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Fictional Crushes Affecting Relationship

Posted: Sun Jan 19, 2020 11:04 pm
by wintersolstice
So, I've had lots of intense fictional crushes for about five years now. I've always used them as a coping mechanism as well as something to direct my teenage hormones towards because I never really had any meaningful relationship. It has been to the point I would call it an obsession. However, I have now been in a happy relationship for five months. I had a long period of being really into him, like the honeymoon phase, for about three or four of the months. He's incredibly sweet, generous, attractive, has a good family and pretty much everything you could think of that would make him almost the perfect boyfriend. He's been my first real boyfriend and we were each other's first kiss too. The only possible shortcoming is that he isn't necessarily my 'type', though I'm working on that because my type is relatively rare (alternative/bad boy/strong type).

The past month or so I've been having dreams of my fictional crushes and other boys that are my type of both dating them and struggling to choose between them and my current boyfriend (where the struggle is mostly because I don't want to hurt or leave my boyfriend after everything he's done for me so far and his sweetness). But as I question myself, I find that my fictional crushes are now almost frequently on my mind and intervening in my romantic thoughts. I think they're starting to affect my view on my relationship and I want to stop it before it does affect my relationship. I know this is unhealthy as those figures are clearly unattainable, but I'm not sure how to help myself. I really don't want to tell my boyfriend about it as it is a me problem and I would much prefer to deal with it myself, also since currently he's in a bit of a rough patch mentally.

I really don't know what to do or how to put up boundaries in my mind. I don't know if I even would because I am so heavily attached to these figures. I would really appreciate any help on trying to fix this obsession of mine. Thank you

Re: Fictional Crushes Affecting Relationship

Posted: Mon Jan 20, 2020 8:30 am
by Sam W
Hi Wintersolstice,

Can you say a little more about how your fictional crushes are intervening or interfering with your romantic thoughts about your boyfriend?

One thing that might be a good starting point is to remove the divide between "my type" and "not my type" in your mind. While many of us do have preferences, things we tend to find attractive or unattractive in a potential partner, as we move through our lives what we define as our type often encompasses more than we initially expected. You can read about why that is in more detail here: ... _and_types. But I think something that might help you is to start breaking down the sorting system in your head that puts the fictional crushes in the "my type" category and your boyfriend in the "not my type" category.

Re: Fictional Crushes Affecting Relationship

Posted: Mon Jan 20, 2020 10:53 am
by Gone.Sorry.
Hi, wintersolstice!

I agree with Sam W that they way you're categorizing your attraction could be helping to cause this split for you.

I may be totally off base here, but you mention that you have used these fictional crushes as a coping mechanism in the past. It might also help for you to explore these feelings now and break down what is causing you to cling so hard to these fictional crushes at the cost of pushing away your boyfriend right now.

It might be something as sad as an issue or one thing that is causing you unhappiness/doubt in your relationship with your boyfriend that you've been avoiding or that you care about him but not in a dating kind of way. Or it could be something like a fear of commitment, a fear of letting go of a coping mechanism you've used for years, or a general fear that even though things are good now they won't always be and your fictional crushes are just safer/protecting yourself from potential future hurt.

Breaking down why you're having trouble letting go of your fictional crushes and really being with your boyfriend might help you figure out what next steps you need to do in order to be able to let go and move forward with your boyfriend. Because you're right that if you don't want to let go of these crushes, at least to some extent, then you won't and things will continue as they are. Your next step after considering why this is coming up so often could be any number of things.
It might be a conversation with your boyfriend about how to improve an aspect of your relationship.
It might be a conversation with your boyfriend where you both honestly talk about where you see the relationship going/where you want it to go ("I just want to have fun and see what happens" is a perfectly acceptable answer).
It might be developing some different coping mechanisms so that you don't have to rely on fictional crushes.
It might be opening up and talking to friends about being nervous about things going bad in your relationship because you really care for your boyfriend and don't want that to happen.

Does that make sense?

Re: Fictional Crushes Affecting Relationship

Posted: Mon Jan 20, 2020 4:25 pm
by Kaizen
Something different stuck out to me than to horriblegoose and Sam. To me the 'type' thing might be a red herring or it might not: sometimes a type is just a common pattern of attraction, and sometimes it's a true need in a partner. (For example, a 'type' which has encompassed every crush I ever had is relaxed confidence, a certain degree of not worrying what people think. The only times I got involved with someone who didn't have that, who was anxious like me, we were both constantly worrying what the other thought and walking on eggshells and it was not great at all.)

What stuck out to me was that the recurring theme in your dreams is not wanting to break up with your boyfriend because I don't want to hurt or leave my boyfriend after everything he's done for me so far and his sweetness. That specific reason. So I wonder, do you feel at all like you have to stay with your boyfriend? If there's some of that going on in your head, maybe that's why the sudden influx of thoughts of being with [a fictional] someone else.

Re: Fictional Crushes Affecting Relationship

Posted: Tue Jan 21, 2020 12:38 pm
by Jacob
Echoing some of the folks abvove, especially Kaizen with this zinger:

So I wonder, do you feel at all like you have to stay with your boyfriend?

I don't know how happy or not you are spending time with your boyfriend specifically, but I honestly don't think there's anything wrong with preferring your imagination and fantasy more than or as much as time with or thoughts of a current partner!

You described it as unnatural, but honestly, your fantasies are an expression of your own thoughts, and having your own thoughts is probably the most natural thing. It's like enjoying your own company. I'd put these things in the same category: taking a walk; meditating; having your own fantasies.

