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    When you’re in love, you know you’re in love / No matter what you try to do

    You know when you fall hard for someone you can never have? Of course, you do–we’ve all done it. It’s one of life’s great equalizers, since no matter how good-looking, built, successful, smart, and fun-loving you are, there are going to be people to whom you are not irresistible. Everyone gets the chance to be laid low (but not, frustratingly, laid) by desire at times.

    As with most sticky situations, handling this one honorably and pragmatically requires delicacy. You have a few options:

    • Do the very traditional thing and hide your feelings entirely
    • Hide your feelings from everyone except a confidant or two

    That first has the disadvantage of not allowing you the tiny hope that someday circumstances might change in your favor. However, it has the advantage of…well, not allowing you the tiny hope that someday circumstances might change in your favor, which can be a very effective self-torture instrument. If you refuse to talk to anyone–not just the object of your unrequited affections, but anyone else also–you’re forced to think about other things to do and talk about. The distraction thus effected may not be as miraculously healing as Mother always used to say, but it works better than anything else.

    The second seems to be the course of action that most people go for, but it has its drawbacks. Let’s just say that, ten years ago when I was coming out, I was the confider…and for the last several years, the gods have paid me back GOOD by frequently making me the confidee. In my conservative Christian upbringing, I frequently heard that if you once gave in to your sexual desire, you’d soon find that it had expanded to the point of taking over your life and making you a total sex maniac. I’ve never found that to be true. What I’ve found people do become addicted to is pouring out their self-pity to an always-ready listener. Weekly orgies of sorrow that start with “Why does it hurt so much?”–and descend from there–don’t do much to get your mind off your troubles.

    Um, and then there’s a third possible course of action:

    • Bottle everything up, except for neurotically flirtatious comments dropped at regular intervals (which your unwilling intended has no choice but to politely turn aside), then one day completely lose control and deliver a savage, tearful tirade in which you essentially accuse him of leading you on by treating you like all his other friends

    I have to say that I don’t care for that particular approach, efficacious though it be at conveying in no uncertain terms how abject you are. It’s not just that it’s unfair to hold someone responsible for feelings he made no effort to stir up; it’s also that from then on he’s going to have little choice but to give you a wide berth. That, or be gingerly and pitying in his dealings with you, which is generally not that good for the ego. It really is helpful to keep in mind that there are good reasons that most civilized behavior has strong elements of repression.

    2 Responses to “When you’re in love, you know you’re in love / No matter what you try to do”

    1. John says:

      And sometimes you finally do get what you want and find out she (or he) wasn’t who you thought they were. Like the Arabs curse goes: may your every wish be fulfilled.

    2. Sean Kinsell says:

      Yeah, that’s an equally vexing problem.

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