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How to deal with an unwanted crush

Letting someone down doesn’t have to be painfully embarrassing, says Sarah Neish

by Psychologies

• Don’t joke about it Laughing it off may seem like an easy way to diffuse the situation, but it can be hurtful for the other person. ‘They’ve taken a risk in telling you how they feel,’ says relationship psychotherapist Paula Hall. ‘At the very least, acknowledge this, and explain how flattered you are.’ Sidestepping the situation will leave you both confused

• Avoid negotiations ‘Don’t feel obliged to give a detailed explanation of why you don’t want to get involved,’ says Hall. ‘It’s OK to tell them you don’t feel the same way, and leave it at that.’Saying you’re not looking for a relationship or need time to get over an ex may encourage an unwanted admirer to wait until you’re ‘ready’.

• Don’t take on guilt In a study of more than 200 cases of unrequited love conducted by Florida State University's Dr Roy Baumeister, stronger feelings of frustration and guilt were recorded by the object of the crush than by the amorous person. You’re not to blame for how they feel. Just as we can’t make someone love us, we can’t stop hurting someone when we don’t love them.

• Keep talking If you have regular contact with the other person, you don’t have to pretend nothing’s happened. ‘They’ve been honest about their feelings and you’re entitled to be honest about yours,’ says psychologist Dr Ceri Parsons. Your relationship may not get back to normal immediately, but if you want to preserve it, keep talking.