My crushes and the feeling of being in love last pretty long for me (read: three months to a year), and there was just this one that lasted for barely a week.
But before I bury the experience into the deepest recesses of my psyche, where it is only allowed to manifest in my most disturbed dreams, I would just like to breathe a bit more life into it, so as I can share what I have learned in that brief moment.
If you have been around my blogs since I started in 2004, you would know how I go through roller coaster rides in terms of crushes: from fleeting attraction, to “I’m really happy to be sharing the same space as you do”, to “I just LOVE that we’re talking to each other!”, to “SIGH I wish you were mine! Look at me writing poetry and posting sappy song lyrics in my blog!”. While my level of crush intensity is pretty standard, the reasons behind my getting a crush, and reacting to it has evolved as I grew older.
For the record, I will only be talking about real people crushes here. Fictional crushes have a category on their own, and they don’t give me much woe anyway. 😛
It has been a popular psychological theory that a straight female’s template for male attraction is her father. For the longest time, I had a hard time believing that. My Dad was often out in field work when I was growing up, so if I had any standard when it came to men, it was my either my uncle (my Dad’s youngest brother), or my brother.
I remember a silly little thought when I was… around three years old, maybe — that I will be with my brother for ever and ever, just like how Mom and Dad was. Funny how simple a child’s mind works, right? I mean, I suppose I see my Mom and Dad being affectionate, and I equated that to the same kind of togetherness and affection that my sibling and I shared so, it made sense! Of course, growing up and learning happened (thank goodness!) and none of us are pulling Jaime-Cersei stunts.
So my next crushes all throughout grade school happened: all were fair-skinned boys with round cheeks, short black hair, eyes shaped like mine, and whose smiles remind me of my uncle’s or my brother’s. I realized that I was easily attracted to boys because I was in an all-girls’ school. My attraction, therefore, for all intents and purposes, was purely based on the physical, and looking for that sense of visual familiarity and security.
Then one guy came along during our stay in France, and he was the first who was very far from the physical mold. He was from Canada, with light brown hair and green eyes; really tall, with light freckles. There were other more attractive guys in my class towards whom all girls flock to, but he caught my eye. I suppose I did find him cute, but what attracted me most about him was that we had shared interests. He didn’t care that he attracted a bit of teasing because he liked Sailor Moon like I did, or that we’d rather hang out with the ‘nerds’ and get the school paper together. He didn’t mind that I was this socially awkward Filipina and he asked me to dance at a party (thus, he was my first dance) and he patiently taught me how to ice skate while holding my hands. Also! He knew how to make tea.
… I should’ve married this guy, damn XD;; Then again, we were in 7th grade, so: NO. Back then, I was convinced that I was in love with him, and that I will never love another guy. I even wrote him a letter when I had to go and change schools confessing how I felt. We talked over the phone a few months later, and learned that he burned the letter — I was actually glad he did, since I wanted to take it back.
What I learned from that experience was that I can be attracted to someone because of their character. I also learned that boys can certainly be nice and like you in a platonic and friendly manner, and not behave like chimpanzees 24/7.
My crushes in high school were crushes just because I felt like having crushes. It’s a high school thing. If you didn’t have a crush, then your high school life isn’t complete, and you’re not in. I picked the most unpopular guys, told anyone who asked who my crush was, just so I can see them squirm and to spread kilig. I gave different answers so, by the end of the school year, four to five different names were associated to me.
What I learned then? Teenage years are complicated, and that need for affirmation and assurance exists. I learned that teenage Filipino boys get insecure when a girl is honest and forward with her emotions. Well — that was back in 2000/2001. I wonder if that has changed. As for myself, I learned that my words hold power, and that I am capable of swaying hearts and playing minds — a double-edged sword.
College saw me with my first boyfriend. I never went through the crush stage with him, as I wasn’t attracted to him in any way — appearance and character-wise; but he was drawn to me, and I fell for him. I learned a lot during our short relationship:
- that I don’t adhere to the “you complete me” credo — I am a whole person, and I should strive to be one;
- that lust is lust, and it can make one blind to many, many things;
- that I truly am my mother’s daughter: intellectual, independent, and will take no bullshit promises unless backed by action;
- that I can be part of someone else’s life; and
- I can break someone else’s heart.
I went through a Sailor Mars/Rei Hino phrase where I have sworn off men from my life. It felt good. I knew what I was missing, but I didn’t need it. It was a phase where I felt that I had no need for sentimentalities because they made me weak and vulnerable. I scoffed at couples who gave me the oogies, and I hung around fellow Single Ladies as we reveled in our being Independent Women.
And yet, there was a small part of me that was filled with guilt and self-condemnation, that I was incapable of loving unconditionally, and that I didn’t deserve it. It was a period of independence and self-assurance gone wrong.
Being a working a student and being away from home for long periods offered me new grounds for learning. I found myself in two relationships (albeit considerably unconventional and usually frowned upon in society). I learned a whole lot more about the physical side of relationships, and what I am not looking for in terms of intimacy. The ensuing “break ups” were a mess, and my acquired knowledge and wisdom came with a hefty price: many years of questioning my self-worth, and feeling that relationships are ultimately utilitarian.
I managed well enough without breaking down or whatever. I was able to forge many deep friendships, but the insecurity of not being needed, wanted, and loved lingered at the back of my mind. This prevented me from pursuing my romantic interests, even with something as simple as asking a guy out for coffee (granted, a girl asking a guy out isn’t the norm here, so that worked against me, too).
But today — well, more like last night, actually — I realized that something had gradually been changing inside me. The changes were subtle, but the total sum of the little trickles suddenly came crashing down.
The past relationships were colored with doubt (“No one will like me back.”), with fear (“What do I have to give up to be with this person? Meh, forget it! Do we even have a future together? EEW!!”), with insecurities (“I am not beautiful/intelligent/talented/etc. enough.”) I was incapable of looking forward, and I forced myself to stay in the present — to satisfy temporary cravings and to cater to my vanity. Don’t get me wrong: I don’t regret what I have done. They have made me into the person I am today; and without them, I wouldn’t have had this revelation —
When I was thinking of this particular crush, I realized that not only I can be in love, but I can love; that I can be in a blessed relationship without the anxiety of ‘losing myself’; that I can look forward to a future with someone I hold dear — and not just to look at the happy, giddy moments, but also to anticipate the challenges that we might face. I have no fear, as I know that Someone faithfully has my back. I realized that I shouldn’t be ashamed of my wishes and the desires of my heart. “Ask and you shall receive”, it was said.
It was through this crush that I started to put words to my wishes — first in my diary, then I opened up to my prayer group, and now I put it here: I now want a boyfriend, and eventually, a husband. I want to be a loving wife and, if it is to be, a loving mother. But one thing at a time, ne |Da ?
Who is this crush? I’ll probably keep it a secret (unless you know me so well that you’ve figured it out already). But with the realization, I think I’ll have to let him go — not because of my being daunted by the impossibility of our being together, but I don’t want him to preoccupy my radar so much that I might miss the poor chap I’m meant to save from being stuck in a tree :P.
Thus, without the negatives clouding my view, I now look at things with joyful anticipation. It doesn’t mean that I’m willingly blind to the challenges that a committed relationship will bring — far from it! — and I still have lots of room to grow! But now, I can (and I know will be able to) face them with faith, hope and grace.