Infatuation in My Forties: Was It a Midlife Crisis?

A woman walks through an autumn forestJust over three years ago I considered myself happily married and content to grow older gracefully. I was 46, working hard as a senior school teacher and raising two teenage girls. My husband, who is almost 10 years older than me, had been in poor health after an operation and had been off work for several months. Much of my life was about obligation—it was tedious and I was in a rut.

At the start of the academic year I was assigned, once a week, a 29-year-old trainee teacher. The first day I worked with him I thought what a nice young man he was and wished my daughters would meet someone like him one day. He had a gentle nature and such a non-confrontational approach to teaching that the students took to him immediately.

By week three I was hopelessly in love with him. We were relaxed with each other, could talk for hours and had such an intense connection. I could think of little else, day and night. I have never longed for someone, cried over someone, or been absolutely driven to distraction like I was with this man. I completely lost my perspective, and almost my sanity.

The thing is, unlikely as it may seem, he was obviously attracted to me. He paid me endless compliments, stared at me constantly in class, commented that my husband was lucky, described me to a colleague as ‘beautiful’ and ‘wondrous,’ blushed and stammered when we met around school and generally acted like someone with a teenage crush. The week of Valentine’s Day, he gave me a beautiful drawing of a heart that had obviously taken hours; another day, when I complimented him on his teaching, he responded with “There are just not enough superlatives in the world to describe how wonderful I think you are.” I was in heaven.

Against this barrage of affection I consistently maintained a ‘you’re very sweet but I’m happily married and far too old for you’ response. It was agony but I couldn’t show him how I felt. What held me back was my devotion to him—a relationship between us could never have worked and the one thing I wanted in the world more than him was for him to be happy. When he left after a year I was heartbroken and went for counseling to make sense of it all, which really helped in several ways: I could talk my obsession through in safety and realize how impossible it was, I was able to explore what was missing in my marriage at that time and try to identify the positives, but moreover, my counselor helped me to address problems at home and improve the relationship with my husband.

Three years on and things are completely different—this infatuation, or whatever it was, is all but forgotten and hardly seems real. My husband is mostly back to good health and we are much happier. I’m also doing more things for me—I’ve reduced my working hours and enjoy a more balanced life. And the young teacher? We have stayed in touch, but inevitably he has moved on. When we occasionally meet I can’t honestly understand what I saw in him.

A Cupid statue in a gardenKarina is a senior school teacher, now aged 49. She lives in England, is married and has two daughters—one at college, one at university. The episode that she recounted happened three years ago.

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  • Mel

    Mel

    November 16th, 2014 at 1:33 PM

    Don’t you think that the things that ere going on in other parts of your life probably played a pretty large role in how this infatuation impacted you? I mean, if everything had been going super smooth at home to begin with then you would have probably never felt this kind of attraction to him.

  • Joel

    Joel

    November 16th, 2014 at 8:38 PM

    you know sometimes we do things unintentionally.but you have to be commended for not having given in to the temptation of trying to start a relationship with him.it would have caused a lot of trouble to your marriage and of course would affect your daughters too.

    if you now look back and wonder what you saw in him then the decision you made then was the right one.it is definitely a confirmation.congratulations on having stayed away from something that could potentially damage a lot of things in your life.

  • Asheton

    Asheton

    November 17th, 2014 at 3:51 AM

    I strongly feel that it is sometimes things like this that happen to us out of the blue that can make us even more grateful for what it is that we actually already have. I know that this person had to go through counseling to try to make sense of what she felt and was feeling, but that probably also opened her eyes a great deal about who she was and how much she actually enjoyed the life that she already had. Things do not always make sense to us but I am a firm believer that things happen for a reason. So in this case maybe this person came into your life to show you once again what happiness really was and that once that person was out of your life that you still hold onto that feeling with the man who has already been a constant.

  • adrienne

    adrienne

    November 17th, 2014 at 10:33 AM

    It is possible that you were seeking out something that was missing, and now that you found that all over again you don’t need anything to take up that empty space for you

  • Simon

    Simon

    November 17th, 2014 at 3:59 PM

    Speaking from the male perspective I think that there are times when men engage in this sort of behavior and it certainly is all about feeling bad about getting older and trying in some way, usually in vain, to recapture some of our lost youth. I think that although the motivations are generally different between men and women, the end result is usually going to be the same with someone significant in our lives getting terribly wounded and hurt. I don’t think that there is any one of us who would actually set out to do that from the beginning but we sort of lose focus on the things that are the most important to us when we begin chasing after something like youth that was so fleeting and fickle.

  • Kel

    Kel

    November 18th, 2014 at 3:48 AM

    I think that we would all be lying if we said that we have never experienced something like this.
    I think that the big thing though is how you choose to handle it, do you choose to act on it or simply walk away from that infatuation?
    I think that those are the things that will tell you just how serious you are about it.

  • Rayne

    Rayne

    November 19th, 2014 at 3:52 AM

    you sometimes have to wonder had the situation been different would you have had those same kinds of intense feelings toward this person that you wound up having… different place, different time sort of thing. I suppose that in the end it doesn’t matter, this fulfilled something for you that was missing at the time, and when you found that you did not need this anymore, then thankfully you worked through that with a counselor and have found your way back into what I presume is a loving and caring relationship.

  • Mary E.

    Mary E.

    November 19th, 2014 at 11:37 AM

    I wonder if at any point in time when this was going on if your husband had any sort of inkling that you were so unhappy in the marriage.

  • rhetta

    rhetta

    November 22nd, 2014 at 2:38 PM

    A few years ago I found myself in this same sort of situation but with an older man, not younger. He was a professor that I had when I went back to school, he was single, I was unhappy, and let’s just say that my experience probably went a little further than what I initially intended.

    Anyway my husband found out about the affir and there was actually a time when I wondered if I would saty with him or if I would move on, but eventually I decided that discontent at one time in my life did not mean that I had to leave all of that behind forever. It just meant that there were things that we had to work on.

    Of course that meant that he had to be willing to forgive me for the affair and that is something that we are still working on today. I urge anyone in this situation to be careful, things can very easily get out of control very quickly.

  • Page

    Page

    January 20th, 2017 at 10:18 AM

    Thank you. It is refreshing to find this kind of advice, down to earth, and not about indulging in every impulse that comes your way.

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