#185: My friend is obsessed with someone who barely knows she exists.

Charlize Theron in Young Adult

Not a role model.

Hi Captain.

I have a friend who has become obsessed with a man who has never even spoken to her (no, the “friend” is not me). She has spent hours and hours ruminating about this man, to the point that I am concerned how she has let this seriously affect her life.

It happened like this: she first encountered him at work. He moved aside to let her pass through a doorway, their eyes met, and she felt that they had some sort of intense connection, that affected her. By her account, he seemed to be responding to her, too, and just looked sort of stunned. She seldom dealt with the higher ups, but this man turned out to be the boss of the large business, which she did not know at the time ! She was injured at work soon after, and went into a retraining program, so she no longer works there, but remains friends with some of her former co-workers.

She did have a couple of odd incidents where she encountered him — once in a mall, and another time right on her street(though he was in the area working with his crew). She described him as looking sort of shocked to see her, and that he kept staring at her. She described these incidents as very intense, and felt that he was feeling this, too. However — he never even said hello to her !

She was going through some hard stuff in her life, so I wanted to cut her some slack, but this man became the focus of many of our conversations. She announced to the man that she is living with that “she had fallen in love with somebody”, and began to end their relationship. Her boyfriend of 10 years+ was hurt and surprised, and tried to make a greater effort towards their relationship. He did not move out, even though she was talking to all her friends about how the relationship was over for her.

Through her friends, Facebook, and the internet she began to gather information about the subject of her obsession. She discovered that he was engaged, then got married, then had a baby with a significantly younger woman(who she also gathered information about). Her former co-workers had given her some basic details about this guy, but had also become increasingly blunt in questioning why he would be interested in her, since he now has a young family( hint, hint). She continued to obsess about him — even to the point of knowing what neighborhood he lives in. She wrote him an ambiguous note signed with her full name. I strongly urged her NOT to send this. Different friends encouraged her to send it, so she did(to his work), and not surprisingly never received a phone call, email or even a FB friend request. She continued to obsess — and reads her own tarot cards constantly for any possible signs. She now feels that she could never go back to work at this large business, or even in that industry, since she now feels foolish about sending the note to him.

I tried to be a supportive friend, as the other stuff that was going on with her was tough. I listened as much as I could, while also trying to be kind to her. I suggested that she dodged a bullet — like what kind of engaged, married, then new father sort of guy would carry on an illicit romance anyway ? Answer: probably not a good one. I feel puzzled about how I should respond to this entire situation. I knew she was feeling pretty stressed and fragile about some heavy stuff that was happening in her family (terminal illness, addiction, property issues, difficult dynamics). On one hand a secret crush can be thrilling and amusing, escapist. On the other hand, I am concerned about how much this crush has affected some serious parts of her life. What is a good friend supposed to do here ?

the Listener

Hello Listener,

We talk a lot about how to be supportive and not derail our friends when they tell us stuff, BUT your letter is an object reminder that being a good friend does NOT mean you have to endlessly listen to your friends without ever disagreeing with them or raising concerns.

Your friend is way over the line here. Like, Young Adult over the line (Synopsis: Charlize Theron plays a woman going through some personal crises who decides to move back to her hometown and wrest her high school sweetheart away from his happy marriage and new baby. It ends extremely awkwardly.)

She did not write to me. You did. And my advice to you is simple: Stop listening to her talk about this dude. Do your part to stop enabling this obsession. A possible script:

Friend, I know you’re really invested in this guy, but from what you’ve told me I see no indication that he feels the same way, and I’m worried that you are going to seriously cross a line in continuing these attentions.”

(Listen for a bit)

Okay, I wanted to make my concerns known, and tell you that I will need to change the subject from now on when (this guy) comes up. I’m not comfortable discussing him with you anymore.

Then you change the subject.

If she can’t?

You hang out less, or not at all.

This is because you can’t control what she will do or how she feels, but you can control how it affects you and how much you want to engage. If you guys are close enough that you feel like you can recommend counseling to her, as in “I know it can be hard to let go of something like this, have you ever thought of talking to someone about it and really working through the feelings?” then do so. Could lead to the “Wait, do you think I’m crazy?” conversation, to which you say “I think you are overly invested/having a disproportionate reaction to this particular thing and could use some help sorting it through.”

