Infatuation: Flights of fancy

by Paul Goodchild on June 8, 2009

This is a bit of a random post, somewhat outside of the normal theme of my writings of late.  They’re usually a bit more structured and based on sky high principles of living a better life, but today, I feel like writing about a topic we all have to deal with:  infatuation

An introduction

Who needs an introduction to this?  Me!  Why do we spiral out of control sometimes when we meet that “special” someone?  Over the past couple of years I have had a few bouts of horrible infatuation to such an extent that it’s consumed my waking hours.  If I’m not consumed by it in the moment, it’s not far from the back of my mind and only just takes a small stimulus to send my mind into a movie-making mode and I’m running through scenarios again.

Generally I’m fairly rational – I’ve got an engineer’s brain and I’m an MBTI Thinker.  I don’t hold on to irrational fears that often and I can step out of my instinctual flight/fight response and deal with problems slightly separated from the conditions itself.  Usually.  So why when I meet a girl sometimes does a switch flick in my brain and off I go consumed for weeks, sometimes months, with the idea of what could be?

This is exacerbated since I also suffer from, or at least used to until more recently, analysis paralysis… (where I heard this term I don’t know, but it basically means that) I think things through from every possible angle and tackle all the “what if” questions and never actually hit the execution stage.  I’ve mostly grown past that now, but it’s still there if only to a much lesser degree.

So, infatuation+analysis paralysis = torture

But if I can understand infatuation, perhaps I can get rid of this affliction.  Here’s a highly recommended start on understanding this whole crazy thing:

Nip it in the bud

About 18 months ago I fell for a girl and the infatuation lasted about 4 weeks.  But what a mental rollercoaster!  It was a turning point for me in recognising infatuation for what it is early on, and working your mind to see the reality of what is there, and more importantly what isn’t there.  Because that’s what infatuation is at its core… your mental construct of what is.  It isn’t based on any sort of reality, but rather some sort of biological/physiological switch was flicked in your brain and all you want is that person.

Your mind will begin to create a world that now includes this person and all their most endearing qualities… it doesn’t matter how well you know them, the less you know in fact, the more powerful the illusion.  How perfect can one person be…?  This one is different, you say… the way he/she looked, the way they spoke, dressed, made you laugh.  How delightfully wonderful it would be if they felt the same as you!

But… do they feel the same as you?  And here is the slippery slope… the perpetual analysis of every single, tiny thing that transpired between you so that you may determine the answer to that very question.

Recognising this simple fact will help to release you from the illusion: there is no you and them.  Not yet anyway.  Nor will there be all the while the scenario is being played out only in your head.  It doesn’t matter what they think/say/do.  Ever!  Unless it is done in the context of your relationship with them, both of you knowing where you stand.

Infatuation plays a vital role in bringing people together, and I’m sure evolution engineered us this way for a reason.  But unless we act on these impulses, we are in for a whole world of pain.  How best to act on them?  That isn’t in the scope of this article…

The thing to remember is to act.  Don’t put the responsibility on the guy or the girl… it is your call.  You must make it happen and you cannot expect to achieve anything if you listen to your friends that tell you “he/she should do x, y, z.”.  It’s down to you… either act, or see the reality there and then which is that you don’t hardly know this person.  Try to put the impulses on pause for a moment and see what’s really there.

Take one of your closest friends as a benchmark and work out how well you know this person and how long it has taken you to reach this point.  Compare this against the quality time you have spent until now with your new infatuatee and decide how realistic your feelings are.  If you realise it’s a bit pie-in-the-sky, then you’re infatuated and you need to get back to rational thinking once more.  If your feelings are sound, then great… you probably are already rational, but taking action is equally important.

Hat in the ring

Just given my most recent experience in this arena, I have learned the value of not analysing all the possible scenarios for the future, but just taking charge and putting yourself on the line.  Get your hat in the ring because only then will you have a chance at following through.  You may well get rejected, but in truth this is a good thing since there is relief in closure and a release that allows you to move on.  You may get lucky and the other person might also think along the same lines as you… you just don’t know until you try it.  Acceptance of the outcome before it arrives is a good approach – this isn’t the same as expecting the worst, but just knowing that whatever happens, you’ll be able to handle and move on to the next stage whichever that is.

Anyone who knows me quite well personally will know that I haven’t really followed my own advice on this subject, up until now.  I’ve been horrible at following through and taking any sort of affirmative action.  This has meant that for long stretches I’ve been preoccupied and allowed many other more promising opportunities just pass me by.  Something has changed in me in the last 6 months due to several different influences and catalysts… and so I stepped up my game in the last few weeks and already I’m much better off.  The time for prolonged musing and analysis is over…

[This post, as I said in the beginning, is a little out of step with my other posts, but I hope me sharing some of my thoughts on this provides another helpful perspective on this vast subject]

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