Stuck in a Fantasy World – When Your Relationship is Just in Your Head


Each and every one of us has surely experienced a crush that had nothing to do with the person’s actual characteristics. However, for some people living in a romantic fantasy world becomes an unhealthy pattern that continues long after the growing pains should be over.

It’s certainly a trait of the young and sensitive to develop crushes on people they barely know because of how they look like and the “feel” they get from them. As a teenager I used to constantly have an object of admiration about whom I’d spend hours fantasizing. Eventually the reality would always catch up with me. Sometimes I’d see the guy I “liked” with his girlfriend I didn’t know about, or even worse, I’d eventually talk to him and such conversation would teach me that the absent look in his eyes had more to do with his limited intellectual capacities rather than his deep inner life. It seems to be a privilege of youth to see more than there really is and to imagine things to be in reality how we want them to be. It may have to do with innocence, wild imagination and more pragmatically, the lack of choice. Some such teenagers grow out of their tendencies once they go to university or join the labour market. The often limited high school world opens up and they’re presented with numerous romantic possibilities which encourage them to stay out of their heads.

Sometimes, however, such tendencies are a sign of deeper issues such as low self-esteem, fear of intimacy and commitment. In such cases, those living in a fantasy world don’t want to deal with reality because they’re scared of truly being with someone. A fantasy is safe and even if it will never give them what they want (i.e. the love of their life) dreaming of it will let them stay in the imaginary world till the dream is crushed by reality. After that, instead of finding fault in their unhealthy pattern, they just find a new object to fantasize about.

I had a friend who in high school developed a crush on a famous artist just from watching him play piano a few times. She kept sending him letters and he agreed to meet her. She didn’t really knew what to say or do with the real person but once the awkward date was over, she continued to write to him even when he eventually told her to leave him alone. The guy couldn’t understand what she wanted from him. Of course, she didn’t know him at all but in her head she created a full image of him. She continued with the same romantic pattern for years after that, till eventually she realized she was wasting her time and things had to change. I was not much better and I kept my pattern throughout most of my university years, jumping from one crush to the other. I had some relationships in this period of my life but these were mostly long distance ones. In this pattern, I could still live in my imaginary world most of the time. Spending very limited time my partners wasn’t enough to see them for who they were, even though to keep up the fantasy was a bit more challenging in such scenarios. It helped that I always used to have an explanation ready for behaviours and utterances I didn’t like (he meant something else, someone else sent this message, he’s scared of showing his real feelings, etc.). Such an exercise long-term is truly exhausting!

The problem that appears later in life for those prone to choose fantasy over reality is lust. As teenagers we often innocently dream about someone and if they show us their sexual interest (or any other) we’re startled. As adults, however, we end up often trapped in a fantasy because of lust. The sexual experience we had (or are hoping to have) with a person blinds us to their actual characteristics even more than our imaginary wishful thinking. Young women who like to fantasise are perfect backpocket girls. They don’t need much to keep going – an SMS or a call from time to time and a date once a month will be enough for her to think that she has something going. The relationship will never develop, of course. She doesn’t really know the guy and the real relationship with him wouldn’t survive. The person suffers but at the same time she’s too scared of real intimacy and commitment to try to change anything.

If someone keeps living in their head as an adult they probably have a whole bag of issues enough to spend a fortune on years of therapy. However, the latter along with self study and work on oneself is the only way for a brighter future if you see these behaviours in yourself. Learning to appreciate first oneself for who you truly are is a first step of doing the same for others. The stakes are high as it’s impossible to have a healthy relationship with such unhealthy patterns. We can’t talk about a real relationship if we only see what we want to see and trying to mould the person to our vision of them. True partnership is about seeing the person as they are, with their disadvantages and loving them despite them.

Dear Rinsers, your turn! Have you ever had an unrealistic crush? Or maybe living in a fantasy world used to be your romantic pattern? Tell me all your secrets in the comments section.