Simple doesn’t mean easy, but I wish you luck.

And here’s a poem about being obsessed, which is something I’m sure many Awkwardeers can relate to. Good news! It passes, eventually.

The Stupid Jerk I’m Obsessed With- Maggie Estep

THE STUPID JERK I’M OBSESSED WITH
stands so close
I can feel his breath on my neck
and smell the way he would smell
if we slept together
because he’s THE STUPID JERK I’M OBSESSED WITH
and that’s his primary function in life
to be a STUPID JERK I CAN OBSESS OVER
and to talk to that dingy bimbette blonde
as if he really wanted to hear about her
manicures and pedicures and New Age Ritualistic Enema Cures
and, truth be told, he probably does want to
hear about it
because he is
THE STUPID JERK I’M OBSESSED WITH
and he does anything he can to lend fuel to
my fire
he makes a point
of standing, looking over my shoulder
when I’m talking to the guy who adores me
and would bark like a dog and wave to strangers
if I asked him to bark like a dog and wave to strangers
But I can’t ask the guy to bark like a dog
or impersonate any kind of animal at all
cause I’m too busy
looking at the way
THE STUPID JERK I’M OBSESSED WITH
has pants on
that perfectly define his well shaped ass
to the point where I’m thoroughly frantic
I’m just gonna go home
stick my head in the oven
overdose on nutmeg and aspirin or sit in the bathtub
reading The Executioner’s Song
and being completely confounded by the
fact that I can see
THE STUPID JERK I’M OBSESSED WITH’s face
defining itself in the peeling plaster of the wall
grinning
and winking
and I start yelling: “Hey, get out of there,
you’re just a figment of my overripe imagination,
get a life and get out of my plaster and pass me
the next painful situation, please.”
But he just keeps on
grinning
and winking
he’s THE STUPID JERK I’M OBSESSED WITH
and he’s mine
in my plaster
and frankly,
I COULDN’T BE HAPPIER

48 comments
  1. Sheelzebub said:

    ITA with the Captain, here.

    Also, some of her friends advised her to send the note? THE FUCK? THE FUCKITY FUCK???

    I have heard friends give absolutely shitty advice before, but never anything like that. (Though close–when a friend was dumped by his girlfriend, our mutual friends said he make her explain why (she did explain why she wanted to end it) and work things out even though she ENDED IT AND I WAS ALL OH MY FRAKKING GOD ACCEPT THE NO ALREADY DO NOT LISTEN TO THESE PEOPLE THEY AREENCOURAGING YOU TO ACT LIKE A STALKER, FRIEND! and FRIENDS, DO NOT EVER GIVE AN EX OF MINE THIS ADVICE WRT ME OR I WILL THROW YOU ALL INTO A SHARK TANK WITH BLOODY STEAKS STAPLED TO YOUR ASSES.)

    I hope your friend gets help because it sounds like she’s in crisis, and she needs to find other ways to distract/comfort herself when things get shitty. This could grow into a really bad pattern–she’ll eventually tire of this guy but glom on to someone else when things get shabby for her. And she needs to stop this. It never ends anywhere good.

  2. This really sounds like the friend needs to see a psychiatrist. Not psychologist, psychiatrist.

    Everything about this story doesn’t say “fuzzy emotional issues” to me, it says “brain chemistry.” I know it’s bad to third-hand telediagnose mental illness but I’d urge the LW to do everything in their power to get the friend to see someone who can for-real diagnose her.

    Something about all this is not right in a way that goes way beyond “I can see how someone might feel that way,” for me.

    • JenniferP said:

      Yep. You can’t MAKE people do that stuff, though, so 1st priority is set your own boundaries.

      • Yeah, I realize “everything in their power” is going too far. But it would be good if they could suggest and encourage their friend to do so.

        • Yeah. I say this below as well, but one of the most frustrating things I’ve ever dealt with is someone who HAS a therapist/psychiatrist, but WON’T TELL THEM about the exact issue that’s tangled up their entire life. I just. What. I can’t. Why are you even spending the money. wtf.

          So yeah. You have to focus on not making it worse and keeping out of it, until the tide turns. A nice water-tight compartment? I metaphor good.

