I’ve Fallen in Love with a Man I Can’t Have.

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Warning: Adult language ahead.

I have that “Mr. Right” feeling with someone who’s not available.

“Loving someone is not painful. It’s when we must stop loving someone and withdraw our affection that we feel pain.” ~ Barbara DeAngelis

I just had lunch with a man from a dating website. Yes, I’m back on a dating website. Please don’t judge me. Mostly I got back on a site because I need to be distracted—pleasantly and permanently.

Despite my best efforts (okay, so some of my efforts may have been half-assed. I am human. Because love is love, for fuck’s sake, and it feels sublime even when it’s also total agony, right?) to not allow my heart that liberty, I have fallen in love with a man I can’t have.

I didn’t try to fall in love with him; in fact, I felt that instant attraction thing upon meeting him months ago and tried to avoid falling in love with him. But it happened.

This feeds back into the perpetual argument I have with myself: Can one control one’s own heart? One can control one’s thoughts, but the heart?

The jury’s still out.

And, I’m pretty sure it’s time to stop whining about it, put on my big girl pants, saddle up and ride right on past him and the enticing speculations of what that would be like, into the next town over—called Distraction—quickly followed by a day-trip into the small village of Love (with someone else).

This necessary plan depresses me in its contemplation and my heart grows heavy, gray and sluggish at the injury of the thought. If I think about it too much, I start to lose my resolve.

I desire, though, to be so very carefully respectful—to everyone involved—including me.

I have good days and bad days with this situation. Sometimes I know what I have to do; other days I think about it too much and get sucked down by the undertow of emotions.

Most days, I feel like an idiot for somehow allowing this to happen.

I’m already suffering, but will remaining friends or cutting all contact lessen the suffering? Mostly, as you’ve probably noticed, I am on the proverbial fence about this.

I love him enough that I want him to be happy, even if it’s not with me. I love him enough that I feel it would be unfair and too disruptive of me to say anything to him about it. Does this make me brave or just chicken shit? Perhaps just pathetic. I’m not sure—nor does it matter.

This distraction plan may or may not work. I have tried it more than once before, and it has only been marginally successful. Some of my past attempts have inversely highlighted what/who I genuinely wanted instead of distracting me.

After one such attempt, I ended up sad and crying to my friend after a perfectly wonderful kiss goodnight from a really hot man, only because the kiss was not from the man I was wildly attracted to (read: soul mate material) and who said he was not ready for a relationship.

And then there was the big, costly (on all fronts) distraction of me getting married at 38 because I felt I was old and ugly and it might be my last chance for a relationship, to be happy and to not be alone.

Oh, I loved him—but I knew, on some level, that I was settling because I was afraid of being old and alone. I saw him and that marriage as my last chance for happiness, which is a theory I have since proven incorrect since our divorce years ago, but I truly did believe it at the time.

My lunch date was a nice man. He was masculine, directed and full of purpose—all of this was obvious to me, and I liked these things about him. He held the door for me, pulled out my chair; he was a gentleman. We had a very nice conversation.

I wasn’t attracted to him, but I didn’t let that stop me from appreciating him and our conversation.

So at the end of our lunch date, he asked if I would like to get together again sometime; I could tell he was thinking I would say no. But because I wanted to give him—a very decent, acceptable man—a chance, I quite honestly said yes.

And I meant it.

I said yes because I am tired of waiting for Mr. Right.

I am tired of my own ideas of who/what that should be (hint: some weird, interesting mix of Cullen Bohannon, Walt Longmire, David Deida and Tom Hanks, I think—like a good chocolate: hard and crunchy on the outside, soft and gooey and a little nutty on the inside once you bite ‘em).

I wanted to give a decent, nice man a try. I’m tired of being ruled by my heart, and/or my increasingly lonely lady parts. I want to make good decisions—with my head.

Which is in the opposite direction from the feminine energy I have been cultivating, by the way, as feminine energy is all about the heart, body and emotions.

I noticed as I began to pedal away from the restaurant that I felt extremely sad and kind of hopeless. So with a respectful nod in the direction of the Divine Feminine, my heart and all things emotional—and with no small amount of dread—I turned to face the emotions waiting their turn and told them to bring it.

