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Dear Life Kit: I'm ashamed that I still dream about my middle school crush

Having a crush can be all-consuming. How do you snap out of it? Sex educator <a href="" link-data="{"link":{"attributes":[],"linkText":"Shan Boodram","target":"NEW","url":"","_id":"00000190-2bdd-d719-adb6-7bdfbd760000","_type":"ff658216-e70f-39d0-b660-bdfe57a5599a"},"_id":"00000190-2bdd-d719-adb6-7bdfbd760001","_type":"809caec9-30e2-3666-8b71-b32ddbffc288"}">Shan Boodram</a> has advice.
malerapaso/Getty Images; Collage by NPR


 Shan Boodram is the host of the Audioboom podcast<em> Lovers And Friends</em>, which covers sex, relationships and attachment.
Shan Boodram /
Shan Boodram is the host of the Audioboom podcast Lovers And Friends, which covers sex, relationships and attachment.

Dear Life Kit

is NPR’s advice column where we pose your most pressing questions to an expert. 

Need some really good advice? Look no further than Dear Life Kit. In each episode, we pose a few of your most pressing questions to an expert. Sex educator Shan Boodram, author of The Game of Desire, answers listener questions on crushes. These responses have been edited for length and clarity.

Dear Life Kit, I can't stop thinking about my middle school crush. I'm now in my 20s and I haven't seen this person since my family immigrated to the U.S. 10 years ago. I'm single, happy with my career and I’ve picked up new hobbies and friends. But just as soon as I think I moved on, I dream about him and all the feelings come back. I'm too ashamed to tell anyone, even my therapist. Help! — Can't stop crushing

I have crushes from 10 years ago that still exist in my brain. Those dreams are interesting every once in a while. Can't that be enough? If the answer is no and it is all torture and pain, why don't you reach back out?

Listen to the podcast episode: Dear Life Kit: I can't stop thinking about my crush

Root this in an ask that’s about your own development and progress, not about putting pressure on this to be something it can't. You might say: “Hey, I've been working on myself. I'm single. I'm happy. I'm at a great place in my life. But I'm really trying to understand my past in order to move forward. I never understood what happened between us. Are you down to have a conversation?”

A lot of time has passed, so you're crushing on the perception of this person from 10 years ago that may not actually align with reality. There's so much unknown about who that person is now, what this person is doing and what their priorities are. You have to collect a lot more information about this person. So reach out.

Dear Life Kit, I have a crush on a friend. I know it's reciprocated. We're often flirty. We communicate almost every day, and we've even hooked up a few times. The problem? He's already in a relationship. Part of me wants to advocate for something more. The other part wants to get over him. Why would I want to be with someone who's willing to cheat anyway? What should I do? — Friendly fire

Sister, you're cheating. You are being dishonest and you're conducting yourself in the kind of relationship dynamic that can severely damage everybody involved. I would put a hard stop to this.

I don't think “once a cheater, always a cheater.” But you have, for some reason, allowed yourself to create backchannels where this behavior is acceptable. You have to seal those doors shut. If you devote yourself to that labor, you can have a healthy dynamic going forward.

Bonus question

Dear Life Kit, I started dating someone about a month ago who seems like a great match. He's interesting, our values align and I find him attractive, but I'm having a visceral reaction to his messiness. His apartment is dusty, covered in cat hair and looks more like a recent college grad’s apartment than the home of someone decades into their career and entering their 40s. He also has bad table manners. I've had to ask him several times to please stop talking with his mouth full. I’ve tried to be polite and nonjudgmental, but now I'm feeling conflicted. Is this a sign of incompatibility? Do I ignore it? How do I bring this up in a kind way? — Love is messy

This is something that's important to you. Essentially, you’re saying: “You’ve got to start working on this. And if you want to learn, then we're compatible.”

This digital story was edited by Malaka Gharib. The visual editor is Beck Harlan. Listen to Life Kit on Apple Podcasts and Spotify, or sign up for our newsletter.

Copyright 2024 NPR

Andee Tagle
Andee Tagle (she/her) is a reporter-producer for NPR's Life Kit podcast.
Becky Harlan
Becky Harlan (she/her) is a visual and digital editor for NPR's Life Kit, which brings readers and listeners actionable advice on health, finances, relationships, parenting and more.