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The Taxonomy of Crushes

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Recently I tweeted about a funny guy crush, this being a crush on a funny guy.

“What other kind is there?”

this man demanded, daring me to write a blogpost about it. So here’s presenting the taxonomy of crushes.

Disclaimer: This is a work in progress and not comprehensive.

Type 1: The Normal Crush

This crush happens as a result of a steady diet of fairytales, romcoms and heavy doses of parental pressure to get married. The crushee may be:

  • Adarsh Bharatiya nari: Cooks well, prays, respects elders and looks bewildered when confronted by said crusher
  • A Good boy: Works for a prestigious company, respects elders and looks bewildered when confronted by said crusher

Type 2: The Refinement of Tastes Crush

This crush happens when the crusher is a bit older and has a sense of what he/she likes. Alternately this crush could happen early and set the tone for future crushes in his/her life. The crushee may be:

  • Funny man: This crush specifically occurs because the crusher is laughing hard and mistakes the surge of ‘happy’ chemicals to the brain, for love. That, plus a man on stage is hawt.
  • Independent woman: This crush may occur because the crusher unconsciously believes crushee will take care of him, the way mama did.

Type 3: Inaccessible Crushes

This crush happens because the crusher experiences a distance from the crushee and mistakes ensuing disappointment for affection. The crushee may be:

  • Hot Guy: Chiseled cheekbones, firm butt, broad shoulders – these always belong to a stranger who inhabits a different world from yours (usually a place of male facials, assistant directors and auditions). As crusher, you have nothing to say to him; you don’t have to. He is an object of beauty. Enjoy him.
  • The Celebrity: See above and add that they’re only ever visible on a digital screen. For the snooty intellectuals among you, your version spews words only on the digital screen or occasionally on paper (you old-fashioned thing).
  • Teacher/Boss: How kinky of you, you authority-loving crusher!

Type 4, Level 1: Forbidden Crushes

This crush happens because the crusher has been told to stay away from the crushee and confuses curiosity/rebellion for interest. The crushee may be:

  • Married: Specimens of this type surface ONLY after marriage (their marriage, that is). Maybe they were born married. But they’re cool, good-looking, loyal and….attached.
  • Partner/Ex of friend: Take the above and add an extra knife through your heart, because he’s married or in a relationship with your best friend. Now, even if they don’t work out, you’ll never be able to hit on him because he’ll become your friend’s ex.
  • Family member crush: Cousins, uncles (or aunts)….namely every member of the family tree except your own parents. Why the last disclaimer, you ask? Because that’s not a crush, that’s Oedipus and Elektra.

Type 4, Level 2: Bad idea Crushes

This crush happens because the crusher tells himself/herself to stay away from the crushee, has developed mild split personality disorder on account of excessive self-restraint and begins rebelling against himself/herself, thus confusing it all for interest. (see Type 4, Level 1 for an earlier stage of devolution). The crushee may be:

  • Frenemy: You *hate* them. You want to tear them apart. You want to sink poisonous fangs into them and crunch their bones. And umm…maybe you want to do them. Sigh, the drama of it.
  • Friend: NononononoABSOLUTELYNO! your mind is screaming. This is the stuff of romcoms. And regretful memories years later that began with ‘We used to be friends until umm…’. Beer should not be mixed with tequila or vodka.
  • Friend’s crush: BFFs share everything, don’t they? Not the man, uh uh. Keep your thoughts to yourself. Or bid your friendship goodbye.

Type 5: ‘WTF just happened?’ Crushes

This crush happens because life is random.

  • Hormone overdrive crush: Women can blame this on PMS (post and pre) and the period. Men blame this on, well, being men. *Shrug* It happens, that’s all.
  • Same sex crush (if you’re straight, the other way if you are): You were checking that girl out! Admit it, you have a man-crush. You’re left wondering what part fits where. Don’t bother. It’ll pass before you figure it out.
  • Sudden crush on familiar, mundane person: Hollywood could earn a third of their romcom revenues from this one situation alone. Cue a bright spotlight or sunlight that mysteriously shines only on one person in the entire street. They’re just saying hi back to you. Why are they shining so brightly? Maybe it’s just too much white balance or maybe they fell into a fairness cream ad.

