Each and every one of us has surely experienced a crush that had nothing to do with the person’s actual characteristics. However, for some people living in a romantic fantasy world becomes an unhealthy pattern that continues long after the growing pains should be over.
It’s certainly a trait of the young and sensitive to develop crushes on people they barely know because of how they look like and the “feel” they get from them. As a teenager I used to constantly have an object of admiration about whom I’d spend hours fantasizing. Eventually the reality would always catch up with me. Sometimes I’d see the guy I “liked” with his girlfriend I didn’t know about, or even worse, I’d eventually talk to him and such conversation would teach me that the absent look in his eyes had more to do with his limited intellectual capacities rather than his deep inner life. It seems to be a privilege of youth to see more than there really is and to imagine things to be in reality how we want them to be. It may have to do with innocence, wild imagination and more pragmatically, the lack of choice. Some such teenagers grow out of their tendencies once they go to university or join the labour market. The often limited high school world opens up and they’re presented with numerous romantic possibilities which encourage them to stay out of their heads.
Sometimes, however, such tendencies are a sign of deeper issues such as low self-esteem, fear of intimacy and commitment. In such cases, those living in a fantasy world don’t want to deal with reality because they’re scared of truly being with someone. A fantasy is safe and even if it will never give them what they want (i.e. the love of their life) dreaming of it will let them stay in the imaginary world till the dream is crushed by reality. After that, instead of finding fault in their unhealthy pattern, they just find a new object to fantasize about.
I had a friend who in high school developed a crush on a famous artist just from watching him play piano a few times. She kept sending him letters and he agreed to meet her. She didn’t really knew what to say or do with the real person but once the awkward date was over, she continued to write to him even when he eventually told her to leave him alone. The guy couldn’t understand what she wanted from him. Of course, she didn’t know him at all but in her head she created a full image of him. She continued with the same romantic pattern for years after that, till eventually she realized she was wasting her time and things had to change. I was not much better and I kept my pattern throughout most of my university years, jumping from one crush to the other. I had some relationships in this period of my life but these were mostly long distance ones. In this pattern, I could still live in my imaginary world most of the time. Spending very limited time my partners wasn’t enough to see them for who they were, even though to keep up the fantasy was a bit more challenging in such scenarios. It helped that I always used to have an explanation ready for behaviours and utterances I didn’t like (he meant something else, someone else sent this message, he’s scared of showing his real feelings, etc.). Such an exercise long-term is truly exhausting!
The problem that appears later in life for those prone to choose fantasy over reality is lust. As teenagers we often innocently dream about someone and if they show us their sexual interest (or any other) we’re startled. As adults, however, we end up often trapped in a fantasy because of lust. The sexual experience we had (or are hoping to have) with a person blinds us to their actual characteristics even more than our imaginary wishful thinking. Young women who like to fantasise are perfect backpocket girls. They don’t need much to keep going – an SMS or a call from time to time and a date once a month will be enough for her to think that she has something going. The relationship will never develop, of course. She doesn’t really know the guy and the real relationship with him wouldn’t survive. The person suffers but at the same time she’s too scared of real intimacy and commitment to try to change anything.
If someone keeps living in their head as an adult they probably have a whole bag of issues enough to spend a fortune on years of therapy. However, the latter along with self study and work on oneself is the only way for a brighter future if you see these behaviours in yourself. Learning to appreciate first oneself for who you truly are is a first step of doing the same for others. The stakes are high as it’s impossible to have a healthy relationship with such unhealthy patterns. We can’t talk about a real relationship if we only see what we want to see and trying to mould the person to our vision of them. True partnership is about seeing the person as they are, with their disadvantages and loving them despite them.
Dear Rinsers, your turn! Have you ever had an unrealistic crush? Or maybe living in a fantasy world used to be your romantic pattern? Tell me all your secrets in the comments section.