In Love With the Idea: A Dangerous Delusion

Don’t be angry, don’t be sad, and don’t sit cryin’ over good times you’ve had. There’s a girl right next to you, and she’s just waitin’ for something to do.

And there’s a rose in the fisted glove and the eagle flies with the dove, and if you can’t be with the one you love, honey, love the one you’re with, love the one you’re with, love the one you’re with, love the one you’re with.”

-Stephen Stills

I’ve been in the dating field for about a decade now and during that time I learned quite a bit about all the mistakes one can make when casually dating someone or seeing someone with the intent and hope of taking things to a more committed level.  One concept that repeatedly comes up in my life and my friends’ lives is falling in love with the idea of someone while believing you actually love that person.

When we newly start dating someone whom we are excited to be with, it is easy to day dream and fantasize about the near future together.  Visions of pillow talk and fun outings dance through our heads and we become almost mesmerized by or infatuated with that person.  This obviously does not happen with everyone we date but there are certain people whom we maybe are strongly attracted to or feel a real chemistry with whom we hope will want a real relationship with us.  While it is fun to think about the possibilities of a future together or concoct potential conversations with him/her (such as the first “I love you”), it can become difficult to draw the line between your mental world and the real one.  Over time you may feel that you are falling or have fallen in love with someone but that is not really the case.  You instead, have  merely fallen in love with an idea…and this is a dangerous happening.

I personally have done this once and it really messes with your mind.  I was dating a guy very briefly but it ended up transforming into a casual, infrequent hook-up scenario.  We essentially were friends with benefits however, we really only hung out to partake in said benefits.  After about 6 months I realized that I had real feelings for him and that I didn’t want things to be just casual but I was willing to compromise because what were doing was as much commitment as he was interested in.  It took being at a bar with him and some mutual friends and witnessing him trying to pick up another girl to realize the depth of my feelings and how foolish I had been.

For months we had been sleeping together and despite the clear understanding that this wasn’t going to go anywhere, I read into many of his behaviors and actions as suggesting the contrary.  I would often think about the day he would admit he had feelings for me or we would  become an actual couple.  While all along I was fully aware that we were not dating, I certainly wanted to be.  I convinced myself that he was this great guy and was perfect for me.  Somewhere during those seven or eight months I lost sight of the line between who he was and who I wanted him to be.  At some point I had fallen in love with the idea of him that I’d created but believed that I was actually in love with the real him and for a few months deluded myself into having feelings for him.  Sure there were some signs that he was interested but I read into things to much and made them out to be  more then they were–making him more than he was.

Sometimes we get an idea of someone in our minds of who or how we want someone to be and if we are with them long enough we convince ourselves that we are with that ideal person and we ignore signs of the contrary.  We have delusions of grandeur either as subconscious justification of our staying with that person or  perhaps just because we haven’t found the person who is our perfect guy or gal so we make the one we are with that special someone.  It’s like that song says, “If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with.”

I had always thought that I was alone in my particular relationship woes however, more recently I have come to realize that many of my friends as well as other women out there have had similar experiences.  In fact, this concept of “falling in love with the idea” was actually coined by a close friend while she was describing an old flame.  She too had been hooking up with a guy and allowed herself to fall hard only, she was not actually in love with him she was mistakenly in love with the concept of him she had engendered in her mind.  Eventually we do realize the truth, whether it is pointed out to us or we snap out of it like some sort of trance.  Yet realizing that you are in love with someone who doesn’t love you and that this person you thought you wanted to be with was not at all who you thought he was can be devastating.   In the end, it is our own fault and we cannot really blame those individuals for not measuring up to our ideals; however, that does not make it hurt any less.

I will never forget that night in my example driving  home with a friend balling my eyes out (wasted no doubt) saying how I was in love with him and he didn’t love me back and how much it hurt.  This friend turned to me and said, “What do you love about him…really?”  In that moment I could not even justify my feelings because aside from great sex and some fun times, being with him caused mainly heartache.  What did I love about him?…I loved the figment of my imagination with the same name and appearance, not the real deal.  So, if you start to fall for someone, ask yourself what it is that makes you love him/her.  If you can give real, factual examples then perhaps you truly are in love otherwise it is just lust or an idea, not a reality and you should take a break from seeing him/her so that you can figure things out.

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