I was on my bike, so I had plenty of time to suss it out, and the longer I pedaled, the sadder I became. But I stayed with it, sitting with myself the same way I would sit with a girlfriend in this state, and allowed each emotion to present its case.

After many layers had peeled off, I finally felt an intense, deep, aching loss at the thought of giving up what I really need and want in trade for a “safe bet” again.

Crying, pedaling down Mountain Avenue, I could feel the edge I need in a man to keep me interested and attracted, and the lunch man was just not close enough to that edge. He felt so far away from what I need and want.

I knew, though, that it had nothing to do with him. He was still a very nice man. However, it had everything to do with already being in love with someone who, if he’s not Mr. Right, is pretty god damned close.

How is it I can have that Mr. Right feeling with someone not available to me? Shouldn’t his lack of availability, recuse him on some big, cosmic level—take him out of consideration?

I’m thinking this should be a law or something—a Federal Statute. Or fuck that; let’s make it a Universal Law.

I think it’d make life much easier.




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Editor: Emily Bartran

Photo: Allen Skyy/Flickr

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Grace Cooley

Grace Cooley is a Certified Hypnotherapist and Registered Psychotherapist in Ft. Collins, CO, USA. She sees clients and facilitates Divine Feminine Hypnotherapy workshops for women. She’s a flaming, Earth-loving, tree-hugging, save-the-Planet, believes-in-faeries, bike-riding, card-carrying, spiritual-but-not-religious, hippie cowgirl liberal poet—yep, they do exist. You can find her blog here and her creations here. You can also connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

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anonymous Oct 14, 2015 9:00am

The same problem here. And it has been more than 2 years since I met him and felt in love with him. At the beggining he seemed like a very interesting person to me, there was something in him what attracted me, but it was like a light or something like that. And I just wanted to communicate with him, to share thoughts with him. I didn't think about what was going on inside me, I didn't analyze it or something like that. I just lived the moments and I did what I felt that was right. He was always so kind and nice to me, but I knew he had a girlfriend so I tried to distant myself from him. Nowadays, Im in relationship, but I can't forget him, it feels like he left some part of himself in my heart. I like my boyfriend, but I can't tell I love him. I even don't know if I will be able to love someone else than this man. I don't know what to do with this, I have tried almost everything but nothing worked for a longer period of time. It is like he left something in my heart, like he is living in me. the only thing that felt right was when I saw him again, it gave me so much energy and happiness – just seeing him.

anonymous Jun 12, 2015 1:36am

Ah. This was posted almost 10 months ago. How is it going Grace? As for me, I met *him* 3 years ago at work. I was married until March of this year. He has had a girlfriend the whole time. He is 11 years my junior. I have two young children. He was not around every day because of the nature of his role in the office. He barely knew I existed for the first year since we weren’t working closely together. We would pass each other as you do in an office and smile pleasantly, exchanging greetings, making small talk. He has the most beautiful smile I have ever seen. He is quiet, unassuming, reserved. His mentor in the office described him to me once as “a nice nerd”. (I had approached her for advice regarding what I felt was inappropriate attraction to him.) I am drawn to what I can only describe as a light within him. He is bright, funny, gentle, self-controlled and guileless. (I could go on, but there is not space.) At the one year mark, the office structure was changed, so I now found myself working directly with him whenever he was in. I agonized over this, thinking I should leave my job to avoid temptation since I was married. I decided leaving wasn’t a very good option due to the turmoil in my life that was tempered by the wonderful job I had. I worked hard at not letting my feelings show around him, but they grew every day. More to the point, my feelings grew despite all the hard work I put in to kill them. No, the heart cannot be controlled. There is no reasoning with it, there is no stern warning or dire threat that will dissuade it of its yearnings. I told my therapist that I felt my heart betrayed me. He just gazed at me with a look of befuddlement and said, “But it’s your own heart, how can you betray yourself?” Indeed. I have discussed my feelings for him with him twice. The first time was because of the way I couldn’t control the way my hands shook when in his presence and so it made reviewing documents with him challenging. The second time was in February of this year as a preface to my behavior possibly changing around him as the summer approached. You see, his role in the office has always only been a 3 year stint, so he will be leaving in July. Knowing he would soon be gone I knew would cause increasing levels of pain for me and difficulty being as friendly with him as I could be. I didn’t want him to think he had done something to offend me. He has both times been unabashed, gracious and kind. (Which only attracts me more.) He is obviously attracted to me, too. There have been moments of excruciating connection and chemistry that one or the other of us has had to break off. So, now there are only two and a half short weeks before he is gone and my heart is breaking. It is difficult to believe, from where I now stand, that I could ever find another man that embodies all the wonderful traits I have encountered in this man. Thank you for this post, Grace. I don’t feel quite so alone.

