How to deal with falling for someone you shouldn’t

Realising you like someone who is ‘out of reach’ can be really hard to accept, but there are some simple steps to help you move on

Keep away
When you like someone, you just want to be near them; it’s basic common sense. Normally, common sense is a good thing, but in this case; not so much. In keeping with the ‘you’ve got to be cruel to be kind’ school of thought, if there is someone you really fancy but you know you can never date, do everything you can to keep out of their way. This can be hard if the object of your desire is integrated in your daily life, but there are still ways to avoid them: if it’s your workmate, you might still see them around the office, but duck out of Friday evening drinks for a while; if it’s a friend’s partner, avoid smaller gatherings with them and only say yes to bigger group outings; if it’s a housemate, keep yourself busy and out of the house by starting a new hobby. It’s not going to be easy, but remember the old adage that out of sight does, eventually, mean out of mind.

See their faults
If forgetting this forbidden person is too impossible, why not do the opposite and really focus on them instead. It might sound strange, but bear with it. If you sit down with a friend/piece of paper and start listing all their annoying habits – or what you may end up finding annoying if you actually started dating – you might be surprised how quickly their perfect sheen wears off. Because from a distance, it is very easy to believe someone is perfect; but when you get a bit closer to the truth, they’re probably very far from it.

See their qualities
This ‘negative’ hunting might not pay off when you’re in the throes of a true crush, but don’t despair, you can still enjoy the benefits of a list. Write down all the good things you like about this person. It’s likely that these pros will include a medley of funny, good-looking, clever, kind, generous, ambitious etc etc. All very admirable qualities – but not very exclusive ones. The next time you are out in a bar, or at a party, or browsing through online dating, have a look around and remember that while your crush has many great character traits – so do many other people.

Date someone else
Going on a date ‘just for the sake of it’ is not the nicest idea for you, or for them. Sometimes though, it is necessary, and when you’re trying to forget your feelings for someone else is one of those occasions. Because while you might feel there is no one you want but this person, you might be pleasantly surprised with how much you actually enjoy a date with someone else. They don’t have to be ‘the One’ – though of course, they might be… – but just getting ‘back in the game’ is a great way to have an ego-boost, a nice evening out, and a reminder that there are plenty more fish in the sea.

Talk to someone
If you know that admitting your feelings for someone would lead to endless upset and trouble, it can feel like you’re carrying a huge dirty secret around, and that you’re somehow a ‘bad’ person. Please don’t think that way, because you have done nothing wrong other than fall for someone – someone you have already accepted you probably can’t have. To ease your guilt, tell a good and non-judgmental friend how you’re feeling. Sharing your ‘secret’ will be a massive weight off your shoulders, and without that dark cloud looming over you, you should be able to clearly see how you can move on.

Talk to them
If you really can’t contain your feelings for someone ‘out of reach’, and liking them is making you life unbearable, then bite the bullet and tell them. Not to see if they feel the same way – if they are with someone else, or there’s a no-colleague dating rule or whatever the obstacle is – their feelings are almost irrelevant. But if you open up to them, you can at least ask them to amend their behaviour – tell them you don’t want them to contact you as regularly as they have been, and you don’t want them to tell you all about the troubles they might be having with their partner. If you clearly let them know you don’t want to play this game anymore, you might end up winning the battle.