Who Is Your Unicorn?

In modern times, when people no longer think about horses with horns that have magical restorative properties, the concept of a unicorn takes on new meaning. Your unicorn is someone in your life who represents the tension between desire and impossibility; a love that never manifests itself in a traditional sense of the term, but is derived from absence as opposed to presence.

Everything about this person screams “almost” — you “almost” dated; you “almost” fell in love; you “almost” changed your life to be near them; you “almost” drifted through life without engaging with them at all. Like the mythical unicorn, you can never concretely have this person, you can often only grasp at their essence.

Unicorns are rare: you only have one. You likely encountered this person during your formative years, when Robert Frost poems still meant something to you. Below are some key points that can help you in identifying your unicorn. But above all of these points, trust your gut: the identity of your unicorn in most cases will reveal itself to you almost immediately, as long as you are honest with yourself. Sometimes, this discovery can be a little frightening.

1. Unobvious physical attraction. There’s a siren song in this beauty — something that drills down to your core. This could be a quirk (physical or mental) that can be polarizing or unconventional to others, but something that ultimately just sh-ts serotonin into your brain. Remember, not everybody thinks a horn in the center of your forehead is cute. And that’s just fine.

2. The worst timing ever. Timing and social connectivity are the bane of developing a traditional relationship with your unicorn. Very often, it works like this: you’re single when they’re committed, or they’re single when you’re busy struggling with your self-identify, or you’re too busy daydreaming about the mundane reality of a long-distance relationship while they’re shooting you starry-eyed laser beams across the room in your media ethics class. If you could select any time for your unicorn to appear, it certainly wouldn’t be at these moments of pure inconvenience.

3. Reciprocation and climax. This is absolutely fundamental to identifying your unicorn. If the feeling between you and this person isn’t mutual, then they are not your unicorn. Congratulations, you have identified an unrequited love/crush/lust/fuck buddy (pick the most appropriate option) that you’re not 100% over. In some mythologies, unicorns seek out and select you; it’s a relationship that’s shared as opposed to being one-sided. In addition, there’s almost always a climax: sometimes it’s a pure sexual act, other times it’s a conversation about how these feelings have protruded through your flesh for an extended period of time.

Here’s what happened to me.

I unknowingly met my unicorn during my freshman year of college. Back then, she was just the cute girl with perfectly gauged ears and Bane T-shirts who I failed to acknowledge because of my shyness. But I noticed her pop up in places over the next four years: eating bagels at the student center, drinking Miller Lite at the only interesting bar on campus, working side-by-side with me on the college newspaper. Then, at the last possible moment, we were realized.

She appeared at a house party days before our final set of college exams. We had never been at a party together. It was the first time we shared real words beyond classroom banter. We never even properly greeted each other — it was like we jumped back into the middle of a conversation that had started four years before, when we picked each other up on our hearts’ sonar.

We snuck off into a spare room and kissed for what felt like a dynasty. I could feel a chapter about this moment beings etched into my brain. And then, two weeks later, we graduated. I left for D.C., she was bound for Pittsburgh, and our lives changed forever, as we became actual adults. As short-lived as it was, the concept of an “us” was over and done. We never dated. We definitely tried to fight the distance and do so. But we didn’t, and that’s just fine.

Most people treat the departure of their unicorn like an ex who stole their favorite Cat Power vinyl and broke up with them on their birthday — the unicorn is pushed into the darkest, deepest caves of their memory never to be recovered again because of the powerful and painful longing associated with their unicorn. Whatever you do with your unicorn, don’t do this. Keep this person close.

Identifying your unicorn can be the codex to decrypting your complex inner workings. When everything in life feels like it belongs in a blighted landfill, your unicorn can help clean it up and empower you to grow in a way that’s beyond mere friendship, you are bound with your unicorn through your pulse.

Your unicorn is a catalyst for all the best things about you; they have the Game Genie codes to help you conquer your own life on an intrepid scale. Mine gave me the strength to overcome pushing reset on my life in two different cities, begin developing a healthy relationship with my body and let me know that it’s okay to follow my heart even when the sum of the facts around me don’t make any sense. And that’s just off the top of my head. Remember trust falls? Remember what nonsense they were? The stabilization your unicorn can provide is like a trust fall that camps out in your soul forever.

