Schoolgirl feeling

Should I postpone my wedding if I'm still getting crushes on other men?

By Cary Tennis

Published May 27, 2004 7:03PM (EDT)

Dear Cary,

I'm graduating from college and my nice boy and I are thinking of getting married. My problem? I keep having crushes on non-boyfriend people. Like, bad-style schoolgirl crushes. At my age, most of the crush-worthy people I run into at school are married or otherwise attached, so there's small danger of a crush panning out into something else, but I think the issue really is that I have the crushes in the first place. I've had two bad ones in the year, and no, I haven't told either of them, or my nice boy.

Is the solution to just keep sucking it up and keep my mouth shut, or is there an easier way to approach this? Does the sucking it up get easier with time? How can I avoid giant crushes on people in the first place, or how else can I deal with it? Does the recurrence of such crushes indicate that I'm not mature enough yet to have a successful marriage? I'd like to think it doesn't, and the hypothetical wedding is at least a year off -- but yet I wonder, and wish for outside advice.

Nice boy and I have been dating long-distance for nearly two years, with lots of one-month visits when I'm off school and shorter ones in-between. We're moving in together at the end of the summer. I like him. A lot.

Not Engaged Yet

Dear Not Engaged Yet,

What might it mean to get married and still find that crushes swoop you up in their arms and threaten to carry you into unknown bedrooms? It might mean that no marriage can protect you from your own wishes. It might mean that many years later after the marriage was over you would shake your head in a sad, wise and wistful way and say to a friend in the laundromat somewhere in a town you never thought you'd live in that you got married too soon and you still had things to get out of your system. Maybe by that time you'd have three kids from a second or third marriage and so would she, and you'd worry that nugget of a mystery for the thousandth time, hoping maybe this time it would spit out an answer but all you could say was what you'd said a thousand times before, that you married the guy because you loved him at the time and you'd never been married before so what did you know? You'd get that wistful look in your eyes and repeat yourself: You still had some things to get out of your system.

And then you would load the dryer.

Or maybe where you come from you don't sit in laundromats, and the conversation would take place instead over a Junior League lunch or at a backyard barbecue. Point being, you're at that point in your life where you start making all the mistakes that really count, writing with your body the bittersweet narrative that years later you will tell with a sad, wise and wistful shake of your head.

We all write these tales, and we all shake our heads in a wise and wistful way, but we do not become wise and wistful until so much has happened that we cannot tell it all in one afternoon and so must content ourselves with a gesture -- if not a shake of the head then maybe a weary shrug or a puzzled laugh, but at any rate some kind of gesture that attempts to encompass the whole long dreary amazing tale.

For instance: What if you decide that since you're still having crushes you're not yet ready to get married, and you let him get away, and he becomes a Supreme Court justice or conquers Indonesia or captures Osama bin Laden? Then he becomes the one who got away and that's the story you tell with a wise and wistful shake of the head -- this time in a backyard filled with daisies, after a lunch of grilled ahi tuna and iced tea. Or maybe you tell the story in a deep martini haze because while you were waiting for the crushes to subside he knocked up a Raiders cheerleader who gave him a set of blond triplets and a case of frantic hopelessness. So you said fuck him and married a handsome top earner who had never read a book but could carry you halfway up the mountain in one hand but after the screaming you felt starved for a thought and you've been starving now for years, drinking goblets of gin in a bright, giant house that unlike your husband does have a brain of its own as well as a warranty clause.

"You never did stop having those crushes, did you?" your first love says to you when you run into him at the reunion. But who knew?

So why did you bother to try to wait them out and lose your first and only true love anyway?

And that's when you make that sad, wise and wistful shake of your head, and a wisp of gray falls from behind your ear, and you think at 38 that's a little early for gray, and then you remember that's how old your mom was, too, when she started dyeing.

You expected one day to meet a man who would make all the crushes disappear. But he never came along. Or maybe he did, but you didn't believe he could make the crushes disappear so you didn't take him up on his offer to take you with him to Mexico on a motorcycle and rub you down with a special oil he buys from a family who raises olives down there.

I could go on; I can imagine infinite futures. But let's arise from the reverie and say this: Stick with him but don't get married yet. If he asks you to get married, tell him you're not ready yet, that you still get crushes on people and you don't think it's smart for a girl to get married when she's still getting crushes on people. Maybe he'll wait for you. Stick with him if he'll stick with you. And if the crushes continue, maybe before getting married you should act on one and find out what it means. Maybe it will turn out the crushes mean nothing, that they're like the urge for ice cream or donuts. Or maybe it will turn out they mean everything.

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Cary Tennis

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