Midlife crushes

“Crush” sounds like a school kid, doesn’t it? Remember those feelings of infatuation, exemplified by your hanging out at the crushee’s locker or outside the gym as he left practice? Or perhaps you were like me, not-so-subtly keeping score for the team on which the object of your desire played.

In high school, I gave hand-knitted scarves to my unrequited loves. Most were never worn. I baked birthday cakes for my make-believe beaus. Once, the oven rack was tilted, so the cake baked lopsided. Discovering this while removing it from the oven, I crafted a creative fix — raising the lower end with donuts secreted underneath, hidden by frosting. The recipient never mentioned the unusual composition of the cake.

At this point in your life, this seems so, well, childish, right? Crushes are for the emotionally immature, aren’t they?

Well, no.

Crushes can happen at any age.

The dictionary defines crush as “a brief but intense infatuation for someone, especially someone unattainable or inappropriate.” So this feeling is for someone not likely to return your ardor.

For example, a few years ago I developed a crush on my happily married ophthalmologist. He’s tall, fit, cute (with a cleft in his chin!), smart, successful (after all, he’s a doctor!) and funny. What’s not to like? Oh, yeah, there’s that part about being married. Ugh. But that didn’t keep me from ensuring I always looked my best and giggling at his funny comments when in the exam chair. Or fantasizing about what if he wasn’t married.

There are low-level crushes and intense crushes. The former is what I have on my auto mechanic’s office manager. Do I obsess about this green-eyed, divorced, midlife cutie? No. But I make sure to put on makeup and stylish jeans whenever I take in my car for repair.

An intense crush is when you drive by his house on the weekend hoping to catch him outside or see if his car is in the driveway. Or you just happen to be in his office building when you know he’s going to lunch. Or you join his gym even though it’s miles out of your way and plant yourself there during his workout times. That’s akin to stalking.

The positives of crushes are they rekindle your feelings of aliveness and romantic possibility. The downsides include spending inordinate time and energy focusing on someone who is most likely never going to return your enthusiasm. You are setting yourself up for disappointment if not downright humiliation.

Luckily, my crushees have either ignored my desperately craving their attention, or have graciously accepted my overtures without encouraging me. Perhaps that’s part of why they earned my adoration — they embodied kindness.

Have you had midlife crushes? How did you get over obsessing on the unattainable? Or if you’ve been the object of someone else’s crush, how have you discouraged them graciously?


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14 responses to “Midlife crushes”

  1. Richard Avatar

    The worst thing about it, I know it is happening, and I fight it because I know what it is. A crush doesn’t just happen on an indifferent 3rd person. It can also happen with someone you are dating (love at first sight). Intellectually, I know it is not the type of love that makes long-term relationships. But, it is an overwhelming puppy love.

    What do you tell someone that you have fallen for? You know at 2 weeks, saying “I love you” is not really true. But “I like you” sounds very weak.

    They say the crush, puppy love, romantic love, can last up to 2 years. Only then can you really know of the person is a life time partner. That is a long time to wait.

  2. Anna Avatar

    Richard: What about saying “I am crazy about you!” I know it sounds a bit juvenile but if the shoe fits…..and you are right, a crush can happen over night with your new BF or GF even after a few dates. The bonus for us midlifers is that we can see it for what it is, go with the flow and enjoy the feelings without the ill-advised rush to Vegas to tie the knot after two weeks and then regretting the sudden decision.

  3. Karen Avatar

    I agree with DG–a crush can make you feel sooo alive! Especially if you’re the crush-ee.

    I few years ago while I was in the midst of my awful divorce from my philandering ex (and while it was all coming out about how many affairs etc he’d had, and for how long), I suddenly realized during a meeting that a (married) work colleague who I saw all the time was verrry uncomfortable when he looked at me. I looked straight back at him and he blushed beet red. He continued to flirt subtly in the days ahead and he still does a little, but also talks a lot about his family–he’s clearly not the type for an affair and neither am I, so I guess it was just a case of unspoken admiration. But it really gave me a boost and made me realize that I have a lot to offer a man, and that I should stop moping around feeling sorry for myself and start dating.

    And then there’s this other guy I had a crush on…….I finally got up the nerve to ask him to lunch. And the rest, as they say, is history!

  4. Mark Avatar

    When I was married I had I think two crushes on other women, but I never acted on them. I don’t think I even entertained much of a fantasy about them. Rather, it was more like I enjoyed seeing them.

    Post marriage every crush I’ve had has been with someone I’ve dated, so I haven’t had to deal with an unrequited crush. Maybe that’s an advantage of being a man — it’s easier for us to pursue the object of our admiration.

  5. Ronnie Ann Ryan - The Dating Coach Avatar

    When I was in my 20’s, I had a mad crush on a married guy at work. oooooh I can still call up the tingles thinking about Lou. He’d call my extension and whisper things to me. I was in deep and knew it had to come to an end. Even though nothing happened between us, I knew this wasn’t a good thing.