Life is hard. Know your unicorn. TC mark

image – Lee Green

More From Thought Catalog

  • Adamcrittenden

    Haiku #?

    You shaved off your horns
    on a whim, and I was sad
    because I wanted (to pet them).

  • https://twitter.com/#!/ZachAmes macgyver51

     I am speechless at what has transpired upon this page. Unicorns… Unicorns.

  • http://www.about.me/tanyasalyers Tanya Salyers

    I just let go of my unicorn two months ago, after seven years of this crap…this is so spot on.

  • http://tbaugh.com Travis Baugh

    bane shirts and drinkin miller lite…

  • Nikki

    I love this. That’s all.

  • Talia Ralph

    You. You are brilliant. 

  • A.J.

    This describes my relationship with a good friend of mine to a T. We only admitted that we had feelings for each other within the past two months, though we’ve known each other for two years. After talking to each other just once, our bond was rendered unbreakable and we only became closer. Unfortunately, as life would have it, we can’t have each other. I’m graduating in one month and moving away in less than another. It hurts more than I can say.

  • Anonymous

    best thing i’ve ever read. 

  • fairy princess

    my unicorn is my best friend. i don’t regret how it turned out at all :)

  • Beea_73

    I know my unicorn! i plan on keeping my unicorn only as an unicorn and nothing much because if i try to change his unicorn status, he wont be my unicorn anymore.  i like my unicorn as my unicorn and nothing much. and i know for sure you can t marry your unicorn!!!!!  why, you re asking me? because deep down i know that path will never work or it will end in a disaster. so, i prefer to keep liking my unicorn, and change nothing about it. it s better this way!

  • Alissa

    This is amazing. Best thing I’ve read on TC.

  • poppet

    Are you me? Seriously, I have my unicorn, I keep her close, (she lives 16,000 miles away) but she is always there for me and I for her! I don’t feel quite do hopeless anymore. Thankyou

  • http://twitter.com/sarahannelloyd Sarah Anne Lloyd

    I love the Game Genie analogy.

  • Veronica

    But I don’t have a unicorn. Now I just feel empty.

  • http://twitter.com/shineesherlock Josh (조쉬)

    I guess I have a “unicorn,” but do we really have to call it that?

  • Anonymous

    This describes the only attractive male friend that I have whom I haven’t gotten involved with.  Up until now, he was my sole shred of evidence that men and women can have platonic friendships.  My only “just friend” is a unicorn.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/MREXSWIIY5OM5ADTHUNNACFPM4 Geraldine

    love the article, makes me think if I already let go of my unicorn or has to arrive yet? hmmp 

  • Diego

    TC has jumped the shark with that reference to Bane t-shirts. CAN THIS SITE START AGAIN?

  • Shatha H.

    All true, but i’ll keep on searching for a better term other than “unicorn”! there should be a better representation for that person…

    any suggestions?!!

  • http://www.twitter.com/mexifrida Frida

    I met my unicorn during a semester I went back to my native country. 
    Never going to be in the same place again, but this reminded me to respond to a reply he made recently to a comment i made on a song I showed him 2 years ago.
    He still remembers.

  • Caroline

    The cat I had as a child was named Unicorn (Uni for short). She is long since dead. I lost my Unicorn before I knew how to love- how very depressing. 

  • Ariane B

    omg.
    you just made me cry over my bowl of cereals.
    this is genius.

  • http://twitter.com/danmckean Dan Mckean

    I have to admit, I lost interest when I realised it has to be mutual. No unicorns in my life I’m afraid/glad to say…

    • http://twitter.com/philosolaktor Lakshitha

      Exactly. I lost you at “If the feeling between you and this person isn’t mutual, then they are not your unicorn.” 

  • http://twitter.com/shironjagi Shiro!

    How do I let go of my unicorn?? I am tired of the endless maybes and what-ifs. I just want it to end

  • Mads

    This is insane. I totally have a unicorn. I’m freaking out about this. right now. You just told the story of me and my unicorn. WOW. 

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