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Abby Dates Austin: Are crushes sometimes better than the real thing?

Austin Photo: News_RyanGosling_AlamoDrafthouse
Is crushing on Gosling better than the real deal? Courtesy photo

Sometimes crushes — and the lives they live in inside our own heads — are better than the real deal. In our world of all-access, all-the-time social media, flirting on the interwebs has made it so easy to build someone up in our mind. We unintentionally create imaginary conversations, analyze winks and find meanings that don’t exist. It may mean nothing at all, but in made up crush land, every "like" (not to mention the rare deep like) is enough to set our hearts aflutter.

In our minds, we make out with our crush a million times over or imagine a romantic day by the river with that hunk from across the street. We can skip over the conversational lulls and arguments and accidental farts that eventually squeak out and alter their perception of us forever.

 I guess the formulaic thing to say would be, “Wake up and smell the roses, man! Stop your daydreaming and face reality.” But I disagree. 

But why are crushes almost always better in our heads than they are in reality? It's like ordering something from a catalog and when it arrives, it looks nothing at all like what you’d imagined.

I once worked as a hostess at a steakhouse, and had a ginormous crush on a guy who worked in the kitchen. We exchanged only the sparsest of sentences, and I knew virtually nothing about him. We just stood side by side, him tossing salads while I rolled silverware and gazed longingly in his direction.

Despite our lack of face time, my entire summer was enlivened with the mystery and allure of the redhead I christened “Salad Boy.” My friends and I had a blast filling in the details of his fictitious life while we lounged poolside and blew off our summer reading. I found out later he didn’t actually have the most charming personality, which is a shame. But still, I had my darling little summer fantasy and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Had he really seen me from the hostess stand and asked me out, my great crush would have been ruined when his imagined charm and candor was revealed to be a total sham.

Imagination is a powerful elixir morphing an average line cook into a sexy Herculean poet or turning a bike messenger into an angelic Ryan Gosling prototype who wants your body, your glorious mind — and access to your shared Pinterest boards, too.

I guess the formulaic thing to say would be, “Wake up and smell the roses, man! Stop your daydreaming and face reality.” But I disagree. Sure, we shouldn't get too carried away. In fact, I'd venture so far as to say it's not very safe to create illusions about people in our regular lives. But what about the periphery characters? The hot baristas, mysterious brothers of friends who live in different states, divorced dads who occasionally banter with you at the coffee shop. When it comes to these types, we should daydream away.

Fantasy is ingrained in us. It’s why we read books like The Lord of the Rings and The Hunger Games, to escape what can sometimes feel like the humdrum monotony of our lives. A little real life character creation when cautiously crafted can be a very delightful indulgence.

I have to admit that I’ve already begun story boarding my summer crushes now. Here’s hoping they don’t ask me out and ruin it all.

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