          • Eventually, it gets back to something I tell myself a lot when I see really gory/heartbreaking stuff in the ER:

            “This was already happening without me. It did not become my personal issue just because I happened to witness it.”

            It’s good to help, but there’s only so much responsibility someone bears when their only involvement with the drama is “witness.”

          • Jason said:

            “Lemme talk to your therapist. 5 minutes, I promise. I’ll be brief.”

            If only.

          • Ruthi said:

            To be fair, if the therapist/psychiatrist is new, it may take a little to feel like you can trust them. Especially since the real issues are probably things that are deeply personal and possibly something the person was afraid of being judged for. It can take a while to feel like you trust someone to the point where you’re willing to tell them about your real issues. So you could see it as a waste of money, but you can also see it as building the foundation for a relationship where you feel comfortable enough to really examine your issues.

          • Well, the reason I saw it as a waste of money is that the person in my life has had this therapist for ten years, and just quietly omits this major element of her life from her sessions (she has told me). I think it’s a combination of wanting a long-term therapist’s approval and not wanting to hear from someone professional that this whole business is a Bad Idea. But if you get to a point where you only want to tell a therapist about pleasant, positive things in your life to give them the idea that everything’s fine–why are you going?

            The point is, it doesn’t really matter *why* someone might not want to be honest to a therapist. It’s just that you can’t force them to be. I kind of said something like this below, but that’s why I tend to think that the most helpful approach, as far as therapists go, is to encourage the friend to see someone about the background issues in her life, both because she might be more willing to talk about issues she doesn’t have to defend, and really, easing those issues might help ease the obsession itself. Maybe the obsession will reveal itself, and maybe the therapist can bring it out. I think the person in the situation needs help, but there’s a point where you have to accept that you can only point them towards it; you can’t sit on the couch next to them.

          • secretrebel said:

            @cleolinda At that point I’d want to advise them to get *a different* therapist.

            That could be an “as well” as the one they have ten years history with to talk about this one big thing. Presumably they think their existing therapist is helping them. But how great can a therapist be who missed this defining life issue for all this time.

    • Esti said:

      I had the same reaction you did. This is setting off big alarm bells for me.

    • seconded. This letter dinged some serious bells for me wrt a prior housemate/toxic relationship I once had who ended up needing to be involuntarily hospitalised due to a psychotic break. I eventually needed to break all ties with her because she had ended up getting me into a co-dependency-style relationship with her where I put up with her inappropriately acting out her issues because I felt somehow ‘responsible’ for her. If LW wants to keep this person as a friend they will need to establish some really distinct boundaries, I think.

  3. BlackHumor said:

    …I think you’re missing a “not” in that first sentence.

    Otherwise, good answer!

    • JenniferP said:

      Good catch, fixed it!

  4. Poem: Awesome
    Captain Awkward: So, so right.

  5. Oh. Oh dear. I have some really unpleasant news:

    1) The Captain is completely right.

    2) The Captain is completely right because I have a person like this in my life who is still going strong several months into the whole thing. There are ways in which her situation is different, but there are ways in which it is very, very similar, particularly in the WTF STOP TRYING TO MAKE FETCH HAPPEN and OH GOD STOP I CAN’T WATCH THIS ANYMORE ways. (There are also background issues that make Fetch a very appealing kind of escapism with this situation as well.) And she gets angry if you aren’t “supportive.” It’s… really, really hard to deal with. The Captain is completely right about “simple not being easy.”

    I let this person go on more than I would like, but I think I still maintain firmer boundaries than a lot of people in her life, mostly because I just do not have the patience. There is a point where you can only do two things (unless anyone else has any suggestions. oh God please send help): extract yourself from conversations about [Fetch, Which Is Not Going to Happen] as quickly/often as possible, for your own sake, and politely refuse to feed the idea that this is a legitimate subject. Neutral responses, changing the subject, whatever. But you can’t make her stop. You can’t make her see how COMPLETELY STUPID RIDICULOUS it is until she’s ready to realize that on her own. Holly may be right, she may need professional help. The only problem is that a therapist/doctor/psych can’t treat or diagnose anyone who won’t participate in her own treatment. If she doesn’t choose to go in, make an appointment, and tell a professional about this–essentially admitting that it is a problem–you can’t make that happen. *I* haven’t been able to make this happen–my friend is straight-up refusing to tell her therapist what’s been going on. If you can get your friend to see a professional for the root causes, the background issues, the obsession might come out, but you can’t depend on that happening. You can only get yourself out the best you can and not contribute to it (unlike your other friends, who TOLD HER TO SEND THE NOTE WTF), because it’s not even so much that you *shouldn’t* try to intervene, it’s that you can’t.