Type 6, Level 1: Social Media Crushes

This crush happens because the crushers don’t get out enough, thus experiencing Vitamin D deficiency, which messes up their emotion-rationale processing system. The crushee is:

  • A Display Picture: The reason women’s profile picture changes get SO many likes is that women have figured out way ahead of men what their best angles, their most come-hither looks and flattering poses are. Men can do it too. Really, I’ve had dozens of DP crushes.
  • Tweets: Maybe you have to be a word lover for this but don’t you just lurrve, lurrve, lurrve some people’s tweets? Each new pearl-of-wisdom/wisecrack/random reflection brings on a fresh surge of happy chemical in your brain. For the non-verbally inclined, there’s always Instagram, Imgur, Flickr and Vimeo.

Type 6, Level 2: Ulta Crushes a.k.a. Backward Crushes

This crush happens because the crushers have reached the ultimate urbane lifestyle and are about to implode Fight Club style. (see Type 6, Level 2 for earlier stage in devolution). The crusher becomes inordinately obsessed with the attention of people who already provide him/her attention and mistakes this for attraction. The crushee may be:

  • Commenter/Liker: The reverse social media trail has been followed up; the fantasy is complete. Being liked is addictive; you want to be liked more and you like them for liking you.
  • Secret Santa: (This, I heard on the social media) They’re sending you gifts! How many crushes do that in real life???
  • Service Provider: He fixed your internet connection when it was down. She served you just what you were hoping for, in your dabba, twice last week. They’re always there! *Sigh* Isn’t that the stuff of happily-ever-after?

* Image courtesy stockimages on FreeDigitalPhotos.

On Being ‘In Like’ With Someone

It’s not love. At least, not yet. It could be, though. It’s a possibility. A probability? No idea.

It’s more than just friendship. In fact, in all likelihood, you haven’t known each other long enough or well enough to call each other good friends.

But there’s something that’s like closeness. And yet it’s not. It’s the joyful discovery of how much you have in common with them, when such discoveries are commonplace to the point of mundane with your actual friends.

There’s what just stops short of flirtation. The politeness and interest that you never experience with people who are close to you. But also the chilled-outness and relaxed vibe that you don’t usually enjoy with someone you’re flirting with. You look at the their face in a photograph that has other people in it and you say,

“This one’s nice. You..umm….look good.”

If you have common friends, you carefully fall silent with their name gets mentioned and feign nonchalance or indifference. When pushed, you say (quite truthfully) that you really don’t know that much about them.

Is it one-sided, you wonder. Is it even a thing, you start to think. And I’m here to say that it is. Hormones are responsible for the heightened moods you feel when you’re around them. That and if you, like me, enjoy conversations, the highs of shared ideas (and lows of boredom with other people, when they aren’t around). It’s the fascination of newness, the sheer entertainment of discovering the unknown. I wouldn’t call it lust, just yet. But it’s a glimmer of interest, a flicker of attraction, that could become more if fanned and nurtured just right. Chemistry and physics working out to make biology interesting.

It’s fun. It is the best thing about meeting new people, the possibility that you could fall in like with them. Enjoy it. The dangers of lust and the fearfulness of love come later.

Can we please stop calling it ‘dating’ because Indians don’t do that word

holding hands - age 10, and age 8

holding hands – age 10, and age 8 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

No, we don’t.

We claim kinship to members of the opposite sex, exchange gifts on a designated day of the year and occasionally append a ‘bhaiyya’ or ‘didi’ to their names. We hang around in bunches when we’re in college and pretend we’re not specifically there for one person. When Facebook decides that India is a big market, they’ll probably add ‘is rakhi brother/sister of’ to their relationship options.

I’m confused. I straddle two worlds, one that recognizes and lives in the above references. The other whose daily relationship landscape includes hooking up, one-night stands, living in, asking out and multiple relationships. Where does someone who lives in both worlds at once stand and what is our language for it?

This new, urban India I represent, it has an oft-used passport, it’s on Season 6 of HIMYM (even knows what that stands for) and has a favorite browser and smartphone app. But it also has a life that’s kept separate (even secret) from family, consumes Bollywood-bedecked archaic rituals and is petrified of talking about sex (only talking about it, not doing it).

Attraction – should it be acknowledged or not? We can’t say. We’re simultaneously cool and appropriate.

