I try to be honest in this blog. I figure that revealing myself warts and all might inspire someone somewhere to realise that they're not alone in the way they think or feel, or in the experiences they've had. Life can be lonely when you go through something on your own, after all.
This morning, something (and I genuinely don't know what) got me to thinking about my love life, or lack thereof. See, I have this tendency to develop huge crushes that I never do anything about, because I don't believe for one second that anyone I am hugely attracted to could possibly feel the same way about me. Maybe it's a weird form of self-preservation, having been in an abusive relationship and being genuinely terrified of being hurt again, but I just tend to fall for someone and then never do a thing about it.
It's time that stopped.
Because, you see, I'm tired of the endless merry-go-round that I put myself on, over and over again. I'm sick of repeating the same old routine. Once I really started thinking about it, I realised that there's a definite pattern to my crushes. And, for the sake of total and utter honesty, I've decided to share the five stages that my crushes tend to take. Maybe you'll recognise some of these stages. Maybe you'll think I'm utterly insane. Or maybe, just maybe, sharing this will be the kick up the arse I need to actually do something about it, once and for all.
1. The "Jane Austen" Phase.
Being the over-sentimental fool that I am, I don't really do the initial "I fancy him" bit. Or if I do, I'll find that very soon after (once it goes from "I fancy him" to "I have a crush on him"), I dive straight into what I lovingly call "The Jane Austen Phase."
Basically, my internal monologue begins talking as though I'm in a novel from the 1800s. I'm less Lady Marmalade and more Lady Mary from Downton Abbey.
"Oh, heavens. I do admire him, so! And yet, I simply cannot express my feelings, for it is unladylike to do so. I must wait for him to declare that he wishes to become my suitor..."
I have this propensity to swoon, should the object of my affections pass by. I really ought to carry smelling salts, or something. I'm all desperate longing, secretly hidden behind a polite smile. And I smile because I am hopeless at talking to someone I have just discovered I really like. So, I hide behind my metaphorical bonnet and play my metaphorical piano forte, or whatever it is ladies did in those days...
I hear ya, mate.
2. The "Dress To Impress" Stage.
Despite the crippling shyness I genuinely suffer from (and there are plenty of people who don't believe that I do, because I'm usually able to fake confidence when it counts), once I've decided I like someone, my brain goes: "Right. I'm literally unable to initiate conversation with such a God-like creature, so I must plan my outfits with military precision."
If I know I'm going to be around my crush, then literally everything gets taken into consideration, from which bra gives me the best cleavage, to which eyeshadow compliments my eye-colour best. I've been known to literally plan outfits weeks in advance, if I know I'll be seeing someone I like.
I guess this stage isn't really that silly, either. An outfit that you think makes you look your best makes you feel more confident, after all. And feeling confident means you walk that bit taller (which is useful for me, seeing as I'm tiny), carry yourself better and give off a vibe of "hey, you should talk to me, because I'm awesome," rather than: "please talk to me, because I am terrified and will not approach you EVER."
To be fair, this stage isn't really a stage. It's more of a permanent state of mind...
3. The "WHY DID I SAY THAT?!" Stage.
There comes a point where you can't put it off, any longer. Whether it's my brain being sensible for a change, or whether it's borne out of sheer adoration, there comes a point at which I decide "I am going to talk to him." Hooray!
The trouble is, my brain turns to mush when I'm talking to someone I like. I will either suffer from total verbal diarrhoea and talk at him, or the opposite will happen and I'll look into his big eyes and my brain goes: "Nope, I got nothing."
I swing so wildly from one to the other, that I am a mute one minute and a freakishly talkative idiot, the next. I may give someone I like a compliment and then make an excuse to immediately leave, because I'm scared I've put myself out there too much and he might know I like him (which is terrifying and I can think of nothing to say that isn't "by the way, you're gorgeous and I secretly want to kiss you right in the face" which makes fleeing my only option). Then, the next time I see said person (whether it's later the same evening, the next day or the next month), I may find myself initiating a conversation so obscure that I end up randomly blurting out nonsense about my choice of footwear. And those two examples? Are totally not made up. I genuinely did once give the guy I like a compliment and then scurry off into the night, like a not-at-all-crazy person. And I genuinely did once suffer from such a scrambled-brain, that I began casually telling him about my poor wardrobe choices.
I am beyond help.
4. The Over-Analytical Stage.
True story: I was once at a club and the object of my affections was standing in the opposite corner, having a drink. My friend was desperately trying to get me to go over to talk to him, seeing as he was by himself, but being a total wuss, I kept refusing. Anyway, after a while, he went to the toilet. The toilet door was a few feet away from where I was standing, so as he approached, I smiled and waved and he was so busy looking back that he walked straight into the door.
Once I had finished privately wetting myself with laughter, this caused a major case of over-analysing.
"Was he distracted by my dazzling beauty? Was he looking back and thinking 'I quite like her?' Or was he just looking because I distracted him by waving and now he thinks I'm the bitch who could've caused him a broken nose?!"
I am an over-thinker at the best of times. I do tend to brood on things and it's a curse. But when I have a crush, that over-thinking gets so, so much worse. Once I'm past the "too shy to talk" thing and I can actually communicate with the person I like, then my brain goes to town with the analytical nonsense.
"He looked right into my eyes whilst he was talking to me. Isn't that a sign that you're attracted to someone, or do you think he was just being polite? But I tweeted him and he didn't tweet back, so do you think he actually hates me and is physically repulsed by me? Then again, remember that hug we had? Maybe he doesn't find me utterly disgusting after all. But perhaps he only did it because he's a nice person and he felt sorry for me because I have 'I am desperate for love' tattooed on my damn forehead..."
If there was an off-switch for these thoughts, believe me, I'd press it. And of course, it's not just over-thinking, it's overreacting, too. If he hugs me, I may simply return the hug and seem like a pretty normal human being on the outside, but inside, my heart's beating a Samba and my brain is screaming "OH MY GOD, I TOUCHED HIM!"
Conversely, if I wave at him and he doesn't wave back, it is the end of the sodding world.
5. Depression and Acceptance.
The trouble with being too shy to do anything about it when you have a crush, is that the person remains oblivious to your romantic intentions and you never find out whether they might have felt the same. The consequences of this are that you either dither too long, avoiding showing your feelings and end up getting your heart broken as you watch them go off with someone else, or you eventually become utterly convinced that your crush is definitely a one-way thing and you give up, entirely. Either way, you've reached the wallowing, miserable, binge-eating-cake-whilst-watching-Bridget-Jones phase of unrequited love. And it ain't pretty.
You do your best to put on a brave face in public, insisting that things are just fine and dandy, but if you're as sensitive as I am, inside, your heart is veritable tube-map of cracks, caused by this hideous realisation that you're going to have to let go of those silly dreams you've been having for however many weeks/months/years...
You're so not.
And so, behind closed doors, you get drunk on cheap wine, croon Nothing Compares 2 U at a frighteningly loud volume and watch Beaches because you "need a cry." If you're really heartbroken, you watch Les Mis and refer to yourself as "life's eternal Eponine," whilst warbling along with On My Own.
Or maybe that's just me...
SHUT UP AND DON'T JUDGE ME.
All of this really serves as a reminder that I am too damn old for this shit. This is one hamster wheel I don't really want to run in, anymore.
Maybe, just maybe, it's time to break the cycle and actually do something about it.