For lack of a better term, I am a man who develops crushes with ease. Wiktionary (the go-to source for every graduate student) defines a crush as “A short-lived and unrequited love or infatuation; the object of this infatuation.” (At the least ‘short-lived’ is inaccurate; even the quote they use for that definition refers to ‘nine years.’) For the sake of this article I am going to alter the definition to be “a not-necessarily romantic love not returned as such that springs up suddenly or unexpectedly.” Even if this definition is imperfect, we all know exactly of what I speak.
When I say I ‘develop crushes with ease,’ what do I mean? Just this: that within few minutes of meeting a women I tend to think “she is pretty amazing and it would be pretty cool to be married to her.” As I get to know someone I tend to think more about a potential relationship (particularly once we get passed the “are you discerning something other than marriage?” stage), still focused on the fact that she is pretty amazing. Even if they are in someway or another unavailable this fact of amazement can maintain some sort of crush (on the non-romantic side).
I can, frankly, entertain at least a half-dozen such crushes. It is a constant rotation of “Wow, look at her play the piano!” to “Wow, her poetry is awesome!” to “Wow, she knows so much theology!” and so forth. I understand well a sentiment a seminarian I know once expressed. Half jokingly (or perhaps less than half) he said that a reason he is in seminary is so that he does not have to choose one woman; he can love them all.
This is, I think, closer to the way things are supposed to be. In Love and Responsibility Karol Wojtyła talks about the proper order of romantic love: femininity (or masculinity) then body. Take a look at your first crush, back in middle school: what is it that you were first attracted by? Odds are it wasn’t their body but that they were other, both as an impenetrable other person and the other sex. It was a moment of “Wow, woman!” or “Wow, man!” Only later would you notice that oh, hey, they have a cute [insert physical feature here].
This is, likewise, the proper way any romance should go, or at least tend toward. What is truly attractive about another person is not their sexuality and sexual presentation, but their personhood. To say “Cute [insert physical feature here], I should ask her out” is not only demeaning but wrong-headed. Rather it should be “Wow, she loves Shakespeare!” or “Wow, she’s a bigger Tolkien geek than I’ll ever be! I’d love to get to know everything about her!”
The tragedy of marriage is that it only lets us know one person so intimately (barring death and remarriage). What my crushing has taught me is that there will always be another, fascinating woman who I will not get to know as well as I should like (It is safe to say that I will never get to know my wife as well as I should like). The value of each other human being is so far beyond measure; all I can do is try to not stare awkwardly and whisper to myself “Wow.”
Justin Burgard is easily enraptured by Truth, Goodness, and Beauty. He is also one paper away from finishing his course work on his MA. He may or may not survive the weekend.