Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.
Unrequited Love Help(31 Posts)
I genuinely need serious advice and I don't know where else to turn. I'm a 21 year old woman who is completely and utterly infatuated with her university lecturer. He's 30 and in a relationship. I'm aware that i'm very young, but I have never felt these feelings before. I've never had crushes on anyone, men or women. This situation is so different.
It's not only that I find him immensely attractive, but from the moment I met him, even before I met him by just reading his academic profile online, I felt a complete and intense connection, that I have never felt ever before. I like to pretend that i'm not a romantic or a spiritualist, but I am. I am deeply. I have never in my life felt a particular deep connection with someone, not even just in a romantic way, but in a platonic way also, and I have searched and searched and searched. I filled my heart with beautiful images and music which satisfied me emotionally to some extent, but there was always a hole waiting to be filled in by sharing this deep emotional feeling with another person. I came to the conclusion that such a thing was impossible, that what I felt that I needed from another was something that did not exist.
And then I met this man and I felt this surge of a feeling I had never felt before. We have very very similar interests in our fields of study. We even have similar mannerisms, writing styles and personalities. I felt like our souls were somehow connected, that us meeting each other was meant to be, that we were destined to do something important together. But now I know this is all romantic bullshit. And yet, I still feel I will never feel such a way about someone again.
I feel such a deep sense of shame and loss right now, it's so so so so so stupid. The whole situation is stupid. What on earth was I thinking... And yet I still feel all these feelings, unbearable feelings, for a man I don't even know really.
I know this is all very dramatic, and I suppose it's because my emotions are just extremely raw right now, but I just want to know how to cope with all this. I have a history of anxiety and depression, and have no friends at the university i'm currently in (far away from home), which I know have just exacerbated this whole thing. I just find it difficult to relate to people (which I think is partly why this whole situation is so heartbreaking for me).
Thank you longingforfun. My heart aches for him continuously and I just wish this whole thing would just stop.
This is limerence - can you google it as I can't link on my phone? I've experienced it too, you're not alone and it will pass eventually.
I firmly believe limerance is for many people an anxiety disorder. Have you had counselling? Your University will be able to help get some.
A few things I would add, as someone who also experienced this at university (though for a friend):
You can get over this.
He is not the best person out there for you.
If you work on the anxiety you will, in time, come to understand that these feelings do not represent a deep love. Love feels different.
Imagine him taking a shit
Seriously though, this does sound like limerance. You need to take this man off the pedestal, it's not healthy, even if you did end up together such adoration isn't good for you. He is a human being and will have faults and annoying habits, just as we all do.
This thread is very long but stick with it - amongst it's pages you will find good advice and interesting stories from people who have been through what it sounds like you are suffering from.
Thank you for the responses, everyone. I have heard of limerence in passing before, and researching now, it definitely does seem to describe how I feel.
I do have counselling at my university (for other reasons other than this) and i'm on antidepressants. I haven't told my counsellor about my feelings for my lecturer, as even though I know it's confidential, my department is very small and I feel it would be obvious who I was talking about. I also have this acute sense of shame that I felt (and sometimes still can't help but feel) that well handsome, educated, travelled and cultured man could have ever loved a plain 21 year old, who is in all intents and purposes, still practically a child. I know counsellors are there not to judge, but I just don't think I can say it out loud. I do hope I will get over this and logically I know there are so many other people better suited for me out there, but it's just so hard to get myself to really believe it. I am just so desperately lonely and have been so since my late teens. His absolute dedication to his specialist subject fills me up with such admiration and i'm desperate to share it with him. The only time I feel any sense of happiness (albeit tinged with sadness) is in his presence. I'm so scared for the Christmas holidays, as I will not see him for 5 weeks. I've considered suicide and then I realise how pathetic it is, killing yourself over a man who you don't really know, who doesn't even think about you. But the pain is just too much and there is no other light in my life that I can concentrate on.
I know what I am feeling isn't true love (not that I can compare it to anything as I have never been in love!). I also think about how if we did magically come together, I would be probably disillusioned pretty fast and would potentially still be unhappy (just as you said Worzels, such adoration isn't healthy!). My brain knows that i'm putting him on a pedestal, but how ridiculous is it what we know is true and what we believe to be true, isn't always the same.
I'm sorry for being awfully depressing! I just need to get my feelings out.
And thanks for the link, Cheers! I will check it out.
Do tell your counsellor. That way you will protect yourself and him from any possible misunderstandings, you will have someone in real life to talk it through with and you might just find that saying it out loud goes a long way to bursting the bubble.
You know that your initial feelings are perfectly normal, it is no surprise that a lecturer on your chosen course has similar interests or has written things you can identify with. The surprise is that your brain has added a little twist to that interest and fuddled you a bit.
That you recognise that is a positive thing. Your counsellor will have met others in similar positions, they will be able to support you and help you unravel this.