    • commanderlogic said:

      FETCH WILL NEVER HAPPEN.

      And none for Gretchen Weiner.

      • I still think FETCH can happen!! 🙂

    • commanderlogic said:

      WRT: Friends who told her to send the note.

      ARE WE SURE that the friends totally told her to send the note? Because it could be that they are sane people who said something to the effect of “Well, if he was single and had given any sign that he actually noticed you, AND you reworded the note a bit or a LOT, then maybe you should send it.”

      And then she heard “Blah blah blah he actually noticed you! blah blah blah YOU SHOULD SEND IT!”

      There’s a lot of selective perception, I feel.

      • Are we sure the friends knew the whole situation, for that matter? “I have a big crush on my boss! But he’s not my boss anymore, so it would be okay if he were into it!” “Oh, totally go for it!”

        • commanderlogic said:

          Right! We do not know these friends. They may be cool yet misled! Or they may totally suck. The friends live in a quantum state of cool/suckitude, so let us not judge them by their reputed actions.

          • Well, and I just have a lot (A LOT) of experience with people telling very selective versions of their stories to get the answer or response they really want.

            I totally reserve the right to judge the hell out of Schrödinger’s BFF if they knew all the details and still thought it was an awesome idea, though.

      • MissPrism said:

        Depending on the content of the note, I can also imagine Schroedinger’s BFF saying “Look, if you send this wretched note and he doesn’t respond, will you in the name of $deity_of_choice leave the poor sod alone? In that case, FINE, send it – it’s a daft thing to do and you’ll feel a bit of a tit afterwards but at least that’ll be an end to it.”.

        And then this being interpreted as “yes, great idea! send it!” by someone who doesn’t seem exactly to be on top form as regards interpreting subtle cues.

    • Brightwanderer said:

      What is Fetch? Googling tells me nothing. 😦

      • commanderlogic said:

        It’s from Mean Girls, and you can see it in the first youtube video I linked.

        Basically, Gretchen is trying to coin a phrase and no one will help her make it happen.

  6. Esti said:

    This is one where I (sort of) disagree with the Captain. Your friend needs help of the professional variety. You sound relatively close to her — close enough, at least, to know about the heavy stuff going on in her life, to know in some detail how much she has been fixating on this man, and to see how it has affected her personal and professional life. Obviously you shouldn’t do anything you don’t feel comfortable doing. But if I was in your friend’s shoes, I really hope that one of my friends would sit me down and gently suggest, perhaps more than once, that I talk to a therapist.

    Your friend’s behavior is way past inappropriate crush. She’s refusing to engage in reality — refusing to acknowledge that she doesn’t know the guy, that the fact that he looked at her once is not actually an indication he wants to be with her, that him ignoring her note was a better sign than any her tarot cards could give her. Based on how the guy looked at her once, she has ended a 10 year relationship, potentially burned some professional bridges, is writing off the field she used to work in, and is devoting a lot of her time and mental energy to a guy she’s never spoken with who is married and has a kid. That level of fixation is a red flag generally, but all the moreso when you know that it coincided with a bunch of really bad shit happening in her personal life. If this situation is out of character for her, then it may be that some of the other stuff she’s been dealing with is manifesting itself in this unhealthy obsessive behavior.

    Again, you definitely need to look out for you first, and not do anything you’re not comfortable with. You can’t fix other people when they don’t want to be fixed, and sometimes it’s just too difficult to keep trying to help someone who isn’t interested in being helped. But there can be a step between “can we talk about something else now?” and “I need to cut ties with you because of your issues.” That step can be “Friend, you’ve been spending a lot of time focusing on Dude, and it’s kind of out of character. Is there something else going on?” Or “Friend, what you just described, where you spent three hours today googling this guy’s high school football records? That doesn’t seem like normal reaction to a crush. I love you, and I’m concerned about how you’re behaving and how it’s affecting your life.” The goal is not for you to become her counselor, but for you to let her know that you’re very worried about her and that you think she should speak with someone. It’s very possible that she is deep enough into whatever this is that she won’t be willing to listen. But sometimes hearing sincere concern from a friend can help people understand just how out-of-whack their thoughts or actions have been.

