love & romance

The F Train: What to do with old crushes now that I’m in a new relationship?

The F train is Brokelyn’s new advice column for all you sensual New Yorkers who, like the F train, often have schedule changes in how frequently you come, struggle to get into the station or suffer from any other number of delays and track work. Think of this like the MTA Twitter but instead of public transit info we answer sex queries – send yours to [email protected] and let us know what neighborhood you’re in so we can make a sex pun out of it.

Dear F Train,
How do I deal with long-lasting crushes/flirtations when I’m in a new relationship?
–Phlirty in Philly

I don’t think you are going to like what I am about to say. But this is kind of a problem. And the first thing you need to do is ask yourself why do you still have a long-lasting crush on someone while you are in a new relationship?

From an outside perspective it sounds like your new beau is just a placeholder while you are still pining for the real deal. And if that’s the case, break up, swallow your fears and ask your crush out. (If that situation is applicable, of course.) I don’t know much about your crush(es), maybe they are married, or engaged, or you have already asked them out and they politely told you that they are not interested. These are all boundaries that need to be respected and adhered to.

So let’s go back to you. Why? Why are you holding on to these feelings? And for how long? Our lives don’t play out like every classic rom com, there is a time when you just have to let go and move on. Your crush won’t be standing outside your window with a boom box anytime soon.

Human emotion is a fickle dick and we have all succumbed to crushes that were never fathomable yet, none the less become all consuming. I, for example, was in love with a guy in high school that was too cool for me, only to be given a second chance years later thanks to Facebook and entered a year-long textual relationship that I for sure thought was the real deal. After flying out to the Midwest to visit him, (willing to throw away a lot of my dreams for this boy), he quickly crushed me with a single text that ended it all not even 24 hours after being physically in his apartment a thousand miles away from my home. I wish I could say my feelings for him ended there. But thanks to Facebook and mutual friends, my crush and feelings only strengthened. It probably took a full year before I was able to walk away cleanly and never look back from a relationship that never fully came to fruition.

I surrounded myself with new friends, new boys, new sex, and yet everything brought me back to him. And this was even with defriending him on all social media and deleting his number. I had no contact with this guy. Yet I cried every day for months. Any new guy was just a penis to fill a void because I hoped sex could mend old wounds.

So what ended the pain? Time. New books. Day trips to new cities. (Philly is a quick train ride to Brooklyn, just FYI.) Dipping my toes into comedy. All the cliché shit you hear and read about dating and self-care. But what really made the difference was my personal mentality on the situation. I hadn’t ceased to exist without him. Even though he was the first guy I truly opened to, and I wasn’t rejected based on my quirks. The parts of me that attracted this guy were still alive and thriving. He was the first guy to tell me I could make a career out of being funny. He helped push me into a dream of stand-up with compliments and reassurance. And for that I will be forever grateful.

As much as I wanted to make a life with the first guy to see those amazing parts of me, I knew I had finally accepted myself without the idea of him (or any him). New boys would come and go, making me feel as special and alive as the first, while I began to know it’s only me that I need.

So that’s my advice to you: find what makes you feel so alive around these crushes – what did they do or say that keeps them so close to your heart? – and discover those feelings for yourself as yourself. You will not need these unreciprocated feelings once you experience what makes you you. It will bring you a whole new level of confidence and independence.

Don’t let yourself get stuck on someone solely because they made you feel special. Give yourself some time, some slack and some sex. If you are still feeling emotions for another while starting a new relationship, stop and ask yourself why. If you can’t answer the question, start back at square one and go back to the common denominator: you.

You can still date this person but make your intentions known immediately. There’s a whole industry based on hook-up culture, so why string along someone new if what you really need is a moment to get to know yourself?

The F Train

This post has been updated, originally published in 2017.

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