The heart tricks us when we least expect it, and then we find ourselves daydreaming about that old crush.
When I was fifteen years old, I had the biggest crush on one of my classmates at a writing workshop. He was a couple of years older than me, and when he read his poetry out loud, I became his number one fan, praising his texts, and idealizing him as the greatest poet of the century. I must confess I’d sometimes imagine he wrote his romantic verses for me, but I was too shy to be open about my feelings, so when he left the workshop, I was kind of sad, since I thought that was the end of any opportunity with him, so I just moved on with my life.
Then, some years later, when I was in college, I met him by chance, and after catching up for a while, I realized he had classes in the building next to where I was studying. After that moment, we started hanging out more, and the more we did, the more I realized that my feelings for him weren’t really gone. I had just swept them under the rug. Now –I thought– I wouldn’t allow my shy teenage self to let this opportunity go. So, I told him about my feelings, and surprise, surprise! We started dating… I’d love to say this story has a happy ending, but the end is pretty lame, to be honest. We just went on a few dates because the more I got to know him, the more I realized things wouldn’t work out between us. We had different plans in life, and he had certain ideas I disagree with, so we decided to end things in good terms.
This situation only proved something I’ve always believed: the heart is the greatest troll of them all. The reason why it’s so annoying is because it tells the truth, and you can’t trick it. So, even if your rational self is telling you not to feel something or makes you think you’re already over someone, your heart will prove you wrong. That’s why sometimes it can be shocking that years after not seeing your old crush, after having dated other people and being in relationships, you meet them and you realize you’re still the same awkward teenager that’s head over heels for them. Your head tells your heart, “Really? After all this time?,” and there’s nothing you can do to change it because you know the feelings are genuine. However, what you can actually do is to find out why you’re feeling that way, and see if there's something you can do about those feelings.
As much as your heart trolls you when you least expect it, it reveals things about yourself that your rational mind might be overlooking. So, when you find out you daydream about being in a relationship with a past crush, it can be due to different reasons. One of them, perhaps the most obvious one, is that annoying “what if” that messes with our minds, not only when it comes to love, but with life in general. When nothing happened with your crush or the relationship was cut short for any reason, you might start coming up with many possible scenarios of a long relationship with them, mostly based on the idea you had of that person. The best remedy for that is learning to let go and realize that, no matter which path you take in your life, you’re leaving behind many others, so there’s no point in worrying about the many paths you didn’t take. Or, as it happened to me, the “what if” disappears once you get to know the person and realize that maybe they weren’t that great.
This last point is related to another reason why we wish to reconnect with that crush: because they represent an idea that we yearn for. When you fall for someone, you only see the best of them, and if you suddenly meet them years later, the only reference you’ll have of them is that idealization that remained in your mind. Moreover, according to psychotherapist Lori Gottlieb in an article for The Cut, those ideals are a means through which we reconnect with some parts of ourselves we left in the past. It might be the thrill of being in a new relationship, the unconscious desire of having a rom-com happily ever after, or even the wish to leave adult responsibilities for a while and be your teenage self once more. These ideas can be especially tempting if you’re going through a bad moment, or if you’re bored by your routine.
The bad part of these idealizations is that they stop you from seeing the good things that might be happening around you. So, beyond making a move and going out with them to break your fantasy about them, the best thing you can do is think and ask yourself what that crush represents for you. Maybe you met them at a great moment of your life that you want to relive, or they embody something you’ve wanted to incorporate in your life, like an attitude, an activity, or a feeling. Once you realize what your crush represents, see what you can do to create a good change in your life, or solve those current problems that make you want to escape to the past.
Maybe you meet them once again, you hang out, go on a date, and actually find out that things do work for you. Great! That’s a possible scenario too, but the thing is that, if that were to happen, it’s because you got to know the person they’re now, not the one you idealized during your high school years. Don’t forget that they have gone through different processes, so most likely they’re no longer the person you met in the past. Maybe they’re even better, or they changed for worst. Only by living in the present you’ll be able to decide what’s best for you, and even better, you’ll be able to listen to your heart without falling for its fantasies or silencing it.
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Photos by Summer Rae