Some people blame their behaviour on alcohol – others use love. We’d rather a romantic outlook than feel responsible for our messed-up emotions. Especially when we fancy the wrong person. I’ve spun this carousel – I’ve sold myself the lie: The heart wants what the heart wants. Away from fairy tale fables, you can control who you have feelings for.
Choosing how to act
When my school crush brushed his arm against mine, I was unable to stop my body’s shivers. My heart beat faster; my stomach grew butterflies. Realising he may fancy me, I laid awake imagining us holding hands, kissing. Analysing his behaviour in class, I mentally replayed his actions at lunch and planned what to say on my way home. I was in so deep; I assumed we were destined.
Teenage soulmates – or something of the sort. I also felt this way two years ago. I adored my ex. He was that guy – the one who treats you bad and repeatedly causes upset. The guy you put up with, because your brain likes focusing on his loving gestures. My friends kept telling me to break up. I told them, “I love him.”
I skipped to the rhythm of my dopamine. An intense, passion addict – though I prefer “hopeless romantic”. We assume we play no role in how our hearts fall. And when it comes to developing a crush, it’s true we can’t change our immediate flutters. But we can adapt what happens next.
Dr Max Blumberg features on a Grazia article on adult crushes. The psychologist explains how the “limbic brain” creates our infatuations. To stop your mind from fantasising, Blumberg suggests looking for an activity that creates dopamine (pleasure) to replace the chemical’s impact when picturing your crush.
How to control who you have feelings for
It’s clear why we can’t pick the ideal person to desire – we prefer fun addiction to straight-forward rationale. We pretend we don’t want to have feelings for someone. Years ago, there was a guy from work who had a girlfriend. His enduring eye-contact, flirtatious banter and smile made me blush. As his relationship marked him out of bounds, I attempted to find another guy to like.
I type attempted – in actual fact I did nothing to stop my developing feelings. I looked for him in the morning and hoped he’d join my table at lunch. My phone calls to friends continued my longing. “Why can’t I get over him? He keeps showing up in my mind”.
The job was boring and he presented my only excitement. That’s the truth. I didn’t need time or a night out dancing. Avoiding him wouldn’t dissolve my daydreams. Feelings act as a mirror to emotional problems. Through practice, you can learn to control who you have feelings for by not using people to cover loneliness, boredom, fear, heartache…
The choice to love
Feelings offer lots of choices. The choice to spend less time with someone, the choice to not scroll their social media; the choice to put energy elsewhere. My friend, Jennifer, recently experienced a nasty breakup. Knowing he couldn’t give her what she wanted, Jennifer still considered running back to her ex-boyfriend for several weeks.
She, like me, used the “I can’t help it” excuse. To a certain point, moving on from love requires patience and acceptance. After that, we have options. Jennifer, as much as she persisted, had no intention to forget her ex. He lingered because she hoped for magic. Jennifer longed for her ex to change his goals to make them realign with hers. How can she let go if she’s choosing to invest time waiting for him to return?
A Psychology Today piece highlights the responsibility we have to ourselves to ensure our health and happiness. We can recognise when we’re beginning to fancy someone inappropriate, and we can take steps to not let those feelings become stronger. When we’re ignoring our own self-love to love an individual, we can take steps to end a relationship.
Choosing emotional availability
In series 3, episode 8 of Sex and the City, Charlotte tells the girls: her and Trey are fate. Miranda retorts, “Men are like cabs. When they’re available, their light goes on…. The next woman they pick up is the one they’ll marry. It’s not fate. It’s dumb luck.”
In each of stage of love, we decide if we’re willing to delve further. On Psych Central, an article describes how “timing, compatibility, attraction” and openness makes love possible. To build a connection, you have to be in the right emotional state for feelings to progress. When I look at my past relationships, in each one I felt ready. I strapped myself in for the ride. There was no, “why am I crazy about them?” I encouraged myself to be crazy for them – to listen and share.
Choice is the most romantic
Knowing you can control who you have feelings for increases romance. Particularly when staying in love. We have to choose every day to commit to someone – to make the effort to nurture a partnership. Otherwise love fizzles. I understand why we like to envision our hearts as loose cannons. It’s charming to see our partners as fate. And it enhances the significance of love – a feeling bigger than what us mere mortals can grasp.
By telling ourselves we control our “limbic brain” and hold power over our romantic actions, it means we’ll hold ourselves accountable for not staying in unhealthy situations, not committing infidelity and not allowing heartache to consume us. When you next feel something for a person you shouldn’t, or when an ex re-emerges in your mind, ask yourself what they represent? Do you miss feeling a certain way, were you with a specific ex during a great period in your life, does a person you fancy at work make up for stress and loneliness?
And what can you do to decrease those feelings? In what ways might you be tempting them?
How much do you believe people can control their feelings? Related post: Our On-Again Off-Again Relationship Addiction