I think you need to stop seeing yourself as "so young" and "a child".
You're an adult. You have educated yourself about limerence, you can rationally see the damaging outcomes if you acted on your feelings and you know that logically this will pass. Trust in your maturity.
OurBlanche I will try! I need to be brave. I think another reason why i'm so nervous to admit to my feelings is because I come from a household where I was taught 'sexual desire is bad' for many years, so to talk about myself as a sexual person with sexual and romantic desires is very very hard.
We have talked about our similar interests in the past (to do with the subject i've chosen, but outside of my chosen modules, if you get what I mean), and he has emailed extracts from his unpublished work that he's felt that I may be interested in. Of course, this has only just encouraged my feelings (obviously through no fault of his, he was just trying to be nice). I did send quite a rather long email back with my thoughts on the extracts, which I never got an answer to. I couldn't tell if he didn't feel the need to reply (as I hadn't asked any direct questions) or if he felt I was being too forward!
I'm making sure I know my boundaries. I'm shy anyway, but the last thing I would want to do is make him feel uncomfortable, as well as ruin a potential academic relationship.
xtracts, which I never got an answer to. I couldn't tell if he didn't feel the need to reply (as I hadn't asked any direct questions) or if he felt I was being too forward!
If he's half the person you think he is he will be policing his professional and personal boundaries.
So very true, RedMapleLeaf. I did feel like such a fool after I did it, even though I didn't say flirtatious or 'untoward'. I was, however, perhaps overly friendly. I think it was that moment when I knew I had to calm down and pull back.
**I didn't say anything flirtatious or 'untoward', rather.
I suppose it's not surprising you feel shame about being sexual but, well, I was going to say it's such a shame you feel shame!
Because, logically, it's no surprise you have become infatuated with one person - and it's no surprise it's him. So there nothing to be ashamed about. Compassion may be a more appropriate response to this situation - compassion for yourself. That you have been securely repressed from childhood, that have been lonely and longed for connection. And along he came... It is no wonder this has happened.
Be kind to yourself, it plumps up the emptiness, the 'not loved' you may feel at core and weights your base, making it more stable. Shame sucks all goodness, love, self-love and compassion away, making your base unstable. Shame really is a terrible waste of time, a dementor.
I used to be an academic and I've been on the other side of this...ill be honest, it's an uncomfortable situation to be in! Maybe more uncomfortable for a woman.. . I don't know...
Anyway, I found it a very difficult situation. A nice student, lovely lad, bright, very studious etc, but I became increasingly uncomfortable. He kept cornering me for example, and trying to engineer situations where we were alone together (I'm not saying you'd do this of course!)
In the end I had to report it to my line manager - despite the fact that I'd never encouraged him, and found the situation pretty disturbing, I think the episode tarnished my reputation somewhat, which I remain angry about to this day.
Your feelings are of course entirely valid but this man has a partner and a duty of care towards you. Please don't hurt yourself by pursuing him - if he did reciprocate, he'd be in breach of any number of moral rules and you'd run the risk of entering a relationship with a very odd power dynamic. You deserve better than that.
Thank you, everyone.
KaluzaKlein Interesting to here about it from the other side! May I asked what happened to your student after you reported the situation? Honestly, I respect him enough (and anyone enough!) not to put him in an uncomfortable situation like that. He's an extremely charming man and many of the women in my course talk about him with interest. Perhaps they don't feel the same intensity as me, although one can never be sure... I wouldn't be surprised if he has been in similar situations like you have described before.
I do actually need to speak to him during his office hours about my January coursework before the Christmas holidays. I do hope he doesn't think i'm merely trying to engineer a situation alone together! (Although he might realise the contrary when I pull out a notebook with a dozen coursework related questions on it...)
Also, i'm sorry that you feel your reputation was tarnished, obviously you have a right to feel comfortable in your workplace.
Nothing happened to my student but my reputation was damaged irreparably. I therefore hold only feelings of utter contempt towards him, because he damaged my reputation and was one of the reasons I left a job I loved that was my reason for living.
Ah yes, he had a list of questions ... contorted me in my office to ask them, I had to do the 'gosh let's walk and talk I'm in a hurry (to get to somewhere where other people are...)
Perhaps it's different because the sexes were reversed but I also knew a few male lecturers who did have liasons with female students. They got off Scot free of course, no damage to their reputations because everyone loves a charming tweedy academic Lothario.
I'm sorry I sound so bitter about this, but please see it from my point of view - a young man who I had no interest in beyond the normal care and concern I had for all my students developed an obsession so strong that despite my behaviour being impeccable i was damaged by it professionally
Confronted not contorted ... Bloody autocorrect
KaluzaKlein what an utter utter shame. And how unfair is it that a female academic has her reputation tarnished because of a male student's one-sided infatuation to the point that it ends her career, while male academics are renowned for their philandering! Grrrr! Makes me cross for you, and for women.
