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Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues
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Past three years, I have had these romantic feelings woman I

Customer Question

For the past three years, I have had these romantic feelings for this young woman I went to high school with. I first met her in high school during my sophomore year, although, during my time in high school, I never really got the chance to get to talk to her and get to know her better. It seemed that one thing after another would crop up, sabotaging my chances to get to know her. In high school, it is very difficult to get someone you are interested in to notice you; after all, there are so many barriers (you have to be in the same classes (at least one) if you want to talk to them, you have to be sitting near them, you need to talk to them one on one without their friends distracting them, etc.). It didn't help that she, eventually, got a boyfriend, thus ending my chances of being with her for about a year during high school. As soon as she was single again, I didn't have a class with her and soon another boy was by her side. The other variable is that I have always been very introverted and reserved, which doesn't help when you really like a woman (those feelings of shyness are just exasperated). Many times, I wanted to approach her and tell her how I felt, but the timing never seemed right; I always ended up keeping my mouth shut. Three years have past and I still find myself thinking about her each day. It seems whenever I see other young woman that I feel even slightly interested in, I can't help but think about her and how I would rather be with her than anyone else. I am not really sure how to handle this situation. At times, I feel like I should just "let it go," but that is very difficult to do, especially when you have been interested in a young woman for such a long time and have never had a actually opportunity to get to know her. I am surprised that I have felt this way for so long; I feel somewhat embarrassed and pathetic for pining over this young woman for so long and basically suffering in silence. As I said, I really just want the opportunity to actually get to know her, but she goes to a different college than me and I don't really know how I would initiate contact with her in a proper way. While I am friends with her on Facebook, I am skeptical about contacting her that way, as it seems inappropriate. (She might find it bizarre that I am just contacting her seemingly out of the blue and I don't want to make her feel uncomfortable. I was shocked, however, that she invited me to her high school graduation party last summer, but I couldn't go because she was with another guy at the time and I certainly couldn't have talked to her about my feelings then). Anyway, I appreciate any advice on how to handle this situation; any feedback you can provide will be helpful. Thanks for taking time to read about my situation. Your thought and consideration in this matter is greatly appreciated.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Relationship
Expert:  Dr. Norman Brown replied 1 year ago.

Somebody locked this ahead of me but apparently didn't write anything. I too was too introvertedin high school to approach any girl I was thinking about. In college it was easier--but it really does take time for introverts to learn how to approach a girl--since the more you feel excited about a girl, the shyer you will also feel. It's a normal emotional effect, and it's one reason why so many young people use alcohol to disable their shyness-brakes so they can say something without overthinking it first.

I'd say your present situation isn't very good for being able to start something up, since the girl is apparently attractive and (perhaps more outgoingt/extraverted than you) to easily get herself a boyfriend whenever she's ready for one. If it's any consolation to you, there's good research that has found that relationships between an introverted boy and an extraverted girl are more difficult to make last than when when the boy is more outgoing than the girl. On the other side, introverted guys may get a later start with relationships than those that are more extraverted or more practiced at parties in approaching women with their shyness-brakes dissolved in alcohol.

One more issue is important here: It's a lot easier to keep a fantasy love affair going on in your mind (with the idealization of the woman that ALWAYS lasts until you've gotten to know each other for several months) than it is to get gradually close to a girl that doesn't have the years of "perfect shine" you've built up for the one that got away.

But I do have a suggestion for a "personal training project" you can engage in that would get you ready to start engaging women and getting close to them WITHOUT PUTTING THEM ON A PEDESTAL FIRST like a PRINCESS. 1. Pretend you are a romance novel writer. Start writing opening scenes for a couple that meets in some quirky, unusual, or quite normal way--like meeting in an aisle at Walmart, spilling a drink on her at a baeball game, meeting a girl in an online chat group, meeting at a "meetup group" for an interest or political cause. Write scene after scene--with some of the guys being pretty similar to yourself (as you think of yourself now) but others different.

2. A really good trick to use in a story, and then also to try out in a real situation is for the guy to follow his INTEREST or his HUMOR/FUNNYBONE instead of his erotic turnon--because if you just make a comment about something that's funny to you, or interesting to you in a situation (or ask a question about a kitchen product at Walmart) you won't get blocked by your snyness-braking system because you're not focused internally on your feeling turned on or blinded by her beauty. Relationships for women are more likely to begin with enjoyment and comfortable feelings than with erotic excitement (unless it's night and party-time with alcohol to set up the mating mood.

Expert:  Dr. Norman Brown replied 1 year ago.

If you write up a bunch of meeting-girl scenarios you can imagine, you are in effect practicing your own words and moves for some actual situations that could arise--and you're not staying stuck on one idealized girl as the ONLY one you'd want to try getting to be interested in you--since that's pretty difficult when you're at different colleges now. (Not impossible; but PREPARING yourself to open up conversations in various situations could lead you to forming your own plan for how to initiate one of those with this girl at a distance.

I got very little experience with dating even as a Freshman at a large university, and short 1-2month relationships started for me as a sophomore. It's quite normal for introverted boys to "carry a torch for a girl" that they don't dare to approach, and who often has different tastes in young-love attractions than they are hoping for.]

There are psychological methods, and "psychic influence" methods that can be used to slip into the girl's unconscious and try to bend her affections towards someone she has never even paid attention to before. I once had that DONE TO ME from a distance of 30 yards or so in an auditorium full of people, all total strangers in a city and university I'd never been to before. But it turned out badly. And it probably always will turn out badly: because it's unethical to use influence methods to bend another person's will to your own.

With that said, you could practice writing romantic drama-scenarios using your own situation and the girl you've idealized as your play-characters.

But if I were you, I'd prewrite a wider range of meet&greet scenarios, and then try out scenes with girls where you are now instead of trying to resurrectr something that's already 3 years old and is holding you back from responding with interest and energy to the opportunities where you are now.