anonymous Feb 28, 2015 12:10am

ok here id my story. Recently I had fallen i love with the most nicest guy I ever had in my life.he cares for me and likes me. he is four years younger than me, but in appearance I happens to seem as the younger one.and we are totally different from each other. but we do make a good team when we are together. I'm so sensitive and he is a good listener. but the problem is I'm having a ling term relationship with this good guy. he loves me, I know that. But heart wants what it want. I'm deeply in love with this younger guy and I expressed my feelings to him yesterday. we are still working on it. When it comes to my current boyfriend he is not so emotional. he doesn't care about me. all he want is someone to get married to and have children with.I don't know what to do or whom to choose because that younger guy and me being together may be a huge problem in many ways. but i do love him like crazy. . 🙁

anonymous Feb 22, 2015 10:56am

This article is very detailed. My situation is a lot like this except the person I have grown to love (even though I have tried to control my feelings by telling myself not to fall) is with someone else. It really makes me feel stupid to have set myself up for failure but this feeling didn't stop when he told me he was with someone else. I literally can't stop loving him no matter what I do. I've stopped contacting him and told him to stay away from me and I am hurting so badly from all of this. He reached out to me and wanted to talk about why I felt this way and it's seems like he won't let up. I just don't know what to do to get over these feelings for him. He won't let me go either. 🙁

    anonymous Aug 9, 2015 5:34pm

    I’m having the same exact problem. I’ve tried not talking to him but he just found another way to talk to me. I wish I could stop, but I can’t. I want to tell him that it hurts that he’s with the other girl, but I dont know if I should.

anonymous Nov 9, 2014 5:32pm

this is written just for me, I’m sure. I wondered for a time if I’d gone a little crazy – believing that this guy was meant to be so much more – except I’m old enough to know those connections don’t happen very often, and was most certainly reciprocal. I’ve cut ties with the friendship, no contact, because my feelings weren’t lessening. Except the feelings are still just as strong, months after no contact. I have never held on before, it’s very uncomfortable and I’m not sure it’s sensible. He is seeing someone else, yet I know he’s not happy, and if we lived in the same country – I’m certain we would unfolded even further the most intense, strong connection ever felt by both of us. Where do you put the energy that is still there?

    anonymous Nov 26, 2014 4:19pm

    That is a great question! I spent my time trying to think of all the things I could that I DIDN'T like about him – so as to turn my thoughts around, maybe. It only kind of worked, though. I wish you luck and love, my dear. Yours is not an easy road. I wish you a soul mate that comes into your life, ready and available and who sweeps your heart off its feet. 🙂 Godspeed.

anonymous Sep 11, 2014 4:36am

….well so far so good, we are getting on great as friends despite our circumstances meaning a relationship is out of the question, but we are able to support each other in our lives and send each other good thoughts and smiles when needed, and for the meantime i am happy to remain alone….but not lonely! my mantra was 'please be gentle with me' and the recent full moon brought everything to fruition and calmed down my 'doomsday' feelings of anxiety about getting hurt and showed me that everything happens as it should and all will be well as long as i trust!

    anonymous Sep 11, 2014 5:55pm

    Woot! Go girl! LOVE it. thanks for coming back to share this. 🙂

anonymous Sep 3, 2014 10:02am

this article was perfect timing! dealing with this situation myself…..guess im going to focus on myself and whats right for me and trust that the universe will align and present me with the solution! x

    anonymous Sep 4, 2014 11:21am

    Wow, you go! Perfecto! Let us know how it works out, okay? Peace and blessings to you. 🙂

anonymous Aug 20, 2014 7:28pm

Divorced after 21 years. Fell for a guy who is 16 years younger than I am. Both of us very attracted to one another. Very good friends. Work together. Have so much in common. Really feel like he could be my soul mate. The age gap is our downfall. I look alot younger than 43. People always think im late 20s early 30s at most. He looks a lil older and is only 27. We just click. But privately because of the age difference. Hard for me to commit because id feel guilty. Just knowing the sacrefices hed make to be with me. No kids of his own, my kids are grown, adults now and me being older n him dealing w a senior at the prime of his life. I look younger tho im not a spring chicken. I feel as tho i would be stealing his youth. So I keep it as just friends with him now even tho we have been intimate in the past. No men that I meet have that edge he has. Just one look from him and im lost in those baby blues.. idk what to do heart says one thing and my head says another..

