Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Why and How to Crush-Proof Your Heart

Ha ha you fell for my clickbait title! Of course you can’t crush-proof your heart. What a ridiculous claim! You may as well say, how to not be human.

BUT from my long and illustrious past as a regular crush-haver I will say that I have definitely seen that I played a major part in my own self-destructive spirals.

Hold on, I haven’t presented why I think crushes are to be avoided at all. Aren’t they just a fun and exciting part of life? You would think so, except when you are smack-dab in the middle of a yet another hopeless and painful crush.

Okay, here’s the bullet point list.
  • Crushes are not based on reality. So the more often you are consumed by a crush, the less you are able to live in the real world. '
  • Crushes can tempt us to treat people as objects. Crushes are ALL about ‘the way you make me feel’, not about the actual person.
  • Crushes can be dangerous, because they lead us further and further down a path of attention-seeking and thrill-seeking. 
  • The bigger we allow a crush to become, the less we are able to love and focus on real relationships and human beings in our lives. 
  • Crushes way too easily turn obsessive. You know it’s true, all you Facebook stalkers out there!
  • Crushes can be freakin’ painful. Maybe not heartbreak painful (he loved me and left me types), but most definitely heartache painful. And not a suffering that comes with truly loving someone, but self-inflicted wounds that play on our insecurities, fears and unfulfilled desires. 

Convinced yet? Even if you are, you are probably very skeptical of your power to prevent any of that pain. Crushes just happen, right? Well, partly. Attraction just happens. Not all attraction has to turn into a full-blown crush. So here are my best tips to strengthen your emotional boundaries, and replacing infatuation with a more authentic brand of love.

1. Accept that this is a long process of retraining your emotions. There is no shortcut method.

2. Quickest, most brutal but most effective method - stop feeding on emotional candy. Romance novels, chick flicks, listening to ‘Perfect’ on repeat, cutesy #relationship goals memes, romantic fanfic, Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran music videos. If you aren’t willing to significantly cut down on that, you are most likely doomed to live this way forever. I’m not saying NEVER watch a romcom, just know yourself, and pace yourself. If you need to do a movie fast for a while, do it! Replace these things with good books, classical music, world issues, biographies, sci-fi… the world is full of interesting things!

3. Start looking at the opposite sex with new eyes. You are only going to land up with ONE person (hopefully). That means everyone else should be a brother or a sister. Girls, can you decide to look at every new guy you meet as a brother and a friend, not a potential spouse or boyfriend for you or your best friend?

4. Look at people as they really are, and get to know them, warts and all. Spend real time with them. Ask them questions. Usually people are annoying enough and REAL enough that once you get to know them, the rosy crush glow starts fading away. Then either you have a REAL friendship based on accepting and liking the person for who they are, or you er.. don’t. I read somewhere ‘The more you talk to a person the more you either love them or hate them’. That’s how I got over most of my crushes. :-D

5. Absolutely NO Facebook stalking! Or any other type of stalking. Don’t go down that road.

6. No keeping of souvenirs, photos, clothes belonging to the crush. Don’t feed it! Self-control! You’re better than this! Do you really want to become the crazy girl from The Crush? (Watched it when I was 12, scarred me for life.)

7. Keep your mind and your heart busy. An idle mind is the devil’s workshop – it’s not just a saying our parents came up with to make us work harder. Find ways to fill your days and time with projects that excite you and stimulate your mind. Organize an after school activity for underprivileged kids! Write a book! Paint a picture! Start an NGO! Look for a different job if all it does is bore you and keep you dreaming about a person you don’t have.

8. Invest in the relationships you already have. Love is NOT just a feeling, and it is definitely not anywhere close to an infatuation. So train yourself in real love by learning the love languages of the people around you, and using them!

9. Don’t obsess! I don’t know if guys do this, but we girls love to sit and talk and talk about our crushes, reliving and analyzing every word or action, feeling the feelings all over again. You may feel attracted to someone, you don’t have to immediately talk it out. Most times what may have passed easily gets blown up into this BIG THING.

10. Attraction is not always romantic. The next time you feel drawn or attracted to someone, look at them, and say “I am attracted to the goodness, beauty, kindness of this person because it reflects the goodness, beauty, kindness of God.” You can feel drawn to someone without needing to own them, or needing them to prove that you too are attractive. It’s kind of like what we joking call man-crushes or girl-crushes… but let’s expand it to all people of both sexes. That way, when you ARE in a relationship, you are still able to relate to people who are not your spouse. Did you know married people still have crushes? No big deal… as long as they don’t act on them. But even better if we can all train ourselves to look at people differently, not as objects of our emotional or sexual fantasies, but as PERSONS with innate value and dignity quite apart from the way they make us feel about ourselves.

11. Invest in healthy friendships with people who love and value you so that you are not constantly looking for someone to validate you or give you attention.

12. Change the channel when you start day-dreaming. You can’t prevent a sudden thought from barging into your mind, but you can sure as heck show it to the door. Why yes, fantasizing about kissing someone is a way of objectifying a human being.

I wasted a LOT of my younger years obsessing on one crush after another. Of course it was occasionally exciting when someone I liked seemed to like me back, or even paid me the smallest amount of attention. But the result of a crush-heavy life was that I was sad a lot of the time, because those crushes were visual representations of unfulfilled desires. I would go on family holidays, ignoring my family, and walk around depressed because I just wished I had a boyfriend. What an idiot!

Thankfully in my early 20s God gave me a loving but firm wake-up call, and I stopped being bored and boring and started LIVING my life. I have still had crushes after that, but they have been far less frequent, and not as powerful or painful (with a few lapses for shorter periods of time). I still feel the feelings, but my emotions don’t control me. I am far happier with who I am (SINGLE AND 32 WHAT WHAT!) and am able to have healthy and good relationships with most people I meet.


Kidding. Just kidding.

Recommended reading:

Fill These Hearts by Christopher West
How (and Why) Not To Fall in Love 
Guys, Stop Texting Girls! And Other Super Helpful Advice for the 'Good' Guys