Fantasies often start out the same way, as something innocent. They are beautiful desires, benign, the kind of thing that just makes you giddy and full of hope.
Maybe it’s a friend you’ve been secretly harboring feelings for. Maybe a celebrity, or really just the character they play on screen. Someone who becomes this unattainable dream, someone you just know would change your life. Someone to represent your ideal future.
And so, that’s what they become. You decide if you could just get this person, this fantasy, everything else would fall into place. You’ll be happy. You’ll live the life you want.
But whenever we do this, the person we’ve done this to is stripped of being an actual person. They become an idea. An idea of what you want, what you’re desperately hungry for. You decide who they are without even asking.
You call them your soulmate before even learning their soul.
When you love the idea of someone, you’re setting yourself up to be disappointed. You’ve crafted such a grandiose dream that there’s just no way the real person can live up to it. Not even the most wonderful person can compete with the Dream Version you’ve created.
If you continue this pattern, and I say this from experience, you’re only sabotaging the chance at something real. You’re running the risk of never actually getting to know someone. And that’s the only way to ever achieve true intimacy. That’s the only way to truly fall in love.
It’s not that you should settle. I’m not suggesting you throw away all those things you’re hoping to find in a partner. It’s good to know what you want. It’s good to have standards for how you expect to be treated.
But date someone so you can LEARN who they are. Don’t go in thinking you have them all figured out. Don’t hold them to an idea of what you HOPE they are. That’s unfair in so many ways. And that’s a good way to remain forever alone.
When you love the idea of someone, you aren’t in love. Maybe you’re trying to protect yourself because, dammit, falling for someone is terrifying. Maybe you’re scared to actually open up.
But until you do those things, what you’re feeling can’t be called love. Love requires vulnerability, listening, seeing flaws in the other person and still wanting to stick around. You can’t have that with an idea.
An idea will always be just that: an idea.