    • RodeoBob said:

      Yeah, I think I gotta second this one.

      Etsi’s script is good! And it’s good because it emphasizes actions and behaviors. The conversation the LW needs to have with their friend is not a “What are you thinking/feeling?” conversation, it’s a “Here’s what I’m seeing you saying/doing” conversation.

      Feelings are invisible, uncertain things, especially other people’s feelings about us. We can’t ever know, not for certain, what someone else is feeling. So focusing on feelings isn’t helpful. At worst, saying “I know you’re really invested in this guy” may even add some legitimacy to this person’s thinking. At best, the friend will simply retreat into “You can’t know what he’s feeling, and you don’t know what we shared in that moment!”

      No, it’s a lot more useful to say “Friend, your behavior is unusual. It’s unusual for how other people deal with crushes, but it’s also unusual for how you normally act.” Talking about the behavior (sending a note, leaving a long-term partner) is concrete, not abstract.

      There’s one other thing I’d add, and that’s a necessary transition from “your behavior about X is worrying me” to “It seems like you’ve had a rough couple of months, what with this, that, and X”. It’s important that both the LW and their friend remember it’s getting the friend help that’s important. It’s not “X is a problem”, it’s “X is a symptom of some bigger problems”. Show compassion for the person, not just the problem. (or is that too cheesy?)

      • JenniferP said:

        You and Esti are both smart and right on! I was more focused on the “You can’t make people take care of themselves, so be ready to disengage” so appreciate these very compassionate, direct, clear, and helpful scripts.

  7. Jason said:

    Who in the blue hells advises a friend to send the note? NOT HELPFUL PEOPLE, that’s who.

    The advice is spot on, and I might only add something with the following flavor: “Friend, I want to be supportive of you, but your statements/actions regarding [SEXAY MYSTERY MAN] are concerning to me. I like you, friend, and I want you to be happy and healthy. As a personal favor to me, would you consider possibly talking to a professional about your current situation?”

    Remember, though, if she won’t help herself, it’s not your obligation to save her. Put on your own oxygen mask first, as they say.

    • Caito said:

      I’m borrowing your script and changing some words slightly for a different-but-quasi-similar situation with a relative. You might have just saved me writing directly to the Captain.

      • Jason said:

        Good luck- let us know how it goes, ok?

  8. Cordelia said:

    Frequent lurker, first-time poster ’round these parts.

    I’d like to echo what Holly Pervocracy above says, and suggest that your friend may want to explore the wonders of Better Living Through Chemistry. How do I know? Because I was that friend. Oh, I never took things as far as she did — certainly never wrote any freakin’ NOTES to the Object of My Affection because MY GOD — but I was completely and thoroughly ass over teakettle for this guy for a better part of a year. Last thing on my mind as I went to sleep; first thing I thought of in the morning. The thought of being in a meeting with him (yeah, he was a co-worker, and wasn’t THAT awesome) paralyzed me with nerves. I lost weight. It totally sucked. Oh, and I was forty years old, married with children, at the time.

    It turns out there’s a condition called “limerence,” which is basically a crush on steroids — a state of overwhelming romantic obsession (now with continuous intrusive thoughts!) I can assure you that your friend is in nine kinds of pain, and that at some level (and it may not even be a particularly deep level) she knows her behavior is…less than optimal. Limerence is a poorly-understood condition, but in my case, I was using Handsome Coworker as a shield against some other things going on in my life. Like, if I was using up all my emotional energy on him, I just couldn’t, and therefore wouldn’t have to, deal with anything else, you know?

    I didn’t really talk to anyone about it at the time, but if I had, here’s what would have helped me, I think: Fresh air and sunshine. Funny movies (no romantic comedies; maybe it’s a Spinal Tap kind of weekend?) As the Captain suggests, someone gently but firmly cutting me off when I started to ramble on about Him again. And perhaps a gentle (or not-so-gentle) suggestion that I find a competent counselor with whom to unpack some of this.

