Q: I’m 47 and married to a lovely man, but I’ve developed a giddy schoolgirl crush on my female yoga teacher. How common is this — and will it pass?
I know how you feel. For years, the only thing that could drag me out of bed of a Saturday morning was the prospect of seeing my super-skinny, charismatic, ex-ballerina yoga teacher contort herself like a bendy toy. Though I frequently struggled with positions such as Downward Dog, she never made me feel inadequate. In fact, her gentle encouragement made me glad to be the one that needed the most help in the class.
Teachers and doctors, and other people in the caring professions, are used to being idolised by students and patients, and yoga teachers, personal trainers, masseurs and hairdressers make the perfect girl-crush for much the same reason.
Why do you think so many female celebrities fall for the men who primp, exercise or dress them? Therapists, beauticians and personal trainers are the people who nurture the healthy, modern, grown-up woman. They care about her well-being and give her the attention that she craves, but rarely receives in her day-to-day life.
And, inevitably, from time to time, she develops an infatuation for one of them. Fortunately for you, a crush on a female yoga teacher is easier to handle than a crush on a male one, because it is not complicated by an underlying sexual agenda.
For a woman, platonic idolatry is all the more delicious because the feelings that it triggers — butterflies, excitement, adrenalin, a sense of anticipation — are often indistinguishable from the first flutterings of romance. But, in the majority of cases, the potential confusion of infidelity is avoidable and the crush will not damage a primary relationship.
The ultimate goal of a girl-crush is friendship, but there is a downside. Friends don’t last forever: they get married, have kids and move away, or emigrate. And their absence creates a gap. At school, college and work, it is easy to meet people, but the older one gets the harder it is to make new friends.
Some people — ambitious people, usually — shamelessly pursue new acquaintances with the kind of determined zeal normally reserved for climbing Everest, but, for the rest of us, there is something creepy about trying to make friends in our 40s.
When you meet someone that you like, it is difficult to balance showing an interest and seeming desperate or needy. You like them and you want them to like you, but you can’t come out and say it, so it becomes a seduction.
It is no coincidence that the most popular TV shows of the last two decades have portrayed the ups and downs of tightly-knit groups of friends. Desperate Housewives, Friends, Cold Feet and This Life project an ideal of how our social lives should be, but real life rarely matches up. Despite most people being just a phone call or e-mail away, quality face time with friends tends to be scarce, because it is so difficult to share mutually convenient time.
Geographically dispersed families, the breakdown in traditional communities, and husbands who are understandably preoccupied with their roles as lovers, providers, parents and DIY experts, mean that women, like you and I, can only guarantee ourselves a little one-to-one personal time, attention and TLC by paying for it. And if it inadvertently gives us the warmies, that’s a bonus.
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