How Do I Stop Fantasizing?

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Q. I keep thinking about a young man who made passes at me: Last summer, my family and I traveled with my son’s High School Baseball team for about 20 days total. Between family members, coaches, and players, out group was between 40 to 50 people. We ate most meals together, watched games, and even spent recreational time together. One of the coaches was 23 years old, going through a divorce, and had two young children (7 and 3). He was awesome with both of my boys (16 and 12). My younger son has some neurological problems (Tourettes and symptoms of Aspergers). However, my son would act like a “normal” kid with this coach. (Perhaps because he was a former pro baseball player and my son is an expert an that subject) My son also developed a caring relationship – perhaps for the first time – with the coaches son. It touched me to see the coach and my son talking or even dancing in the hallways (to see a giant man of mixed race sing “Down and Dirty” while dancing with a scrawny pale pipsqueak who is singing the parody “White and Nerdy” is hilarious). I felt very relaxed around coach (after all, he is one of the few people to accept my son – as a matter of fact, he seemed to relish in his company). I visited with coach a bit and gave him somewhat motherly advice such as staying in school and attending every football practice. I think I even began to fantasize about developing a friendship and taking our boys to the pool, etc, although even the thought of us being friends seemed a bit preposterous to me. One night, as I was bringing a meal to my youngest son after a “date” with my husband, coach and I stepped on an elevator together. He told me that he had a secret, then told me that he wanted to go out with me. I walked off the elevator and didn’t turn back as he urged me to stop and talk to him. He called soon after my husband left the room to visit with our eldest son. Coach asked me to meet him downstairs. I told him no twice, then hung up on him. He called twice later that night. My boys got to the phone before I did, so I didn’t speak to him again that weekend. I knew that he had been drinking, so I chalked it up to alcohol and loneliness. I mentioned it to my husband, who assumed that I had “misunderstood” the situation. A week later after several days of treating each other in a polite and rather distant manner, we were at an amusement park supervising the younger children. The others adults had decided to rest in the shade several hundred yard away. We did not talk or sit near each other for the hour and a half or so that we were there, but on the way back down to meet the others, he said that he still wanted to go out with me. I told him that it was so wrong for so many reasons. He wanted details, so I began to give them to him. He kept objecting to my reasons until I told him that I would feel terrible, at which point he said that he would not want me to feel terrible.

I thought that was the end of it, but just before my family left, he mouthed and pantomimed to me that he would call me and come over when my husband was gone. (He was friendly with my husband, and knew that he would soon be going out of town.) My younger son was with me, but I shook my head “no” to him. I was appalled. He did begin to call about once per week (I think). The ID was blocked and there were hang-ups when I was with my husband. I began to avoid answering the phone until I thought that he had stopped calling (it had been about 3 months) then I picked it up twice. The first time, he took me by surprise and I did have a few minutes of idle chit-chat with him, but quickly got off the phone. He did not ask me out or say anything racy. The final time he called, I took and deep breath and told him there was no reason to call. I was about to threaten to report him when he apologized and promised never to call again. He has kept that promise. I thought that I would stop thinking about him once he stopped calling me, but perhaps because the situation dragged on for months (and perhaps because he is much more attractive than I am – or perhaps because we don’t know each other well enough to know that we are really incompatible) I can’t stop thinking about him. I planned on starting counseling this next summer to work on my marriage (I wanted to get my finances in order first because I doubted that my marriage would survive) but the situation with coach made me start about 7 months ago instead. My marriage has improved, but I still have my fantasies about coach. Soon, I will be traveling with coach and the team again, so I would like this situation completely resolved.

A. Thank you for providing a lot of detail with your question but unfortunately, I am not clear what specific question is. I am not sure if you are asking about how to stop fantasizing about “coach” or something else. I was also unclear about if you were attracted to “coach” or if he was just a bother to you and you needed help getting rid of him. I will offer a general answer since I am not sure about what exactly you are asking.

Most everyone fantasizes. Studies show that it is very common and normal. People who are married have fantasies as do single people. As free thinkers, we are allowed to think about anything or anyone we want. Fantasizing and acting out a fantasy are very different things. Fantasy is far different from reality and what people fantasize about is often much more than they would actually do or find pleasure in doing.

Thinking about anything and whomever you want is fine as long as you can control your actions, your fantasies do not turn into an obsession, and you can decipher fantasy from reality. It would be inappropriate, of course, as a married woman to have an affair with “coach.” It seems as if you are wise enough to realize this and that is why you are in therapy.

I think you made the right move by starting therapy. As you said it has already helped your marriage. You did exactly what you should have done. Therapy is what I would have suggested had you not mentioned that you began going some months ago.

I would not recommend that you spend any time with coach, public or private. How can you resolve this situation? If your answer to coach is “no”, then you must find a much, much more powerful way to say no. Like “I’m married and do not ever bother me again or I will tell everyone exactly what you are like and what you are after.” No more phone calls about anything. If he has to talk about your son, he can talk to your husband. There is no more pretending that “nothing is going on.” Something is very definitely going on and you have altered your behavior and even begun early therapy to deal with what is “going on.”

I hope I have answered your question. But if not, and you would like a more nuanced answer please consider writing back in and asking a more direct question. Take care.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 16 Mar 2008

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2008). How Do I Stop Fantasizing?. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 18, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2008/03/16/how-do-i-stop-fantasizing/

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