How to Stop Obsessing Over a New Crush
By Callie Beusman
When you meet someone new who you really like and who intrigues you, the feeling can be intoxicating. You might find yourself thinking of them constantly, wondering what they’re like—or, more likely, projecting ideas of what they’re like—and imagining what will happen when you see each other next.
But it’s possible to overdo it, which can lead to heartbreak, or even prevent you from actually getting to know the person you’re interested in. Here’s how to stop obsessing over someone if you find yourself fantasizing about them a little too much.
Remember how obsession works, and why it’s unproductive
“When we’re obsessing over someone we don’t really know, we’re usually chasing after the mini ‘high’ we get from fantasizing about them,” explains Mollie Birney, a clinical life coach. Obsessing over a crush floods our brains with feel-good hormones, so it can be “a little addictive,” she says, and a hard habit to break.
However, over-indulging in fantasy is not so great for a number of reasons, and it can be helpful to remind yourself of that next time you start fixating on someone. When you constantly think about a crush in the early stages of a flirtation, you could be setting yourself up for disappointment. You may find yourself really hurt that the other person isn’t as emotionally invested as you, that they want something totally different than you, or that they’re nothing like you’d imagined. The more you think about someone, the more attached you’ll grow, sometimes without good reason. Ask yourself if you really want to be in that headspace!
Make a conscious effort to think about other things
“When you notice yourself obsessing, try to intentionally disconnect from the thoughts,” says Birney. She likens it to “retraining your brain”—it’s not something that you can accomplish overnight, but rather an intentional practice that becomes easier with time. The first step is being mindful of your tendency to fixate; the second is to steer your mind elsewhere when you feel it happening.
Consciously try to absorb yourself in other, healthier preoccupations: “Ask yourself what occupied your time before your obsession began,” suggests Dr. Lee Pierce, an assistant professor at SUNY Geneseo who teaches a course on interpersonal communication. “What did you spend your days thinking about? Try to think more of those things.” If that’s not working, ask yourself if there’s something exciting you have coming up: anything big happening at work? A personal project that you’re excited about? Or something you read recently that you found really thought-provoking? Start following that train of thought; it could take you away from your intrusive daydreams about a crush if you let it.
Keep yourself too busy to (over)think about them
If you’re having trouble quieting your brain, give it something else to do. “Seek out other social support and activities,” advises Kate Double, a psychotherapist specializing in relationships and sex therapy. “Get out in nature, do some exercise, or read a good book.” Pick up a new hobby, sign up for a class, make plans with your friends, or call up a family member to chat. Anything that takes focus, or is fun and distracting, will make it harder for you to dwell so intently on your crush. Keeping busy comes with another bonus: It’ll remind you how full and interesting your life is, even without this person occupying your thoughts.
Remember that reality is more rewarding than fantasy
Fantasy can be great, as long as you understand that it’s just that: something you’ve imagined, which you’re indulging in, and that may have absolutely no bearing on what’s actually happening in your connection with someone. Remind yourself that building a real relationship with your crush will likely look different than what you’re imagining—and in a good way! If you avoid getting totally swept up, you’ll be much better equipped to focus on the real person you’re getting to know, which will better allow your relationship to develop in a healthy, genuine way.