These two hearts were drawn together on the pavement near where I work; one with cobwebs, one without. They’re just a couple of children’s chalk drawings – yet, they’re also food for thought. And they remind me of another way of understanding the experience of infatuation.

When infatuation or unrequited attraction or a ‘crush’ is awakened within us, how much of that is actually really about the other person occupying our thoughts, and how much is perhaps saying something about the condition of our heart? Our life? The forgotten, un-used, cobwebbed parts of our passion?

There’s an old saying that these things are called ‘crushes’ because they hurt. And, aside from those moments of euphoria, they often do.

So is there also a way of taking some of the crush back out of infatuation? Of healing some of that hurt? And with it, perhaps, healing some of the stuff that might have invited the crush into your life in the first place?

Clearly, I’m not talking about love itself here. Just the unrequited stuff. The stuff that’s one-sided and unlikely ever to be returned. The stuff that appears out of nowhere, and ultimately returns from whence it came.

You know the story: you find yourself being drawn to someone, to thinking about them, wondering about them, maybe inventing conversations or scenarios with them in your mind. But the feeling isn’t mutual…

And maybe you don’t even ‘logically’ want to be with this person – maybe you already have a love in your life who you’re deeply connected to. Or maybe it feels like the dream would be ruined if it became real, because you know you don’t actually want this person as your partner. Or maybe you’re sick of being stuck in a pattern of falling for people who are somehow unavailable. And yet, with all the notions and chemicals of limerance flooding your system, thoughts of them keep intruding…

So perhaps it’s worth investigating what lies behind all those imaginings. Finding out what these storylines would actually bring into your life, if they were real. Stepping out of the fantasy for a moment, and seeing what that person represents for you.

For instance, from a more Jungian perspective, does this person connect to any “archetypes” for you? Could they represent a kind of symbol or stand-in for some under-developed parts of yourself that you might desire?

Are you attracted to particular qualities or talents or behaviours in them that maybe lie dormant or neglected in you?
(Which ones?)
And are there other ways you might be able to weave more of these qualities into your own life?

What else might this person, or even the crush itself, represent for you?
Perhaps simply a sense of desire.
Or nurturing.
A breaking of the rules.
A freedom or escape.
A wish to feel desirable or worthy in some way.
Does it offer you distraction from the everyday?
Or joy?
And what do you make of that?

As for that rollercoaster ride – the hope, the euphoria, often closely followed by the doubt and despair – could it simply be that it’s the idea of that passion that’s also captivating you? The experience of it, the aliveness of it, as much as the individual person you’re currently attributing it to? How could you evoke that passion, or reconnect to it, in other ways?

Perhaps most importantly, what are you not thinking about when you’re obsessing over this person? Is there some part of your life you’re overlooking? Something ignored. Something forgotten in the exchange of real life for fantasy.

If any of these ideas ring a bell for you, then how might you begin to invite some of these qualities back into your life in other ways? How might you begin to engage more passionately with your own life? To start to sweep the cobwebs from your heart?

And if that’s something you want to do, how could you be gentle with yourself in the process? For infatuations can often feel hard to undo.

After all, they’re providing such a seductive distraction, a sumptuous blindfold of sorts, which can stop you seeing more complex truths. So perhaps finding ways to be gentle with yourself could help if you’re thinking of removing that silken veil – or that silken web – and seeing what else might actually be behind it…

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Photo: Gabrielle Gawne-Kelnar

Gabrielle Gawne-Kelnar (Grad Dip Counselling & Psychotherapy) is a Sydney psychotherapist in private practice at One Life Counselling & Psychotherapy. Gabrielle also co-facilitates telephone support groups for people who are living with cancer, for their carers, and for people who have been bereaved through a cancer experience. She is the editor of a journal on counselling and psychotherapy and she provides regular therapeutic updates on facebook and Twitter @OneLifeTherapy.