Ask Margot-Is My Crush Inappropriate?

One woman finds herself attracted to her minister. Should she let him know her feelings?

By Margot Carmichael Lester

ear Margot,
I recently joined a local church which I attended several months beforehand. I have a crush on the minister, who is divorced. I hesitated to join the church because of this crush. I am serious regarding my salvation and want my motives for joining to be pure. He has previously stated that he would rather pursue the woman of his choice.
We all develop crushes. It's natural.
How can I subtly let him know that I am interested in him?
– Mary at the well

Dear Mary,
I appreciate your delicate situation. It's tough when we're attracted to someone in a complicated role. But first, let's talk for a second about crushes. Crushes are usually based in fantasy. I, for instance, have a crush on Sean Connery. Since the Bond days, actually, I've had a crush. I'm never going to meet him, much less have a relationship with him. My friend Betty has a mad crush on chef Tony Bourdain. But she'd never date him in a million years (unless, of course, he was single and ringing her phone off the hook).

We all develop crushes. It's natural. And charismatic people like celebrities, preachers and sports stars are easy marks for our little cupid arrows. For that reason, crushes are not the stuff that lifelong love is usually made of. They're ephemeral by nature. But they're not actionable feelings.

So before you do anything beyond joining the guy's congregation, I suggest you make sure about your feelings. Are they giddy, crush-y feelings like you have about a singer, actor or other charismatic person? Or do they more closely mirror feelings you've had about real people you've dated? If the answer is the former, recognize the fantasy element at work. Continue to admire him from afar if you wish, but do not engage. Focus on finding a real love instead.

But if your feelings are more than a simple crush, read on. Let me tell you that there's a line in your letter that gives me pause: "He has previously stated that he would rather pursue the woman of his choice." Maybe it's just your choice of words, but something about this leads me to believe that you have expressed an interest in this man before and that he did not respond in the way you'd hoped. If that's the case, it will change my advice a bit. But since you're not here for me to ask, I'm going to give you two things to think about—apply as appropriate:

Show him you're interested.
Start doing small things that indicate interest. Hold his gaze a bit, then look away. Lean forward as he speaks to you. Use his first name occasionally while speaking. These are all subtle cues that you dig him. If you're feeling confident he's interested, too,
Start doing small things that indicate interest.
look for social settings where you can interact as people, not just as preacher and parishioner. You shouldn't feel as if you are pursuing him; the idea is to establish a rapport outside of church. For instance, if you have a social gathering at your home, add him to the guest list. Or if there's a group outing you think he'd enjoy, invite him along. This allows you to get to know him a little better in a different setting. If you still find him attractive, you can get bolder and ask him out. But keep it low-stakes. Ask him to meet you for coffee or tea. It's easy, harmless and can be brief if you decide it's too awkward or not a good idea. Or invite him to an author talk or art exhibit. These activities establish similar interests and aren't very "date-y."

Take the hint.
If, on the other hand, he's sending signals that he's not interested (perhaps a comment about his wanting to do the pursuing…), you're better off taking the hint than pressing the issue. Why? Pushy people aren't usually perceived as attractive to most people. It not only turns off the object of your unrequited affection, but it telegraphs to other men around you. They may well see you pursuing a guy who's not into you, and they write you off as unavailable and uninterested. And you'd be surprised how obvious your actions are to others, even if you feel you're being cool and covert.

So, if he isn't interested, move on with your own interests. Having a full life is one of the best ways to boost your confidence and meet people. Being fulfilled and happy is a powerful love elixir. That's not to say it'll turn your preacher's head in your direction, but it'll darn sure make it tough for other eligible bachelors in your community to ignore you. It's a win either way!

Margot Carmichael Lester is a freelance writer based in North Carolina. Send your faith-based dating questions to
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