    Finally I decided to go on vacation for a week to get away from his irresistibly flirty ways. I promised myself that when I returned I would not succumb and did my best to steer clear. It worked! But I can tell you that while I lived the crush, I certainly felt vibrantly alive.

  6. Cathy Avatar

    Well Mark. I like your comments about the innocent marriage crushes and agree with you that maybe it is easier for men but maybe you are a bit smarter than others and these women (post marriage) were also single and available!

    Ronnie – I agree with your feeling of being vibrantly alive. I had one a few years ago on a work colleague and every time I was even within 100 metres of him I would go into a cold sweat – his last day before he left I dressed to kill. He never noticed but 6 months later I coincidentally wore the same outfit for the first time and met someone who I then saw for about 18 months!!

  7. […] love the Dating Goddess’s frankness and honesty in sharing her stories especially about knitting the scarves or baking […]

  8. Anderson Avatar

    I agree it can happen anytime…maybe even in the supermarket…where your’re shopping and just happen to get a glimpse of someone you really want to keep looking at!

  9. Arali Avatar

    I am so glad I came across this webpage! I have had to wade through a lot of bad advice and judgemental comments about midlife crushes and it a breath of fresh air to read something intelligent for a change! I am over forty and last summer I developed a crush on a man six years younger than myself. I had seen him around town and knew that he was married and had a young son but, at that time, it was nothing more than innocent curiosity over a new neighbor.

    That changed the moment I really laid eyes on him. I was at a community event and he was making eggs for the pancake breakfast we were having. Our eyes met and these intense feelings came over me like I’d never felt before. It was scary and I felt like someone had emptied a pail of cold water over my head! We made small talk about how I wanted my eggs prepared and he apologized for not having them ready and promised to bring them to me himself when they were.

    I sat down with my family and a moment later he quietly came up behind me and placed the plate in front of me. He apologized for the delay, I smiled, told him I was sure they would be wonderful, and that was that. All of this transpired in no more than five minutes but as we were getting ready to leave, I noticed he was stealing glances at me. I was beside myself. Here I was, a woman over 40–not really thinking I would ever turn the head of a younger man again, coming to terms with the fact that I was aging, and boom! It was an unbelievable high.

    Several months later I was working out at the gym and I noticed him come into the fitness room with street clothes on and pick up a towel. He was done with his workout so it made no sense for him to be there, but then I realized he was doing that to see if it was really me. I was a regular at that gym and for the next few months I saw him often. We never said very much to one another, but I always caught him staring. It was fun for a while, but then my feelings began to become too intense and I was scared to death that he would pick up on it. On top of that, I was running into him all over town! As I said before, we said very little to another except for polite formalities…but our body language spoke volumes. We talked a lot in the silence.

    After a few more months of that, we both started avoiding each other. I understood that we both were crushing and that if we weren’t careful, we could make some serious mistakes. I enjoyed the thrill of seeing him, hearing my heart pound when he walked into the room, wondering if I would run into him somewhere in town that day, hoping I would. He was beautiful, after all. Tall, fit, incredibly handsome, and into me! Who could not be flattered by that? But the fact was, I was beginning to feel guilty about it. My feelings were becoming very intense and I was afraid of losing control, and in the process, lose the things that meant the most to me. I felt like a bad person for having the crush and, very soon, it became a cross.

    Thankfully, he made the first move. I think he understood as well that we couldn’t continue to see each other. We began to avoid each other and one day, he was gone. I missed him terribly and four months later, I still do. To make matters worse I didn’t have the opportunity to put it behind me in private because my husband read my diary (my own stupid mistake for leaving it out) and learned about my crush. He was very angry and very hurt and threatened me with divorce. I was devastated. I was now having to deal with the loss of my crush and the possible loss of my husband, and I didn’t think I had the strength to deal with both.

    Thankfully, my husband realized that he had overreacted and later apologized, but I fear that he still has trust issues. I never would have cheated on him and the crush ended the way it should have, but I am still dealing with the residual of aftershocks. I love my husband and want to be married to him forever, but I miss my crush. It’s absolutely crazy, but no one ever said crushes make sense.

    I feel now as I have just gone through a breakup. I am trying to work out those feelings and not allow them to control me, but it’s very hard. I still obsess every once in a while, but it isn’t as bad as it was. I suppose time will heal what I have been through. This is the first time I have ever crushed on someone being married, but I hope it’s my last.