    What finally helped me? In a word: Lexapro, and my life is 100% improved. (Cue triumphant music here.) No more obsessing, no more cyber-stalking the guy, no more heart racing when I get an e-mail from him which turns out to be a group thing like “The Evaluation Seminar will be held at 10:00 a.m. in Room…”

    But, yeah, it’s more than possible that she needs help that you can’t be expected to offer her. Be supportive, but don’t hesitate to draw that line.

    • JenniferP said:

      Thanks so much for this comment, especially the idea of “limerance” – I have another question in the hopper that could use this concept.

    • Lis said:

      Holy cow, that makes so much more sense! I used to get really intense crushes–once a semester, on someone I met in class. I was always too shy to say anything, but the crush itself just made me feel good. Then I went on antidepressants (Lexapro, matter of fact) for my depression, and the super-intense crushes stopped happening. I still meet people and think they’re awesome and worth asking out (not that I have asked them out–but I’ve made a ton of new friends, so BABY STEPS) but it’s no longer that crazy-intense “YOU SAT NEXT TO ME EEE EEE EEE MY WEEK IS SO MADE.”

    • roo said:

      Thanks for posting this. I was that friend, too– down to the Tarot cards and the letter writing (though in my case co-worker complicated matters by flirting with me and kissing me.)

      I thought it was just infatuation making me stupid, coupled with extreme stress and my mental illness (definitely of the psychiatric, not psychological variety.) I’d never heard of limerence.

      I’m over it, thankfully– have been for years. But It’ll be interesting to explore what the hell happened to my brain.

      As to the LW– I think Esti’s advice is good.

    • notemily said:

      I never had ONE person that I obsessed about for a really long time. Instead I had shorter-term obsessions with many people. Before I went on Lexapro, I used to be one of those people who had a new crush every five minutes and just HAD to act on ALL of those crushes. Which led to a lot of horrible, and short, relationships. I grew to hate it, but I felt like I couldn’t help it, because I just kept falling for people. Now that I’m on drugs, I feel much more even-keeled, like I’m no longer just dragged around by the current of my emotions. It’ such a relief.

      On the negative side, it’s also killed my sex drive. So… drugs, not perfect. But they sure can help.

  9. Alberthe said:

    OMG that poem is the story of my life. I obsess. And with one guy, it took me years to realise that we were never meant to happen. Because that was what I thought – that we were actually MEANT to happen, and the knowledge made me freeze or melt into the wallpaper every time he was near. So even though I had a good chance of getting to know him, I didn’t, because everything was so awkward. I can’t say how happy I am now that we never happened;) Thankfully I never told anyone who he was, because their teasing would have stayed with me to this day…

    I also lost a friend over similar behaviour, only this was her, not me. She fell in love with a boy (we were teenagers) because of his looks. She didn’t know him; he was a couple of years above her in school. This lasted years, and she didn’t get any closer to him. When I accidentally got to know him, she wanted me to bring them together. When I refused, we sort of broke up. We did become friends again after a while, but it was never the same. She also wrote a letter. I told her not to send it, but she did. The poor boy was extremely uncomfortable with the whole situation, which is why I didn’t want to take her every time I was seeing him. She did get over him eventually, only to fall for a boy in her new class instead, and for all I know, she still thinks about him. I haven’t seen her in years.

    I agree with those who say that this isn’t healthy, and that she should probably talk to a professional. I, and my friends with me, felt that there was something odd about my friend’s obsessions, but we didn’t have the language or the knowledge to pinpoint it. It wasn’t until I suddenly was convinced I was meant to marry a guy I barely knew years later that I felt I understood her. But my obsession wasn’t healthy either, even if I didn’t make the guy aware of it.

    I don’t know how it was for my friend, but the thing I notice with myself is that I make up stories. I meet someone’s eyes in the corridor or feel a pleasant tingle when someone bumps into me in the elevator, and my head spins out our complete history for the next 20 years in two milliseconds. If the rest of my life is crap, this might be enough for me to continue spinning that story, instead of just shaking my head and let it go. If the person is someone I meet regularly, it could get awkward. It’s as if I forget that the other person is real and not a character in my well-thought-out fantasy. As long as I keep fantasies to myself, it doesn’t matter so much, but the minute I act as if any part of them were real, I have crossed the line. Being aware of my brain’s tendency to obsess makes it a little easier to shrug it off, or at least see it for what it is. In fact, I’ve come to realise that if I’m obsessing over someone, then there is probably something off. But society tells us that it’s perfectly normal to obsess over romantic interests (up until the point where you’re suddenly a stalker), even if you don’t know them at all…