OP I think you need to start being more social with your peers. Are there any clubs or activities you could join in on to meet other students? I know it's tough for you while you're in the grips of this obsession, but it may become easier if you have a better social life. As pp have mentioned, this man can't (and shouldn't) reciprocate your feelings.
I'm not trying to make light of your feelings or what you're going through, but honestly I think you'll regret not having more fun at uni. Go out and enjoy yourself. You don't have to meet the love of your life, just make some good friends. You can do it. Don't be scared.
KaluzaKlein I am so very sorry all this happened to you I am also very sorry if my thread has brought up these terrible memories for you. I would loathe to hurt anyone in such a way. I agree with ARV1981 about how unfair it all is.
ARV You are right. I think i've left my depression fester to the point where I just dislike and get annoyed by everyone. I know there is nothing wrong with anyone, and it's entirely my fault, but i'm not sure how to get out of my mindset. I did go clubbing, which I hated (especially because I can't drink with my medication). I did go to a few club meetings, but haven't gone since (and I should really begin to make an effort to do so). I'm stuck in such a rut of being lonely, and refusing to do anything about it/being afraid to do anything about it. I do have society anxiety and am not a particularly gifted conversationalist, so I do fear that other people find me boring, forgettable and annoying. I don't wish to impose on anyone's lives.
Again, sorry for using Mumsnet as some kind of virtual therapist! I just think these are feelings which has built up for a long time.
OP, I wrote a long message and my computer shut down so sorry this time it will be shorter!
I just wanted to say that having crushes on teachers or academics, including real infatuation/limerence is normal, I am an academic and have had a few students extra-keen or with that gleam in their eye over the years and have also had a crush on a teacher myself.
KaluzaKlein I'm really sorry to hear about your experience, as mine has been nothing like that but then I have never had to involve the institution, I've always dealt with it by being my usual professional friendly self, but no more, so I don't seek out situations to spend more time or put more energy into students if I think they have a bit of a crush (I had a male student like this last year).
The thing is, fantasies are safer than reality and it sounds like you are pouring all your emotion and romantic feelings into this very safe situation- and this is meaning you can avoid actually having to have real relationships with real people.
I think this is an important stepping point though- you are working out what you like in a man, what you would be looking for in a partner and also that you are a sexual and romantic person yourself, which sounds like could be a shock for you given your upbringing.
I urge you to tell your counsellor and work it through with them, plus to do what the last poster suggested, and work with the counsellor to help you branch out into finding some friends at uni, perhaps through work experience or being in clubs rather than just launching yourself at someone if you are shy.
Unfortunately, in the past, many male lecturers have taken advantage of the normal and natural crushes that undergrads have on them and had relationships which were very unequal (if you think they are god-like and you are worthless)- often these women then feel very cross in later life that the lecturer didn't have good boundaries. Hopefully this one does, don't feel embarrassed, but do think about ways to pour all your emotions and your passion into appropriate places, such as your work, new friends and also into a relationship when the right man and time comes.
By clubs I didn't meant the clubbing scene, which can be fun but very superficial, I think you should look for situations where your personality and qualities can be used- what about volunteering? doing a hobby you never thought you would do (running, horseriding, climbing for beginners? what about pursuing your academic interest through placements/writing for UG magazines? what about a campaign group for something that interests you? or tutoring children?
There are lots of ways of being valuable in the world and also branching out and making social connections.
I think you are deliberately choosing men and situations (like clubbing) which won't suit you and justify to you why you are distanced and not like others. But there are plenty of people who don't like clubbing -why not try to connect with them in a more authentic way and go from there?
HP, I have had students with crushes before (there's one every year I'd say) and always managed to deal with it as you say, breezy and professional. This guy was something else though - I was genuinely worried he would physically try something and I felt I had to report it. It just felt like it was out of my ability to control. I followed all the reporting guidelines and I still ended up as the subject of rumour. I can't tell you how distressing it was, and how utterly furious I was too. I still think I was right to report. I've only ever reported twice - that one time and once when one of my male lab students was stalking a female lab student. I was horribly let down by HR and management both times. They didn't want to know but it got out through the grapevine.
Ah well.., op, I think you should take some steps to distract yourself. Student clubs are generally brilliant, I was a member of a few and I miss them sorely! Clubbing is not my thing either, but I did make great friends diving, rock climbing etc. Do something physical and social.
Having a social focus outside your course can be a lifesaver, it really can.
But please, try to squish your affections for this chap. It can't end well - if he persues you, it's a terrible dynamic and totally unprofessional, bordering on abusive, and if he's horrified by it you will be mortified, your academic work will suffer and his career could be negatively affected. It's just a nightmare waiting to happen.
I hope it all works out ok for you. Uni is a time of great personal change and growth - don't waste it on someone who won't do you any good
Join the discussion
Already registered? Log in with:
Please login first.