We don’t live under strict rules of interaction with the opposite sex (though many of us were brought up with those in childhood and well into our adolescence). We’re allowed to hang out, even solo and be friends with the opposite sex. But we don’t know how to differentiate between the friendly interactions and the ones with a definite romantic/sexual motive.

I seem to often err on this. I’m friendly and approachable so conversations, interactions and associations abound. Sometimes lines get crossed, motives are misunderstood and feelings are hurt. Relationships and conversations are complex, this is true. But we don’t even have a language for broadly distinguishing what might be what.

We need an India-friendly way of saying “I’m interested in you but if you’re not interested or single, don’t worry, I’m not weird.” Subsequently we’ll also need an India-friendly way of saying, “No, thanks. That’s not possible. But it’s okay. We’re just two human beings and we’re alright.” And until then, ‘friends’ doesn’t cut it and ‘dating’? That’s just plain foreign.

India's Paradox: Thriving Press, Stifling Inte...

India’s Paradox: Thriving Press, Stifling Internet? (Photo credit: World Economic Forum)

You Can’t Hurry Love…Or A Man!

Phil Collins tells me that,

“You can’t hurry love, you just have to wait. Love don’t come easy, it’s a game of give and take.”

A friend’s mother imparts the following wisdom on men and marriage,

“Don’t expect any kind of sense for about 3 years. After that they kind of settle down.”

PATIENCE is a virtue, apparently a prized one for a woman. Me? I never met a man who didn’t make me, within hours, want to bang my head on the wall. Irrespective of how much I liked him. I think men are like that. Born to annoy.

How does thou annoy me? Let’s count. (In no particular order of priority, they’re all equally irksome)

  • Stubbornness
  • Bird-watching
  • Commitment-phobia
  • Juvenile jokes (toilet humour, anyone?)
  • Bad taste in clothes, furniture, colors, everything!
  • Complete cluelessness about the concept of ‘Conversation’
  • Hormone surges (okay, cross that, it isn’t always a problem)
  • EEEEEEGO (with a huge, big, monstrous, mammoth of an E)
  • Mixed-up priorities (“Let’s go watch the match now!”, “Why do you need to shop again?”)
  • The gall to comment on my taste (“Haha, your brown lipstick looks like you’ve eaten mud!”)

Phewwww..*Deeeeep breath* I think I’m forgetting. I’ve never been high on patience anyway. Some day, some day, some day I’ll learn to tolerate a man being a man. And not keep looking into those starry-eyes and asking,

“Okay, have we grown-up as yet?”

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An earlier version is here. A version is also posted at Yahoo! Real Beauty.

The SmartyPants Fetish

I have a new crush. This is Sheldon Cooper of The Big Bang Theory. Of course I’ve read everything that Wikipedia has to say about him, about the series, about what a breakout character is and what ‘experts’ have surmised about his supposed autistic tendencies.

Now this doesn’t really feel either new or unusual to me. One of my earliest crushes after all, was Jupiter Jones of The Three Investigators. Jupe ‘Baby Fatso’ was a short, stocky know-it-all and strangely devoid of the inadequacies that plague teenage boys. Awesomeness.

I’ve sought to explain this earlier as an Elektra syndrome for men in spectacles. I’ve thought at length about the merit of intelligence as a key point on the list of appealing male attributes. I’ve referred to intellectual stimulation, personal growth and entertainment all in one.

I have even contemplating writing a short story, a romance set in a bookshop. Yes, of course I know it’s a great place to check out books..and umm, their readers.

And now I come upon this site. I actually chanced on an article that talked about why this blog might appeal to women. And then I turned up at the blog itself. To my surprise, relief and mirth, Hot Guys Reading Books is just that. Candid shots of men who are reading. I’m clicking through the archives as I wait for this post to save.

And I’m given to wondering – do I need to explain why I like what I do? Have you ever asked a guy why he prefers blondes? Or within the Indian context, women with long hair? Does anyone seek to understand the various fetishes and quirks that different men find appealing?

I knew a guy who only liked Alpha females. And another one who would never date a woman unless she was Fair n’ Lovely. How about the one that was promptly turned off by women who sat on bikes astride when they were wearing salwar-kameezes? He thought it looked sluttish. Well, there’s no accounting for tastes. And there’s no reason to, I think.

