‘I’m sure he doesn’t even remember me’

I'm still stuck on my crush from when I was 10. I am a 25-year-old woman, and although I've been in love and dating through the years – and I've now been with someone for three years – I can't get over this person and I'm sure he doesn't even remember me.

I met this boy when I played on a sports team when we were kids. During the practices, we spent a lot of time together. He was kind and sweet with me and used to cheer me up when I made a mistake. Time passed and eventually I left the team.

Many years later, thanks to a friend in common, we became Facebook friends, and this allowed me to get updated with his life. Several times I wanted to message him but I was too nervous to talk with him, even online. One day I was brave enough and wrote to him ... but he never replied.

I recently found out that now he lives in Europe and runs an organization that helps kids, which led me to believe he's the sweet and kind person I remember. I do not understand how can I be stuck on someone I only knew when I was young. Many times I've wanted to write to him again and ask if he remembers me. But with all the time that has passed and our lives being so different, it seems just too impossible.

Also, my actual relationship is kind of serious and I don't want to mess things up. What do you think of this situation? Do I need to get over him? Or Is the crush OK?

– Stuck on a Stranger

Crushes are OK. Fantasies are fine. But staying in the world of make-believe for too long can mess with what's right in front of you.

Three of four paragraphs of this letter are about a man you don't know. You've invented a great narrative for your old crush, but it's not real. You don't know what kind of adult he is. I mean, I'm sure he's lovely, but he's not anything like what you've imagined. (This is a bit like a celebrity crush, which we discussed last month.)

Your homework is to sit down and write some paragraphs about your romantic partner of three years. You say you're serious about him, but you never told us why. So ... why? Who is he? If you were dreaming of him, fantasizing, what would you think about? You don't want to mess this relationship up, which means there are many good things about it. It might be fun to fantasize about what kind of life you might have with him in the future. Can you try?

If you find that nothing can distract you from clicking on this other man's Facebook profile, and that he invades your thoughts more than once in a while, talk to a professional about what he might represent. Because it's not really about him.

– Meredith

Readers? How much fantasizing about a stranger is too much? When is it unhealthy?