Social Question

wundayatta's avatar

How can you deny how you feel about someone?

Asked by wundayatta (58663points) April 26th, 2011

In answer to a question about why anyone would want to “love” someone who didn’t love them back, @yankeetooter wrote, “you can’t always help who you are attracted to, or who you feel deeply for. That doesn’t mean that you act on such feelings if you know they are unavailable, but you still can’t help how you feel…and I at least am not always willing to give up on those feelings…a form of self-torment, no doubt.

Do you believe that once you have a feeling about someone, there is nothing you can do about it? You just have to bear it? If so, why do you believe your feelings are out of your control? Does this mean you do not have any responsibility for your feelings (while still being responsible for your actions)?

If you don’t believe that, and you do believe you have some control over your emotions, how do you exercise that control?

If you had a choice, would you prefer your feelings to control you, or to be able to control your feelings? Why?

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18 Answers

thorninmud's avatar

Emotions are difficult to control, but we do have control over where we direct our attention. One can choose not to dwell on a person for whom one has an attraction if it’s clear that this will only make one miserable. This isn’t the same thing as denial, or controlling the emotions. It’s recognizing the emotion, seeing it’s negative potential, and choosing not to nurture it with one’s attention.

yankeetooter's avatar

I feel honored to have my post reposted in someone else’s question.

yankeetooter's avatar

Of course there’s something I can do about it, to some extent. The question I posed is, what if you don’t want to give up on the situation, a form of denial maybe, but my heart is not ready to deal with giving up and not seeing the person any more…

wundayatta's avatar

@thorninmud Do you think there are some emotions that are too strong to direct your attention away from?

@yankeetooter My question is different. I’m interested in the overwhelmingness of feelings.

Blackberry's avatar

You can control the feelings, you just don’t really want to because it’s too hard.

lookingglassx3's avatar

I think we can control our feelings for people, but it’s all about our own choice. I think there is some level of control over who we’re attracted to. It’s up to us whether we dwell on the attraction or not. I think we can control it; if we know that someone isn’t available, or simply doesn’t return our feelings, we wouldn’t want to act on our feelings at the risk of getting hurt. We know we have feelings for them, but we choose not to act on them.

Denying how you feel about someone is convincing yourself that you’re not attracted to someone.

Personally, right now I’d prefer for my feelings to control me…I’ve been too scared to admit my feelings for someone before, and the part that hurt me most was that I didn’t say anything and I badly wanted to. I knew he wouldn’t have felt the same, but I wanted him to know anyway. I kept it secret for over a year. I’m over him now, but it’s taught me that in my case, maybe hinting that I like someone couldn’t cause completely disastrous results. To me, it would just be a relief to get the feelings off my chest.

yankeetooter's avatar

@wundayatta, my feelings are definitely out of my control. Once I develop strong feelings about someone, I do not have any control over those feelings. I do have control over how I act on those feelings, by not throwing myself at somebody, acting inappropriately, etc., just not over how I am affected emotionally. I guess if I had the choice, I would prefer that I had more control over my feelings, but that would change who I am as a person. I feel things very deeply…

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I think it’s all about recognizing feelings, letting them wash over you but not having them drown you. You can’t make anyone else have feelings for you and so you just have to give yourself time to numb the sharpness of the feelings you feel when you recognize it’s not reciprocated. I don’t think we ever really let go of some people in our hearts but that’s life.

Seaofclouds's avatar

I don’t think we can control the initial onset of a feeling/emotion, but once we recognize it, we can control how we react/respond to it and change it if we feel it is necessary.

john65pennington's avatar

There is a song that is very appropriate to answer this question.

Youtube. “Where Were You When I Was Falling In Love”.


nikipedia's avatar

I think we have some influence over our feelings, yes. This is something we talk about in my meditation class often. If you have a negative feeling, often your instinct is to avoid it, and it just kind of festers in you. But if you accept it, let it in, and feel it for a while, you might find that it starts to dissipate.

Positive feelings, like infatuation, though, I suspect we tend to indulge. The “hurts so good” kind of unrequited love is very powerful, and I believe rewarding in some ways. (I read a study a long time ago that showed that grief that lasts for a very long time activates reward pathways in the brain, probably because it allows you to continue thinking about the loved one, even though you’re grieving.) So even though a forbidden love scenario might feel painful on its surface, there’s also some pleasure hidden inside it. And I think this encourages us to keep fantasizing and dwelling on it, making it harder for the feelings to abate.

Conversely, though, one guy in my meditation class said of his last girlfriend: “I made a decision to love her. I didn’t just fall in love with her; I decided one day, ‘I am going to love her. And it worked. Three years later, I’m still in love with her. Only she’s not my girlfriend anymore.”

So, yeah, I do think you can control your feelings to a certain extent. Probably some more than others.

janbb's avatar

@yankeetooter I’m kind of with you on this and it does create some picklish situations. I have a lot of trouble overcoming a strong attraction to someone even if I am not acting on it. The intensity of the feeling is a pleasure/pain.

yankeetooter's avatar

Yes, most of the time, even when missing him, there is a sweet poignancy to everything…It doesn’t help either, that just when I’ve convinced myself that there’s nothing there, something else will happen…another encounter, a brief conversation, a shared smile…

picante's avatar

Another soul sister here. I can intellectually overcome a good portion of this (and certainly control my actions), but I’ll be damned if I can turn down the volume on the feelings. It overtakes me at the oddest moments. Time/distance, as always, will dull this. I hope. Janbb, I agree with your observation about the pleasure/pain. It hurts so good!

janbb's avatar

Shall we do a little song and dance a la The Supremes?

john65pennington's avatar

On this earth, all of us have a part to play. It’s called acting.

When it comes to feelings one person has for another, this is where out acting role comes in.

You know it, they know it, but sometimes a one-sided love affair is just that…

What to do? Hollywood would be proud of some of the acting most of us do in our lifetime, when the right one comes and along, yet we are taken.

sliceswiththings's avatar

I was madly in love with Ben in high school. He turned me down. To cope, I tried to convince myself that I liked Matt. It was weird, since Matt wasn’t really my type, but it sort of worked, I started thinking about Ben much less.
But then Matt, who came to prom with me, made out with my best friend on prom night :(

creative1's avatar

You can’t help who you like but sometimes it isn’t meant to be and the feeling aren’t the same on the other side. So sometimes you need to let yourself, or give yourself permission to move on and let yourself see the reality of the situation. But usually this works best when you have made your intentions clear to the other person and find out how the other person feels about you. If you never know then the unknown will always be in your mind and you will have a very hard time moving on at least I would. But I guess thats whey the call a crush a crush because it can crush you if you let it.

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