Which is why I’m not going to explain my geekboy obsessions. There’s a world of reading men for me to check up on! (This one I particularly like. It’s funny and smart all in one. Oh okay, I’ll stop thinking and go back to looking!)

Should The Girl Ask The Guy Out?

It’s a question I posed to a mixed group of friends. The women were all united in their belief that it didn’t make sense to do so. Most men (and this is an opinion I share) aren’t used to the concept of someone else taking the romantic initiative. And even if there is the possibility of a relationship, their absolute bewilderment over the way the situation happens could very well ruin it. The male ego just doesn’t permit such a relationship, even if there is interest.

The only trouble is when a woman likes a guy, it’s a real pain in the ass to sit around waiting for him to ask her out. Ask any woman about the frustration of watching a guy eye you all evening, start to walk towards you and then stop and turn back. It’s an ARRRRGGGGGHH situation.

The men on the other hand were largely open to the idea. I was quite surprised to hear the things that some of them said,

“It would be really nice to have the girl take the initiative for a change.”

“Guys like compliments and receiving attention too.”

“I’m hopeless at setting up the whole romantic scenario. It would be so great if she’d take charge of that.”

And finally the clinching deal for their side was a male friend who had just announced that he was getting engaged.

“My fiancé proposed to me.”

Now honestly, I think it’s wise to try something out before passing a judgement on it. So yes, I have asked a guy out as well. Not once, several times. It was an enlightening experience.

For starters, it’s horribly nerve-tangling. The worrying about how to ask, where to go, what to do and what the other person will think of you. I felt a rush of sympathy for all the men who had summoned up the nerve to ever express an interest in me. It does take a lot of courage and planning.

The one thing that surprised me was how the entire effort consumed me. Like I told a friend,

“The thrill of the chase is something I could get used to. The not-knowing, even the slight panic…there’s a heady high attached to it.”

I must also add that being in the driving seat, so to speak, being the one bringing together the whole production somehow automatically switched me into a place of only thinking about the absolutely necessary. A friend of mine was goading me into taking things to a more serious level. I thought about it and I surprised myself by saying,

“When you ask someone for a commitment, you are also saying that you’re ready to commit yourself. I’m not sure yet if that’s the case. I just want to see where this goes for now.”

As I said it, I knew I sounded exactly like a guy. And yet, I wasn’t being commitment-phobic, I wasn’t planning on two-timing and I wasn’t ‘in it for the ride’. I really, honestly didn’t know where things were going and having taken up the responsibility to take it somewhere, I just wanted to take it slowly.

The one thing that stands out is that the person who takes the initiative is definitely setting himself (or herself) up for the possibility of rejection…but even more subtly he or she is saying yes to being in a place of uncertainty for at least some time.

Since I started telling a story, I should tell you the end. The man in question is involved with someone else, a fact that I discovered several weeks later and then too only on pushing him. That can happen. He says he wasn’t sure if it was dates or just friendly meetings. What the truth is, is anyone’s guess. Should one take the risk of being stood up or humiliated? There’s no answer to that, except that guys do it all the time (take the risk I mean, not just what this guy did).

As I see it, being the woman taking charge means one is playing an unusual role and there’s ample scope to be misunderstood. If the guy is a jerk, he could easily use the situation for maximum benefit and get a lot out of the girl without giving her anything back. But then again, falling in love is always a risk, every time, in every single situation. Besides the reverse is probably equally true, especially in today’s day and age. A woman can just as easily free-ride on a guy’s attentions and then walk away without a second thought.

So at the end I’m inclined to say that if you have the nerve for it, don’t let social norms stop you. If you’re a guy who agrees with what my male friends said, try not to be an ass or a jerk about it. In the long run, it’ll encourage more women to take the initiative and things will only get easier and pleasanter for you. If like me, you’re a woman who can’t stand to sit around looking pretty and waiting to be asked out, go right into the chase. Just keep your band-aids and chocolates and close friends about. Just in case.

The Advocate For Cheating & Other Married Men

In my 10-year-dating life, I’ve seen a number of different kinds of relationships and dates, which have given rise to the Character Sketches. Now I come up against yet another one – The Married Man.

First and foremost, I’d like to say that I have a lot of respect for the institution of marriage, and indeed, no less for arranged marriages. My parents had an arranged marriage and they celebrated their 31st wedding anniversary this year. If you ask then, why I’m not married, well it is simply because I haven’t found anyone I can have that kind of a relationship with, yet.