  10. Crushing Midlife Gal Avatar
    Crushing Midlife Gal

    So glad to see the page geared toward those of us “of a certain age” who are dealing with crushes. Seems I’ve had one crush after another ever since 3d grade and now here I am approaching 50 and STILL crushing! Supposedly I do this because I grew up without a father in the house but I think that’s a lot of psychobabble lol. Yeah, I’m crushing as we speak. On the surface, it looks like a green light situation as we’re both single and available. However, not only is this guy big-time out of my league, he’s also a member of the church I attend, and works for the same company I do in a management capacity…while I’m strictly rank and file. I don’t believe in fishing off the company pier and I can’t afford to quit my job in this economy, and I don’t want to leave my church either…so I figure I only have one choice here and that squelch this crush toute suite! However that’s easier said than done ,but I’m keeping a lid on it as best I can. I don’t think he knows..or maybe he does and is being a gentleman in order spare us both embarrassment? Who knows? All I know is I’m getting so tired of the endless crushing I’ve done in my life…all that oh he’s so nice, so it must-be-love stuff. I want something real but it doesn’t seem to be coming my way…and at nearly 50, I get scared that I’ll probably be alone and having unrequited crushes the rest of my life 🙁

  11. Jane Avatar

    It is so nice to read these comments! I am in my early forties and have been together with my husband for 17 years. Since we’ve been together, I’ve had a few crushes on other men but currently, I am dealing with the most intense one of all. I have an unbearable crush on a dad at my kids’ school who lives about 3 blocks from me. It is awful and sometimes I feel like I live for only the times when I drop off and pick up my kids from school. That isn’t true of course, but I would say it feels true sometimes. The irony is that this crush has motivated me to start working out again and I’ve lost 20 pounds in the last few months. I feel happier and sexier as a result of the exercise and weight loss, and so my marriage is happier. I haven’t breathed a word about this crush to anyone – not even my husband. It would make things uncomfortable for him and I really do love him. I don’t want to ever hurt him and I know I wouldn’t be unfaithful.

    But the buzz I get from the crush makes me feel alive! I talk to my crush sometimes and it is always light and non-flirty. However, I am beginning to sense that he can either tell I have a crush on him, or he has similar feelings because he has started to avoid me. Aside from occasional glances at me from across the yard while we wait for our kids, he pretty much ignores me now and only talks to me if I approach. After a lot of soul searching and pain, I have decided that this has to stop. I originally enjoyed the crush and all the motivation it has given me to be fit and healthy. But I don’t need it now to continue to be motivated. It is so awful to think I may have made a fool of myself with this crush that I have decided to stop talking, trying to get his attention, or even just looking his way. I’m trying to train my brain to think about the good times with my husband every time I start to think of the crush.

    I am just really happy to read that I am not the only married woman in her forties who crushes. Thank you everyone.

  12. Jeannine Avatar

    Mine is even worse. I am middle aged and have a crush on an 18 year old. He is a former student who I still tutor on occasion. I have not and will not ever, ever breathe a word about this crush to him or anyone, because it is so inappropriate. I am married and have grown kids. He has a girlfriend who is a lovely person. I try to not have the crush, but it is just there. We are actually friends and I act completely like the responsible adult around him, but it perks me up just to see him. I always dress nicely and put on makeup, but I also make sure we only meet at a non-questionable public place, always. The thing that maddens me about this crush is that I have been a good influence in his life, and have helped him in many ways become a more responsible person. The thought of ever actually doing something romantic with him sickens me because it would be such a betrayal and so wrong. And I know I never would do anything like that. So why does this stupid crush even exist? I wish I could just will it out of existence. Maybe there are just some people you connect on at some level, for whatever reason, even if it is something that cannot ever be acknowledged. I have had other crushes before, but they were always on men my own age, except for one work colleague who was about 15 years younger. But that guy actually had romantic designs on me – asked me out for drinks, which I turned down – and so I ignored the crush and it went away. But I can’t get this kid out of my mind. I try not to think about him or mention his name during the day to anyone. But it is tough. I have had students crush on me, but I always just ignored it and acted professional and friendly. I am still acting that way, but internally it’s something else. I guess it will fade in time. I keep in mind something I read, “Just because you have the thought does not mean you have to act on it.” I hope our friendship outlasts this stupid, wildly inappropriate crush. It is exhausting! Luckily he does not seem to have a crush on me. That would be truly awful.

  13. Maria Avatar

    Nearly age 54, long term divorcee of more than 25 years, and got hit with the thunderbolt…in CHURCH of all places! Mind the guy is also single, in my age range, straight, and is Mr. Textbook perfect Christian…but still I feel weird about this whole crush thing! I know doggone well if I noticed a great guy like that, so have virtually every other middle aged unmarried/unpartnered Christian single woman with a 3 state range and beyond. Sure he’s kind, he’s sweet and he paid especial attention, which for me is unusual cuz guy generally don’t even look twice at me as I am Black and overweight. It’s heady but still I felt ashamed for overreacting like that. Well, the saving grace is that he does live out of state so no way to act out craziness…thank Heavens.

  14. Frank B Avatar
    Frank B

    I’m 52 now and have been crushing on a coworker for several years. I was going through a breakup of an 11 year relationship 2 years ago and I invited her out for the night. We had dinner and saw a play. The date was awkward probably cause she knew my ex and we have socialized about a dozen times over the past year but she was not into “dating”.

    My crush on her is quite strong but I have not asked her out or contacted her for the past 8 months. We see each other at work and keep it friendly. Clearly my crush on her is a one way feeling. I date regularly but still secretly wish she would have more interest in knowing me. Oh well, I just have to move on.