Why It's a Good Thing When Your Crush Gets Into a Relationship With Someone Else
Initially crushing on someone can be fun and exciting, but when you've agonized over them for months and nothing romantic progresses between you, it can leave you with feelings of despair.
While it may seem like the only thing worse than them not professing their love for you is professing it for someone else, the latter is actually the best-case scenario.
We reached out to Tracy McMillan, a relationship expert and host of OWN's Family or Fiancé (a series that follows engaged couples who bring their disapproving families together for three days under one roof), to see what she had to say about how you can actually benefit from your longtime crush getting into a relationship with someone else.
Sweety High: What's the natural flow of emotions that a person experiences when their longtime crush gets into a relationship?
Tracy McMillan: The final stage of a breakup often doesn't begin until your former partner (even if they're "just" a crush) gets into another relationship. As long as your former love is just dating casually, or single, it's easy for you to stay in denial, or imagine they'll come back to you. And this can be completely unconscious! But when they get into a real relationship, where it's obvious they're in love and there is something there that will last, reality becomes impossible to ignore any longer.
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SH: Why is it ultimately a good thing if this happens to you?
TM: This is a very good thing! Because you really and truly only want to be with someone who wants to be with you. So letting go of the fantasy relationship with someone ultimately sets you free to be happy—with someone who loves you.
SH: Why is it likely that this will help you get over this person?
TM: If you've heard of the Five Stages of Grief, they are 1. Shock, 2. Denial, 3. Anger, 4. Bargaining and 5. Acceptance. It's easy to stay in denial for a long time. But when you get real evidence that the person you love has moved on, it often moves you to the next stage of grief.
To use a true-crime analogy, this is like a "missing persons" case, where the police finally locate a body. Until the loss of the former love becomes real, our minds often play unconscious tricks on us. But knowing the other person is gone for good is a wakeup call. It's painful, but at least you can move forward now.
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SH: What's the likeliness of you still holding onto this person if they get into a relationship? And why do some people still hold on, while others are able to let go?
TM: People hang on because letting go is too painful. Fantasies or memories of the other person feel good. Why? Because thinking pleasurable thoughts actually releases powerful neurotransmitters into the brain. So when you stop thinking those thoughts and ruminating on those memories and fantasies, there's going to be a period of withdrawal.
SH: What's the best way to act around your crush if they're suddenly in a relationship, but you want to remain friendly with them?
TM: I don't recommend remaining friendly. I recommend acknowledging to yourself that this person has a powerful effect on your brain and that the best thing you can do is go "cold turkey" and stop seeing the person, their photograph, hearing their voice altogether. You can't just [be casual friends] and think you're going to stay in control of it. That's not how powerful brain chemicals work!
You have to stop giving your brain "hits" of the other person as much as possible. Block them on social media, take a different route to class in the hallways, don't stalk their new relationship, and try not to so much as see their face or hear their voice. You'll get over it so much faster. It'll be painful at first, but keeping them living rent-free in your brain makes it painful indefinitely.
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SH: Any other advice you want to provide about dating or crushes?
TM: You've gotta redefine "love" from having strong romantic feelings for someone to being in a relationship where both people want to spend time together, grow together and be there for each other. Love isn't a feeling, it's actions. The sooner you get there, the sooner you will be in a really great relationship.
For more relationship advice from Tracy, click HERE to find out what to do if your parents think your S.O. is a bad influence.