Weekly Musing: I’ve Got a Crush On You

Ahhh, the stench of soon-to-be-decaying flowers and melted chocolate permeates the air this time of year. Yes, it’s Valentine’s Day. A day meant to celebrate love apparently forgetting that there are actually 365 days in a year, all of which provide a fine opportunity to celebrate love.

I’ve mentioned in the past that I don’t consider myself to be the most romantic of people. But this hasn’t stopped me from having a crush or two or more on a fictional character. I’m not ashamed to admit that since I know I’m in good company and I know it’s not gender, age, or genre specific.

Why is that we as human beings develop crushes on a fictional character? I think the quickest and easiest answer is because the fictional character stays the same. Even the most well-developed character is still static. After all, he or she isn’t subject to the real world on a daily basis and can’t be beat down by life. It’s a comforting thought especially when life is ever changing and the story and characters on the page will always be there.

Either that or having a crush on a fictional character is just plain fun.

I don’t think there’s anything harmful or odd about it. Most people know the difference between real life and fiction and I think the crush, like real life ones, passes. At least it does for me but I’m fickle. In fact I think it might be a compliment to the author because he or she has written a character so likeable that they become likeable.

When we do develop a crush on a fictional character, what is it that first draws us in? Is it the physical description or is it personality? I imagine a lot of it has to do with what we find agreeable in real life. I know for me it’s all about what kind of personality the character has. Write a funny, smart, and somewhat awkward and snarky male character and chances are I’ll be hooked. Throw in a physical description of dark hair and eyes and I’m ready to throw on a T-shirt with the dude’s name on it.

Not really. I’m not insipid.

Or maybe it’s about being strangely drawn to a fictional character the polar opposite of what we would consider worthy of our time in real life. But in between the pages of a book, he or she is worth our time and long after we close the book they stay with us. In a way it’s kind of like “dating” but without the cost of a date and messiness real relationships have.

Does what we find crush-worthy in a fictional character reflect what we desire in real life or vice versa? Ahhh, the classic which came first: the chicken or the egg? The answer probably has a lot to do with what kind of books you read and at what age you started reading them.

For example, most of the books I read as a teenager were not romantic as I wasn’t into that stuff. If the stories did have it, I really didn’t pay attention. It wasn’t until I feel in love in real life that I started paying attention to that kind of stuff. An ah-ha moment happened in which I recognized I seemed to fancy a certain kind of romantic male character.

Which leads me to ponder what if I had always been of a romantic heart and read romance novels, would I have turned out differently? Naturally there are more solid psychological factors that contribute into what we find attractive that far outweigh the influence of a book. Much as it pains to me somewhat dismiss the power the written word can have on life in some instances.

In the end, we all have crushes on a fictional character. Whether it be more of a romantic kind or a type of wish fulfillment, it doesn’t matter. It’s hard not to when an author has worked hard to craft a character and story that resonates with readers. It’s part of the process of trying to elicit from the reader a visceral reaction. So regardless if you have a special real life someone, go ahead and snuggle up with your fictional crush once in a while. Have fun imagining him or her feeding you ice cream in the bath tub.


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