on your mind, it’s safe to say there’s some kind of problem.

Do you know, perhaps, that he may have a drug or alcohol addiction? That he’s got three divorces behind him already and he’s not even thirty-five? Or — and this one is a classic — he's taken by someone else?

Having been through the last scenario, and basing this advice on what I know now that I wish I had known then, here are some things I would think about when it comes to hoping for a real relationship out of forbidden love:


1. You need to think carefully about what it is that you want and what it is you expect.

I used to dream about actually having help in my life. I had the care of two elderly, handicapped relatives fall into my lap one year, and then, two years later, a cancer diagnosis for my husband. My dream of being able to team up with someone, of not having to handle everything in life alone, was torn away and cruelly replaced with the stuff of nightmares.

So how do you think I felt after my husband passed away and I met my next guy? Sometimes, with how much we feel exhausted and needy, we can get wrapped all around our attraction to someone. We need to be clear-headed and clear-eyed because no matter how needy we are, it doesn’t give us the right or excuse to hurt or use someone else.


2. Your best-case scenario is not going to happen.

Since when does anything go off without a hitch? If your dream of how it could be involves your crush’s successful stay in rehab, your best friend not being upset that you’re dating her ex, or his wife accepting the divorce calmly and the kids ending up liking you, you’d better think again.

Really, what scenario is most likely? If you're avoiding telling anyone, it's because you already know the truth.

3. Your inappropriate crush could end up a truly horrible crash, no matter how good it looks at first.



My fella was making noises about moving out. I was well aware that a lot of men do this — promise to leave, promise to leave, then never do it. I backed off to see what would happen.

After my guy actually did leave, consult a divorce lawyer, and enter therapy, I thought my case was the one in a million that would turn out differently. So did his therapist. So did my therapist.

Swayed by all this evidence that things would work out according to my best-case scenario, I hung in there despite these little creepy-crawly feelings I kept having that something wasn’t right.

Turns out I should have listened to my instincts, not the therapist or him.


4. Appearances can be really, really deceiving.

Everything looks perfect and then — wham! There are two types of professional liars who can shatter your heart into a million pieces and it can take a long time to spot both types.

One is the narcissistic, criminal, or personality disordered person who is callously telling you lies and using you. This is the kind of guy who strings you along with hard luck tales of woe, moves in with you, doesn’t kick the drugs, and then disappears with your bank account.

The other is codependent. This person is an expert at sniffing out what will please you, handing it to you on a silver platter, and then disappearing because he didn't know or couldn't tell you what it was he really wanted, or he doesn’t have the emotional strength to follow through.

But one signal you will always see right up front, no matter which type you’re with, is that you've entered a relationship that most people would tell you that you shouldn’t. With the criminally inclined guy, it’s happening because they really are trying to use you and hurt you.


The codependent doesn’t want to hurt anyone; he just doesn’t have the self-esteem and self-worth to stand up for his own needs. He says "yes" to everyone all the time, then he can’t avoid letting someone down. He may be the sweetest darling, but if he can’t say "no" to anyone and you’re in an inappropriate relationship, he’s probably going to end up saying "no" to you.

When I entered my inappropriate relationship, I had no idea just how emotionally unhealthy both my significant other and his significant other were. Just knowing him socially, he looked so far out of my league, I could never have guessed.

From his stories, I could eventually tell that she was, and I could see why he was unhappy, but when two people are together in a relationship, it’s a sign that both are at the same level of emotional health. When the truth finally hits you, it could be a much harder fall than you ever could have imagined.

5. If it doesn’t work out, it may hurt a whole lot more than even you were ready for.

The failure of my inappropriate crush completely dominated my life for three years and I spent those years in unimaginable pain.


6. It can be difficult to leave.

Leaving a destructive relationship — be it with drugs, food, alcohol, or another person (especially when a wedding ring is involved) — is much, much harder for a person to do than you think it is.

People get addicted to drugs, food, and alcohol in the first place because they have difficult feelings within themselves that the drug, food, or alcohol helped them cope with.


If they had no solution but addiction in the first place, their issues must have been painful, indeed. Now, they have the pain of the addiction plus the pain that drove them to the addiction.

If they aren’t showing you now that they can handle what it is they need to do to get well, understand that they may never. By the time you give up on them, years could pass and your life could suffer in ways you can’t fathom now. And it wasn’t until I did some actual research on divorce that I realized how very difficult divorce is, and all the reasons why.

All of this increases the likelihood that your inappropriate crush will have a bad ending, should you decide to take it further.

7. If other people find out, you need to picture their worst reactions.

Are these something you can live with? For my ex, they weren’t. In my case, if anyone had found out, I could have lost every friend I had.


But, I realize that, despite all these warnings, you feel drawn to take it to the next level with this forbidden person anyway. (I did.)

RELATED: 7 Deeply Upsetting Lessons I Learned From Being 'The Other Woman'

If this is you, realize that you should ask yourself: If all these consequences happen in all the worst ways you can possibly imagine—really put yourself in that scenario—will you still be glad you did it? Or, will you wish you had never done it?

In my case, from only one standpoint do I wish I hadn’t done it — the three years of absolute misery that completely hijacked my mind and my life. The person occupied every waking moment, and I’m not sure I will ever forget him. (Damn that area of the female brain that allows us to multitask!)


In this respect, I have become a different person, forever changed by this experience. I walk through life differently than I used to, constantly accompanied by ghosts, and that isn’t a good thing.

On the other hand, I was widowed and my whole life was gone anyway. I was leaving my forties and entering my fifties. I had to leave behind an entire young self, a happily married self, with happily married dreams for the future, and a young body.

I had to get used to an old self, a widowed self, with all my hopes for the future wiped away, and move into an old body. It was a completely different reality than the one I expected walking down the aisle to be married just six short years before.



This would have been a painful time anyway…just in a different way. The reasons I’m still glad I did this are twofold — those that are about him and those that are about me.

I’m glad I did this because of the state in which I found this person. When I made the choice to say the fateful words that drew us into the relationship, I had a stack of reasons to say them on one hand, and a stack of reasons not to on the other.

This person truly felt unlovable and that was the deciding factor. I decided to say the words because I wanted him to see that he wasn’t, and I knew he would believe me. I think I succeeded there, and I hope he’ll take a piece of that with him for the rest of his life.


For me, I got to know this special person very deeply. Not sexually, but in a way, I’ll always treasure. And I learned.

I thought I was all healed from my tough childhood. I’d had a great marriage, so I must be, right? Wrong.

This relationship introduced me to a whole new need for childhood recovery work that was hiding under the yin-and-yang I’d had with my perfect (for me) husband. Without the teaching this relationship had in store for me, I’d have spent the rest of my life feeling like that little girl who was just too tiny to handle life.

And I learned so much about codependency and how it screws up relationships and lives, I wouldn’t trade that for anything. Considering that I was still codependent, and just didn’t know it yet, going forward into more relationships without that knowledge would have been very dangerous for me over the rest of my life.


If you’re still thinking about approaching that someone you can’t get out of your mind and saying some magic words, make sure you know what spell you’re casting first. And make up your mind, should the spell turn wicked, to delve into all the consequences and learn all you can from whatever happens.

That way, should you be left in pain — which, again, is highly likely when you know the relationship is inappropriate to start with — you will be wiser for the experience.

RELATED: How To End An Inappropriate Crush (That You Shouldn't Have Anyway)

P.D. Reader is a student astrologer who blogs as The Thinking Other Woman. She used self-help books, videos, therapy, (and, yes, astrology!) to make sense of her affair, her life, and her broken heart, and you can, too.