Ask Amy Amy Dickinson, Ask Amy

Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.

DEAR AMY: I am married to a wonderful, kind and attractive man, but I recently started obsessing over a woman that I see at my gym. I hate myself for having intimate thoughts about her, but I can’t seem to get her off my mind. I’ve had sexual relationships with women before, but I’ve never had an emotionally intimate relationship with a woman, and I find myself fantasizing about this woman more than just sexually. She doesn’t even know me, and I don’t even know if she’s interested in women, so nothing has really “sparked” between us. I feel like I’m going crazy. I would never do anything to jeopardize my marriage, but I want to stop obsessing over this woman that I am so strongly attracted to. Please help me erase this fantasy from my mind. I am very much in love with my husband and still attracted to him, so I don’t know why this is happening to me. — Obsessed with a Fantasy

DEAR OBSESSED: I love doughnuts. I’m talking l-o-v-e, here. But my rational mind has decided that I should not have doughnuts, at least for now. I exercised my ability to make a choice that would ultimately benefit me, and so I decided to change my commute so that I no longer pass Dunkin’ Donuts on the way to work. After about a week, no more doughnut lust (at least for now).

It’s time for you to change gyms. Removing this regular visual trigger should help you to recover from your obsession. This does nothing to deal with the deeper issues that seem to be arising for you, but easing the pheromonal tension you are feeling should help you to clear your head.

If you have had sexual relationships with women in the past, surely it’s not unusual to have sexual fantasies about a woman now. This is nothing you should hate yourself for. Most of the time, these fantasies are benign, but when they start disrupting your life and relationships, it means you have some work to do.

If you remove yourself from this woman’s orbit but find that you are still obsessed with her (or become obsessed with someone else), you should talk this through with a therapist.

DEAR AMY: I’m an older attractive single woman. I’m in very good shape for my age. I’m recently out of a long-term (unmarried) relationship. I met someone; it was love at first sight for both of us. I was still with my partner at this time (although he had already told me he was moving out). The new man and I emailed each other continually during this time. We also hooked up a couple of times before my partner had moved out (my partner had found someone new). Now that my partner is gone, New Guy and I have been seeing each other on a regular basis. My problem is he has a live-in girlfriend of 20 years. He told me about her midway through the emailing stage of our relationship. I nearly ended it then but didn’t. They have an open relationship. She knows about me and encourages him to do what makes him happy. I don’t share this type of relationship philosophy. I would rather be with someone who does not have a girlfriend already. I know he’s not going to leave her for me. I don’t want to live with someone at this time; I just got out of that type of relationship. But I do want someone special in my life. He says not to try to make things work but to let them work, and not to stress over things you can’t control, including him. His job is No. 1; his girlfriend No. 2; fitness No. 3; and I’m No. 4 on his list of priorities. As long as I don’t “rock the boat,” we have wonderful times together, but it’s not enough for me. Should I end it? — Number Four

DEAR FOUR: There’s a reason championship teams don’t yell “We’re No. 4!”

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And, nothing against the number four, but it denotes standing worthy only of a participation trophy. Don’t you deserve at least a bronze medal?

So, yes, obviously you should end it. New Guy’s no-stress philosophy notwithstanding, you should end this relationship while you still have a shred of self-esteem and a chance of going for the gold.

DEAR AMY: I was horrified by the letter from “Puzzled” concerning a “white elephant” party where live baby chicks were traded as a joke gift. This is animal abuse, pure and simple. — Horrified

DEAR HORRIFIED: I agree.