    anonymous Aug 22, 2014 4:18pm

    Trust your heart. And trust him. He is old enough to know what he wants and to know what he's in for. Don't let age stop you. If he's a soul mate, it will work as it needs to – as you planned for it to. You are taking on his side of responsibilities. Let him do that. Have a heart-to-heart with him and see where he stands. If he's willing, I say go for it! Then periodically (once a year?) have another sit-down with him and keep each apprised as to where you are. I know couples who do that anyway, even w/o the age thing. It's just a good thing to do in any relationship. I wish you luck! and love! Go girl! 🙂

anonymous Aug 20, 2014 10:45am

It's' a horrible place to be, it takes a huge amount of strength to over come this strong desire that is senseless. I deal with it every day and some days are better than others. It just drags on. I know there is a light at the end of the tunnel of hell. I never want to let my heart open for anything like this again. I know I have to allow it to open for my survival. I know there will be someone out there for me so I go on one day at a time. I'm okay today.

    anonymous Aug 20, 2014 3:30pm

    Love and blessings to you. I wish you well. I wish you love and happiness. I send my good juju to you for relief. May we all know peace. Pls do keep your heart's ability to open and love – we die inside when we don't – and that would be worse, I think.

anonymous Aug 20, 2014 6:28am

Oh I GET this one, wholeheartedly. Try working with him for six years. Try moving on when you are forced together everyday…yeah, not really happening. And yes, I have dated other men, he has not dated. He says he's broken and can't be with anyone. He may believe that, but he's just a typical commitment phobe. We have both considered changing jobs, but both of us hang on to our weird, twisted situation. Yep, I'm on the dating websites too, not even a hint of a spark. Alas, I'm doomed lol!

    anonymous Aug 20, 2014 11:30am

    Oh my dear, I wish you well with this. I am there too – do I move on? Do I stay and at least still get to see him? Yikes! Not easy! I wish you love and happiness – no matter where it comes from! And I can say, as this has happened to me more than once, that there is love and life after the focus/problem man – pls consider moving on – even if only in your heart of hearts, okay? I can tell you deserve a good, sweet lover that will commit just to you and your relationship. You are a sensitive, aware person, so I know you will attract that goodness to you. Godspeed.

anonymous Aug 19, 2014 8:13pm

I agree, being unavailable should recuse one from being soul mate material.

I am in a very similar situation. I recently parted ways (read: told him that we cannot have any contact with each other) with my soul mate, because there is always something wrong when our paths cross, and my heart just cannot stand it anymore. This last time our paths crossed, I was already with someone else, working on the happy love village. He's a great guy, and I do love him, but he seems to have that edge missing. When Mr. Never Right No Matter How Much I Want Him to Be contacted me, and said lovely things like I was always his light in the dark, I couldn't make it back to his side fast enough. I hurt many, including myself. But once again, it didn't go the way I thought. After weeks of conversation regarding what our relationship could look like, I finally told him that it would be best if we just ensure our paths stay forever uncrossed.

After that, the good man I left to chase one that will never be contacted me, and we're working things out. He was far more forgiving than I could say I would be, but he said that being angry wouldn't help our love, and I'm thankful for him. No, I don't have that spark that I feel with the one who is lost forever, and maybe I never will, but I think that a love where I'm comfortable, and I can be me, and he thinks I'm the best thing in the world is a fair compromise.

Love and light to you.

    anonymous Aug 20, 2014 11:23am

    Eeeee! My heart is breaking with yours – and also I can feel the relief at just getting past it and moving on. I wish you luck and love and happiness, my dear. Thank God for good men/people (your good man!). Godspeed. 🙂