Run the World (Girls), my power song from Queen Bey, blares from my headphones as I walk purposefully towards the south London café where I’m destined to have a conversation I’ve quite impressively avoided for two years.
I’m here to meet my latest infatuation.
For those who haven’t explored infatuations before, let me give you my six steps to infatuation:
- Someone catches your eye.
- Your crush on them grows. Every time you see that person, your heartbeat goes crazy, you blush, can’t act normal etc.
- You feel ashamed and embarrassed by your own reaction.
- You avoid them so as to not have that reaction.
- Since your avoidance means you don’t know them, you create an idea of them which matches whatever dream man is in your head. And then you fantastise: conversations, weddings, babies and Brangelina power-coupling.
- You are now in an infatuation: a mega, debilitating, secret crush on someone who doesn’t exist. You made them up. And you’re stuck. You can’t say how you feel (for the shame) and you can’t get rid of it (because you’ve invested).
Now, I don’t think having a crush is harmful at all. It’s fun. But when does a crush become an infatuation, which is unhealthy, heavy and damaging?
For me, it happens when my feelings for them grow disproportionately, or even inversely, to the growth of my relationship with the other person. A healthy, good old-fashioned crush means that as you get to know them, your level of feelings reflect that, either heightening or reducing.
But an infatuation takes its own journey. It grows despite complete lack of evidence of suitability, eligibility or even availability. For me at least, I’ve historically had a special place in my heart for the most avoidant of men; men who make themselves unavailable to me – and so an infatuative fantasy can build in place of real relationship.
Zoom back two decades to 12-year old me. And there’s 14-year old, let’s call him, John. John was my first target infatuation. Something about his blonde curtains, baggy trousers and, of course, the ultra-cool fact he was two years older than me had drawn me into a crush on this family friend. (Moment of silence for my poor parents who supplied my first three boyfriends through their best friend’s sons. Awkward.)
Unfortunately, my crush on John grew. For three long years. It became nothing short of an obsession. The idea of John became what I dreamed of and hoped for. I could imagine no one else but him for our happy life together. He of course was completely unaware of these plans. Until one day. One day my waiting held out and I ‘won’ him. (My ‘waiting’ did involve several bouts of dodgy home hair dye, a contact lens acquisition and learning to use make-up). Miraculously, he suddenly noticed me! He asked me out.
It was a short-lived bliss. Within a month I realised that John wasn’t quite the white-horse-riding prince who would sweep me off my feet and make everything ok. In fact, I wasn’t even sure we got on very well at all. At two months I was edging out, and by four months it was over. Reality hit the dream in an explosive way – and reality won.
But the problem was, while John was gone, my model of romance remained. The idea that unrequited love would lead to happiness. And at the tender age of 12 my heart learned a terrible, terrible lesson. If I hide who I am, then I will get what I want.
So I started to embrace infatuation in my life. And following John there were six further men for whom I experienced years of unrequited, hidden passion– sometimes we dated, but mostly we didn’t. Always, I never told them about it, and never gave words to the feelings in my heart. And that’s what led to the issue. Keeping it a secret, I thought, made me stronger. Don’t be vulnerable. Don’t show how I feel and I will one day get my reward – either the crush will go away (or more likely, be replaced), or, he will fall madly in love with me, rom-com style.
Well, I started to realise that my secret feelings weren’t going anywhere soon. In fact, they were getting worse. Stronger. More destructive to the good things in my life. I felt trapped by my own shame, discontentment and embarrassment.
And in the midst of this, as always, I turned to God. My journals had always been full of ‘take it away’ prayers, fasting, counselling, SOZO’s. You name it, I did it. I wanted OUT. But I think God wanted a bigger breakthrough for me than the feelings to just fade.
And so one Thursday evening, I felt God speak to me.
He said I need to tell the truth.
Sound familiar, that whole the-truth-will-set-you-free thing? I knew I had to. I knew I had to face my infatuation, and the fear of being rejected in that process, and I had to face it for good.
So today, that’s what I’m about to do. I don’t know what’s going to happen. I don’t know how he’ll react. But I need to let him know.
This is the first post in a two-post series on infatuations. What do you think? Have you experienced anything similar? Let us know in the comments.