I feel like a teenager

I'm married and won't cheat, but I keep thinking about a woman in my business school class.

By Cary Tennis
Published March 22, 2004 8:09PM (EST)

Dear Readers,

May I say just one thing before we're done with thongs?

Of course I may.

Thank you.

The idea of telling people what to wear makes me want to scream. That's all I wanted to say. The whole thing reeks. I hate dress codes and have since high school. So next time somebody wears something truly hideous, could we please just all have a good laugh about it?

I'll sit down now.

Dear Cary,

I'm a 28-year-old married male currently in business school in the Midwest. In school I met a woman and we became good friends. We also had the same professional interests and have taken a lot of the same classes together.

Over the past few quarters, I have felt a profound change in my feelings toward this woman. We have the same interests, likes and dislikes. I find her pretty, funny and just a lot of fun to be around. I have found myself thinking of her all the time. I can't shake it. I feel like a teenager again whenever I am around her, which isn't a bad thing.

As far as she is concerned, we are just friends. She knows I'm married and I never hid that. She has even met my wife at parties and school functions. Also, I would never cheat on my wife, so there is no concern about my being unfaithful.

It's not that I don't love my wife. I do, very much. When we first met, I realized that she was the woman I wanted to spend the rest of my life with, to be the mother of my children. When we are together, I am very happy. I didn't expect I would ever meet anyone who would throw me for a loop like this. At first I brushed it off as a crush, but the feelings have not subsided over the last eight months.

What am I to do? We have the same concentrations, so there is a great likelihood that we will be in the same classes again. I can certainly choose to be in other study groups. But since the school is a relatively small place and we have the same circle of friends, I will always see her around.

Should I just cut all contact with her, period? When we have the same class together, just don't speak to her? Since the summer is coming up, should I just wait until we go our separate ways for our summer internships and see if a summer's worth of distance cools my jets? I need help!

Married But (Not) Available

Dear Married,

You do need help, but it's mainly in learning to act with conscious dignity in the grip of powerful feelings. It may help you to realize that you're not at all alone in this: Some of us are always going to experience powerful, dramatic feelings which, if we acted on them, would bring destruction and unhappiness; not acting on them is the price we pay to live in society. Some lucky extroverts, well-raised, verbally quick, deft, witty and able to finely gauge the reactions of the crowd, can smoothly allude to such risky feelings in a light manner, telegraphing a hint of the fuller truth behind them while never raising an eyebrow. Others seem to darkly simmer, hinting of vast reserves of barely contained animus or lust. And some of us just can't really ever hide anything, so we don't really try; we inveterate tellers, we compulsive disclosers, we announce to the world: I'm feeling something! and I know that you know it because you can see it on my face, so here's what it is!

If you are really smitten, your wife may notice -- anyone who knows you intimately probably knows your look of arousal and desire and will recognize it when it is directed at someone else. So it's probably not a good idea for all of you to get in a hot tub. But even if you're not sure you can disguise your feelings, as long as you're confident you can control your actions I don't see why you should avoid her. These things happen. If she should realize you have a crush on her, no great harm is done. I would caution you that although you may feel that confessing to her would give you some relief, don't do it. It might lead somewhere you don't want to go. It also might hurt your future friendship, which you don't want to do. Being in business school, you want to cultivate as many friendships as possible and leave school with as little unpleasant baggage as possible, so that when your classmates become bank presidents, you can borrow their money.

So if at all possible, try to sublimate this crush into a kind of intense feeling of friendship and admiration for this woman. If you feel elevated and energetic in her presence, accept that animated feeling happily, as you would with a longtime friend from childhood. But if you think you may lose your head and grab her hand, drop back into yourself. Take a deep breath, remember an appointment, go splash some water on your face in the men's room.

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Cary Tennis

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