    Wow, that was one hell of an oversharing, and I didn’t even have any advice. If she’s like my friend, she won’t listen to you anyway, and the best thing you can do is to limit the amount you talk about the guy and try to ride it out. As the others have said, show interest in other parts of her life, ask her if she’s ok, and maybe gently suggest a psychiatrist. If she’s been through all the things you mention, she could probably benefit from therapy whether she’s obsessing over strange guys or not. And take care of yourself!

    • JenniferP said:

      Never send the letter!

    • maggie said:

      I just wanted to say — I spin stories too. I’m starting to think it’s a control thing — I can make everybody act the “right way” in my head! Of course, they don’t act the right way, which sucks if you badly want to control what’s going on…

  10. Jai said:

    This woman needs to speak to a therapist before things get REALLY out of hand. Sometimes it’s hard for us to view our own behaviour objectively because we are reasoning emotionally, and we need someone to let us know that how we’re acting is not ok. Ask your friend to seek help. Friends don’t let friends become bunny-boilers.

  11. Jennifer said:

    Therapist? Hell, I think this girl is going to get herself arrested for stalking very, very soon. Any future approaches to dealing with her really need to mention this.

  12. Shora said:

    Soo, letter writer’s friend is pretty much me in high school. Before I knew what healthy romantic relationships were like, AND before I knew social skills, I’d pick a guy and obsess and wallow in my misery. Not. Good. Looking back, I’m surprised I had any friends in high school.

    Anyway, my momma always told me that “everyone is the captain of their own ship.” If LW feels that they are in a place were they can try to help this friend and they want to, then they should do what commenters above have suggested and encourage her to seek professional help. However, if LW cannot do this, or even or especially does not WANT to, then they should seek to disengage. I get the feeling that this is a person who you can sink a lot of emotional energy into and get no return, and this is from experience on both sides of this kind of situation.

  13. CadyK said:

    I have a friend like this. Her crush is a celebrity. She says it’s harmless but she also seems convinced that he is the only one for her. When he got married (to another celebrity) she cried. I worry for her but don’t know how to address it.

    • Mary said:

      Express your concern about outcomes rather than feelings, maybe? That is, less with “I think you need to stop feeling X about celebrity because it is intrinsically bad to have a major crush on a celebrity” and more “when you stay home to watch that celebrity on TV, I think you have less fun than you do when you come out with us” or “I worried that you hurt so much when he got married, because of your pain and because it messed up your work for a week.” (Or even “I want to spend more time with you, and I feel a bit jealous about all your solo ‘date nights’ with that celebrity’s TV show”: if you feel it, own it.)

      Because ultimately, it seems to me, a crush on a celeb, even one that crowds out (for a time? forever?) the possibility of romantic relationships isn’t itself an invalid or worse way to live. (A hopeless crush on a person with whom you have some contact is more difficult because unless you hide it very well, they have to navigate the awkwardness too.) It’s whether or not the crush hurts the person nursing the crush, not the fact of the crush alone.

      • secretrebel said:

        I think a crush on a celeb is okay but a better option for kids and teens who are practicing at love than for adults. It’s intense but it’s safe: you will never meet them. But it’s better for adults to work at and with real relationships (if they want one that is!) and keep celeb appreciation at fan level rather than TRUELOVEFOREVER111eleventy!

        • Mary said:

          Maybe: I am not a big celeb-crusher myself. But the thing with other adults is that telling them how to be emotionally healthy is rather fraught and often either is or comes across as “be more like me!… I mean, be emotionally healthy!” Hence my thought to limit it to raising the specific impact that is being had on specific relationships by specific actions, rather than a general “oh, and also, stop feeling that about the celeb.”

  14. ArmchairPsychiatrist said:

    The reason I’ve chosen this pseudonym is because I’m not a psychiatrist––I’m not even close––but besides “limerence” you might also want to look at something called “de Clérambault’s Syndrome.” It’s quite rare and it doesn’t seem exactly like what your friend has, but it might provide some insight into this kind of thing.

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