  1. When i was schoolgirl, i fell in love in my best friend’s boyfriend. It was all in my mind and when i finally admitted him my love, he said he likes me as friend. I wanted to have illusion but i was not ready for relation then. It was kind of compensation when we are too busy or too immature to go into relation, and then we fall in love in someone who can’t love back.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your comment. They say we only accept the love we think we deserve. Before we can enter a healthy relationship we need to start loving ourselves. I actually had a similar story only that me and one of my closest friends were both into the same guy. Eventually they kissed at a party and they started dating (high school vibes ;)). I didn’t stop liking him of course but I never did anything to “steal him” or anything like that.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I have a crush on my high school science teacher. But then he did something that disappointed me and that squashed that fantasy, he got married! LOL! LOL! But once maturity sent in I needed a real relationship 😉

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I’ve had several crushes over the years. And I’ve never regretted any of them! I found them to be fun, silly, and not to be taken seriously at all. They always dissipate as time and circumstances always change us.

    I agree that some people can take attention to a level that is inappropriate, often mistaking friendly interest for more. That can be awkward. When you give someone attention, it doesn’t mean that you lust after them, it can be that you just genuinely like them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t think there’s anything wrong with crushes, especially when one is young, as long as we understand they’re crushes. The problem appears when we start to imagine that one person reciprocates when they’re just nice. As you say, it can be awkward. Also from the crush’s point of view, you’re not really into them but into whatehever version of them you have in your head.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I mean whatever you imagined them to be. When dealing with a crush we barely actually know the person. We usually just like the way they look or speak and we just imagine the rest, perceiving the person as an image we created that has little to do with reality.


  4. Ugh. An innocent crush is one thing, it’s actually quite sweet especially when you were a child. However, I knew this one chick who convinced herself she was in some sort of relationship with a guy just because he would talk to her once in a while and maybe smile sometimes too. Then one day the guy got a girlfriend and she lost it – telling everyone how he’d ‘cheated’ on her and even writing a looooong email to him telling him how much he’d hurt her. It was rather embarrassing to watch.

    That said, when one considers the prospects available and the horror stories we’ve all encountered ourselves you can’t blame a girl for taking the easy way out and resorting to living out a fictitious relationship.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, yes, what you’re talking about it’s when it becomes dangerous. Some people just lose touch with reality. I’m really not judging as I did it too. With some of my crushes I’d literally ignore the reality. One of the guys told me to “go f*** myself” and even that wasn’t enough for me. Of course, the person in my head would never ever say that which is why I think I was in denial.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. […] Easier said than done, you probably think. Sure, I know men can have very convincing excuses of why they can’t be with you or fully commit at the moment. Unfortunately, all these things are exactly that: excuses. If people want something they grab it with both hands. They may be scared, they may feel that it’s not the right moment or the circumstances are challenging but they just go for it anyway. Which is why, when a man tells you things about how amazing you are and how much he likes you but doesn’t make an effort to make things work between you two because “things are complicated”, you should walk away. He may like you a little bit, he may be sort of into you but he has already decided it’s not enough to make it happen. Sometimes he won’t even give you the excuses, but instead will keep telling you sweet things without making an actual effort to get closer to you. There was this guy in my life, for instance, who claimed to really REALLY like me. According to his words we were a perfect match. What does it mean, though, in the eyes of the reality in which 2 out of 3 times I actually saw him was at the parties I organized. Needless to say these are the perfect circumstances to full yourself you’re onto something real which will turn into a relationship. […]


  6. […] There’s this saying in Polish that translates into “When there’s no fish, a crab is a fish”. It applies perfectly here. Part of the reason why my female friends and I, as teenagers, would make something out of nothing was that we didn’t know many boys. We went to a predominantly female school and even if we increased our chances of meeting men by attending karate classes, after eliminating all the guys who were our fathers’ age and/or married, guys our age with girlfriends, the undatable ones and the crushes of our friends there still weren’t many men left! In other words, if you liked a boy and there were some chances that he would like you back, fantasising about him actually didn’t seem like a terrible idea. The difference between this situation and an adult woman describing to everyone a guy at the gym who smiles at her as dating potential, is massive. We had not much choice! Adult men and women have so many opportunities to meet other people in our modern world. There’s work, there’s social life, there are limitless activities no one will judge you for taking up on your own, clubs related to your hobbies, let alone online ways to make friends such as MeetUp or regular Internet dating. There’s honestly no excuse these days not to give oneself enough possibilities to stay cool as a cucumber till something is really happening (as opposed to: in our heads)! […]


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