The Book of Love: Longing for Someone We Can’t Have

02 May

I’m not calling anyone out here.  I’ve seen it, and I’ve done it.  And I’ve been the object of it.  We’ve all wanted someone we couldn’t have-a celebrity, a friend, another man/woman’s mate, a husband, a wife.  It happens.  We can’t help it.

But why?  Of course, I’ve come up with a theory about this.  Why else would I be writing about it?  So here are my reasons that we want those we can’t have…and why we enjoy it.

1)  It’s safe.  What could be safer than wanting someone we can’t have?  We can’t have them, so it already hurts.  There’s no unexpected heartache, no ups and downs.  It’s all downs, but when you expect it, it’s not so bad.  You don’t have to put yourself at risk at all based solely on the fact that you can’t have that person.

2)  It’s easy.  It’s so easy to love someone when you aren’t romantically involved with the person.  You don’t have to see all the little bad things like what she looks like without make-up, how she gets when she’s cranky.  You don’t have to see him watching sports on the couch in his underwear or walk past a bathroom and think, “Good God what did you eat?”  And you’re in love, so you’re automatically seeing things through rose-colored glasses, so you see no evil.

3)  The challenge.  Deny it all you want, but it’s fun to have a challenge-albeit an honorable one sometimes.  “Can I make her love me back?  Am I better than the douche she’s with?”  “If he’d only let me in, he’d know what it is to be in a healthy relationship.”  It’s primal.  You can’t help it.  You want to be better than the other person or the obstacle that is making your object of affection unattainable.

4)  The pity.  We like when we feel bad for ourselves, and when others feel bad for us.  It makes things easier on us, and gives us something to think about.  It also gives us something to blame the rest of our problems on.  Bad grades?  “Well I’m in love and preoccupied and she doesn’t want me back.”   Sadness can be beautiful…when it’s warranted.  But we like to think all our sadness is beautiful (anyone else thinking of the Backstreet Boys song Shape of My Heart right now?).  That it’s an honorable thing that we’re doing, sacrificing our happiness to demonstrate to another what they’re worth.  The problem with this is that you lose self-worth…and waste a lot of time…which ends up pissing you off more in the long run.

So I get it.  Like I said, I’ve been there.  And that’s my theory.

Plus, longing for unobtainable love kinda makes you look emo.  😉


Posted by on May 2, 2011 in The Book of Love


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7 responses to “The Book of Love: Longing for Someone We Can’t Have

  1. Tim

    May 2, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    I see it…I’ve done it..:) good story

  2. Jerry Pope

    May 2, 2011 at 8:27 pm

    This is a great piece, Erica. As someone who has had lots of experience with this, I find your thinking to be sound. I don’t know how others avoid it; maybe there was some seminar in junior high I missed that explained how to fall in love with the right person.

    Instead of examining all the details (boyfriend or not, what she likes to do with her free time, insane or not), I dive right in. After that I usually find out pretty quickly that it’s a bad match. By then it’s far too late. I’m hooked. The poems roll out. Maybe that’s part of why I do it. Can’t write the blues if you’re happily married.

  3. Cal

    May 17, 2011 at 8:56 am

    You left out the part about the tease. The thrill of the tease when you chat with that forbidden person. The secrets that make you feel alive inside and out and make you destroy your “real” relationship.

    The excitement in being his dinner date on chat, hearing that he’s glad to “see” you when he’s all alone on a bar stool watching hot chics half his age do shots and knowing you can find him at any moment to chat (especially if he is out of town on business and even when he’s camping with his son).

    So, why do chics let it happen, why do you continue to lead that guy on when you know he’s got a wife and kids? And why do you talk about inappropriate subjects?

    How your signs just click.
    How you understand each other so well.
    How horrible the other half is.
    How the boyfriend won’t commit to marriage.
    How rough you have it in general.

    I actually know it as weakness. Too weak to be true to yourself because it is so much easier to live in a fantasy with that other person who doesn’t have to put up with all your crap. Too weak to look in the mirror and see your own flaws and too weak to even know you are doing it.

    If folks spent more time taking care of those they say they love and less time worrying about “oh poor me” and looking for that secret emotional affair to build them up maybe the world woulnd’t be so screwed up when it comes to cheaters.

    Thanks for posting. It was quite enlightening, but nothing new.

  4. erica42285

    May 17, 2011 at 9:46 am

    Hm. I’m not sure I know what you’re talking about with the tease. It seems a little bit like you’re taking this into the cheating aspect of things. I never condoned cheating…nor will I ever.

    The way I see it, it’s human nature to be physically or emotionally attracted to someone. How you deal with these things typically depends on your morale, and who you are as a person.

    I never addressed what happens once you realize you like someone you can’t have. I just think it’s an odd phenomenon that happens.

    It’s nothing new because it’s been going on for years. Like I said, human nature. You bring up some interesting points, though.

    I am going to have to go a little feminist on you and address your, “Why do chics let this happen” statement. It’s not just chicks, buddy. It’s everyone. We ALL feel a little more self-worth when someone wants us. Who wouldn’t?

    It goes back to morale. How you handle the situation tells more about you than the fact that the attraction happened in the first place.

    Cheers to you!

  5. Christine Cancian

    May 18, 2011 at 7:11 pm

    This is the cheating aspect Cheating is not just a physical act. Emotional infidelity is just as powerful to the cheaters and as damaging to the “real” relationship.

    For a male, the physical aspect of cheating is what hurts the most. But in general, for the female the emotional connection a spouse or boyfriend makes with another chic is devestating.

    Your point in 2)It’s easy, talks about how you don’t have to worry about the other stuff that a real relationship has. You grow closer to that other person though because of this – because it is not real life, real living with that person you are having an emotional affair with. The internet, chatting, texting and the workplace make this soooo easy to get away with and the relationship that started off innocent grows deeper through these false connections and fantasy. You both begin to really look forward to seeing each other in the office, to meeting up on facebook for a quick chat and stealing secret moments to vent and to take an interest in each other. You learn intimate details that draw you closer.

    Under your points in 3) The Challenge, you talk about trying to get that other person’s attention and acceptance or “love”. You accept the challenge by building yourself up, getting the other person to see you as attractive and strong and some terrific person (even though they don’t see your true colors here because they are only given the “positive” attributes and facts to play with). You also make the other person feel good about themself by supporting them and rallying on their side when they fight with that boyfriend or spousal unit. You build each other up and form a bond that is as dangerous as sleeping with someone who is not your boyfriend or spouse.

    It’s cheating – it’s out there all over and it’s painful.

    • erica42285

      May 18, 2011 at 7:24 pm

      Hi Christine,

      All valid points. I honestly believe that if someone is in a relationship, and you find yourself attracted to that person, that you ought to avoid all contact with them at all costs. I guess it’s like damage control. I think you should avoid any situation that might put you in the way of ruining a relationship.

      I value relationships more than anything in the world. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be trying so hard to make this long distance one with Mike work. I wouldn’t let anything get in the way of us. And I would never ever want to be the person who got in the way of someone else’s relationship.

      Unfortunately, I think you’re right. It is out there all over and it is painful. I wish it didn’t happen. I think I am really only trying to get at the fact that it’s human nature to be attracted to others, whether they’re in a relationship or not. I wish people realized that they need to control themselves, and that relationships are sacred. I do wish that people wouldn’t interfere with things.

      That said, I think that sometimes, people do not realize (even those with the purest intentions) that they are stepping on toes.

      Emotional cheating in my mind is far worse than physical cheating.


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