Re: Fictional Crushes Affecting Relationship

Posted: Tue Jan 28, 2020 6:09 am
by wintersolstice
[I'm so sorry if this seems all over the place but I wrote it as I thought it and I hope it all makes sense]
Thank you all for giving me such good advice. I've been doing some thinking and have realised a few things, but still have no idea about others. I've realised my feelings for my boyfriend are dwindling slightly but I don't want them to at all. I don't know why they are considering everything is going good and he is almost perfect, but it seems as if something might be missing, or, more likely, there is something wrong with me. I know that's not a good phrase, but really there is no reason for me to suddenly stop liking him and this has been a pattern for me in the past. It's almost like I get 'bored' of them (no one else was ever this serious, considering this is my first real relationship) and they aren't attractive to me anymore like they're missing something vital. I don't even know what it is. Sometimes I wonder if I could ever stay attracted to a real person.

I have also realised again that I think my obsession with these fictional crushes is unhealthy. I know they're a coping mechanism, but I don't know why they're still here or why I can't let go of them, like horriblegoose suggested. I often go for a period of a couple months at a time (between 2 to around maybe 7 or 8) being detached from these crushes and being 'normal' before relapsing back into complete obsession with them, one in particular. But I have recently realised just how unhealthy it can be for me after another night of crying at the fact that they aren't real, never will be, and I'm living part of my life based on them. What I mean by living my life based on them is that I use them as motivation to do things e.g. exercise because if you lived in [character]'s world, you would need to be fit, study because you would be studying a lot there, that sort of thing. And I often have a night when I become obsessed again where I just cry because they aren't real and to me it's pathetic to live as if there was a slither of a chance that they were. In these nights, I also feel really self conscious because I'm not fit enough or motivated enough and so on.

I don't even know where to start to handle this problem. I don't know if I'm even willing to let them go because it's so sweet in the moment of having these characters. But, I also don't know what I'm going to do with my boyfriend. I know communication is important, but this is something I know I am not ready to do and I know he wouldn't handle it well or understand, so I don't want to talk to him about it until I am more comfortable. At the moment, I plan to just see how things go with my feelings because I don't want to break up with him, considering he's pretty much the perfect boyfriend and I would kick myself later if I did, but I don't know how to handle my current feelings.

I'm sorry this is so long, but I really don't know where else to turn. I have suddenly gotten so much more involved than I had thought and I'm now so confused and I feel broken. Nothing seems to work and I just want to figure it out. Thank you all so much for trying to help me, I appreciate it so so much.

Re: Fictional Crushes Affecting Relationship

Posted: Tue Jan 28, 2020 7:08 am
by Sam W
Hi wintersolstice,

I'm glad talking here is helping you clarify some things, even if they're tough things to think about.

With those feelings getting "bored" in a relationship, there is a known pattern where the first six months or so of a new relationship is full of this exciting, new energy. But as the relationship progresses, that initial shine and spark starts to dwindle, and the connection in the relationship can shift in a lot of different directions. In some cases, people find that without that new relationship energy, there isn't much that excites them about being in the relationship. In others, people find that there is still a lot that gets them excited even without that newness. With your current boyfriend, when you find yourself feeling bored, is that boredom attached to specific things (e.g you feel like you two don't have much to talk about, or things in common to do together)? Or is it more that the relationship just doesn't feel as exciting in general?

Since that idea of using the crushes as coping resonated with you, can you talk a little more about what things you tend to use them to cope with? You mentioned hormones (which I took to mean they've been a good outlet for when you're aroused and want something to fantasize about, but please correct me if that's wrong), but are there other times when you know you're more likely to turn to those crushes?

Re: Fictional Crushes Affecting Relationship

Posted: Tue Jan 28, 2020 11:46 am
by Gone.Sorry.
I think Sam W hit the nail on the head with relationships and how they can change over time.

I think the biggest thing I see in your post, wintersolstice, is the complete lack of compassion you seem to have for yourself. =(

You're not broken or wrong for not be attracted to people you were previously attracted to or for tuning out of a relationship after the "spark" or "honeymoon" phase or for not being attracted to someone who would be an otherwise good and healthy partner. People lose attraction all the time. People decide to end relationships that are good on paper but just don't personally do it for them all the time. People aren't attracted to someone who would be a good and healthy partner all the time. Attraction waxes and wanes. We're all interested in different things and various levels of commitment. It's okay for your attraction to wane and for you to end the relationship. (It's also okay to keep trying for a little while and see if you're still happy in the relationship.) But whatever decision you make, it should be the decision that you want to do and that will make you happy. Not the decision you think you should make because that's what a "normal" person would do. You are one of the people in this relationship. You get to decide for yourself what makes you happy. <3

I don't know how much you would relate to these experiences, but there's an asexual spectrum identity out there called "fictosexual", which means people who only experience sexual attraction towards fictional characters (or sometimes real people who are so far removed from your real life that a relationship would never happen). I just thought it might be of interest to you to know you're certainly not alone in feelings like these.

As well, the way you talk about yourself regarding your daydreaming is so harsh and unnecessary. No, crying yourself to sleep because your daydreams aren't real doesn't sound healthy or a great way to live, but that's a good reason to show yourself more compassion and kindness and patience instead of beating yourself up so much and calling yourself names. (I also don't think it's particularly bad to use your daydreams to encourage you to make good and healthy choices like exercising and studying, by the by.)

Have you heard of maladaptive daydreaming? It's a bit of a manner of compulsive daydreaming unhealthily used a coping mechanism that impacts one's life. I don't know that you specifically have maladaptive daydreaming, but I think the resources out there for maladaptive daydreams might be useful for you - as could their communities. I know there's an r/maladaptivedreaming on reddit with quite a bit of activity. It's got memes and jokes, but it also has resources about seeking counseling and how to otherwise manage maladaptive daydreaming so it's less impactful on your real life.

You sound really harsh on yourself, and I just don't think you need to be or should be. <3