Make It Stop: “I’m Married, But I Can’t Stop Thinking About My College BF”

I’m happily married, but I ran into my old college crush, “Jason,” at my 10th reunion and I can’t stop thinking about him. I have a fruitless, unhealthy obsession over TOTGA. You know, “the one-that-got-away.” Why? Why? Why? Please make it stop!

Ah, the forbidden fruit of a longtime crush. It’s so tempting to sink your teeth into its fleshy sweetness, right? Jason is a new toy still in the box, a creamy pint of Pistachio Pistachio ice cream untarnished by a spoon. He’s irresistible! Then you look at your husband and he just seems…fine.

But, Jason didn’t get away. You choose someone else for a reason. Remind yourself of those reasons at every opportunity, why your husband isn’t only a good partner, but the best partner for you. He’s reliable. He’s trustworthy. He’s a good person. Stuff like that.

Let’s be real for a minute. What’s the real cause of this obsession? Is it animal attraction? Maybe you’re going through a rough patch in work or life and escaping to Jason-land (where the drinks are free and the sex is fab) is too tempting to resist. Is it because you feel like something is lacking in your marriage that you think Jason could provide for you? Spontaneity? Passion? Are you running towards him or are you running away from something else?

Right now, Jason is uncomplicated. He’s a blank canvas to project your fantasies on. The reality is that you have no idea what being with Jason would be like. I mean, puppies look good in a window too, but the reality of owning a puppy is very different from cuddling one. You don’t have to smell Jason’s wicked tofu farts or have to put up with his annoying sister who always asks for money or his racist uncle spouting platitudes at Thanksgiving. You don’t see him at the end of the work day, when the most he can muster is a few grunts on the way to the fridge, so of course he looks amazing when you only see him at his best, cracking jokes at a reunion.

Yes, you two have a spark. Acknowledge the spark, marvel at it, but recognize it for what it is: an exciting moment suspended in its own universe.

If you truly want your fixation to stop, the first thing to do is to limit your access to Jason’s social media profiles. “Out of sight, out of mind,” is your best friend here. Unless you think seeing pictures of him will cure you of the obsession. Maybe he’s waving a confederate flag or doing a handstand by a keg. But if he’s hiking a trail or surfing or looking handsome relaxing at a barbecue, shut that shit down! It’ll just make it worse.

Next, realize that while you can’t help who you’re attracted to, you can choose what you do with that information. Take that energy you’d apply to daydreaming about Jason and invest it in appreciating your husband. Leave him little notes with doodles on them. Slip a chocolate bar in his laptop case. Be creative! It’s totally okay to respect the chemistry you have with Jason, but understand that relationships are strengthened with the small choices you make minute-to-minute. With that in mind, choose to be a wonderful wife.

Lastly, use this is an opportunity to kickstart the passion in your marriage. Turn your reality with your husband into your fantasy. You might always be attracted to Jason, but that’s all it can be. You made a commitment to your husband. Honor it with grace.

Make It Stop is a weekly column in which Anna Goldfarb — author of “Clearly, I Didn’t Think This Through” and the blogger behind the blog, Shmitten Kitten — tells you what’s up. Want a fresh take on a stinky dilemma? Email [email protected] with the subject “Make It Stop.” She’ll make it all better, or at least make you laugh. Girl Scout’s honor.