It is a fact that the social environment is very different today than the one that my parents met and and started their relationship in. Neither mum nor dad really have independent friend circles, let alone know too many single people of their generation. I belong to several social circuits that include couples, some where I’m friends with the guy, some with the girl.

Friendships themselves have changed. While my parents would never even consider introducing a flirtatious note into their discussions with their social groups, my generation itself seems to be a flirty one. Sex, attraction, relationship are all a little too ‘out there’ if you ask me. Romance, privacy and intimacy have been sacrificed to free expression, enhanced comfort zones and devil-may-carishness. Okay, I’m getting preachy. I enjoy being a part of this world, it works for me. But I think in an attempt to get it all out there, we’ve meandered so far into the grey that we may have lost sight of black and white.

Now here’s the thing. Being as I am, a single woman who’s also friendly and approachable, I find my social circuit quite expansive and complex. The Married Man is only one of those many dark alleys in this complex terrain. How do I treat him? If he has been a friend before he acquired the tag, then the situation is relatively simpler. I take heed of how his wife feels about his women friends and our friendship accordingly moves along or away. That’s how much I respect marriage…enough to think that a spouse does have the right to deliberately or inadvertently alter the nature of one’s other relationships.

How about if the Married Man is someone I’ve met later? Do I treat him like I treat all the other guys? The flirtatious tone does need to be dropped, not everyone gets that it’s part of my personality and has little to do with the person I speak to. But what about when the guy is flirting with me? And before you jump to the defense of poor mankind and how they’re all just misunderstood souls and not every man is like that, let me just say I’ve been propositioned, flirted with and pursued by a sizeable number of married men too.

It’s not the fact that they’re married and flirting with me that shocks me so much. It is the cool rationale that they feed into it. There’s the occasional ‘my wife and I don’t seem to be in love really’ bugger who hasn’t figured out that I never fall for the crybaby sop types. Then there’s the blatant ‘So?’ which at least I can counter with an equally blatant ‘So I’m not interested.’ with zero fear of hurting the guy’s seemingly non-existant sensitivity. And then there is the last one, the Advocate. I call him thus not on account of his profession (he could be a doctor or a mechanic for as much as it matters). He’s the best advocate ever, for cheating and he has his facts and evidence on hand. The jury may very well be his..it’s tempting to say the least.

This guy may be a Male Slut, he may be a charmer or he may not. The point is he has an almost breakproof logic about why it is perfectly legitimate, reasonable and valid to commit what I cannot think of as anything but adultery. There is the elaborately constructed dialogue over today’s moving social order liberally spiced with statistics about divorce rates, paternity suits and pre-nuptial agreements. There are references to Freud, Darwin and Einstein in a discussion about people’s relationships. There is the sweeping confidence that makes you alternately wonder whether you’re being old-fashioned and how he can be so cold and hot at the same time.

I’ve been flattered, appalled and insulted by offers of this type. And finally I come out of the fire of sin and temptation, I believe, unsullied. The last time I was made to endure one of these conversations, I finally said,

I don’t want to hear about whether the institution of marriage is valid anymore or not. It has sanctity for me because I say it does.

The thing that really bothers me is the fact that I seem to be carrying the onus of fulfilment of committment, of the guy to his wife. There is of course no denying that if I say no, he’ll just take his interest elsewhere. And what’s more, if I were to say yes, it would just fall on my lot to be branded that horrible name – the other woman, the one that messes with married men. And finally, it is the knowledge that it isn’t so much fear of social stigma that makes me say no, I say no because it doesn’t feel right.

It’s not my fault he got hitched too early or to the wrong person or for the wrong reasons. It’s not my problem that he has made a commitment that he doesn’t want to honor. And it’s never going to be ‘just sex’ for me. Or even if it is, ‘just sex’ doesn’t happen with someone who has made a public vow to not have sex with anyone other than the person he married.

Now let’s pull back a few steps. The above is when it reaches that critical point of deciding which way a friendship is going to go – platonic or otherwise. But how about that vast, grey area before that? Is it okay to watch a movie with a guy friend who just happens to be married? Is it okay to meet him for dinner? Coffee at midnight? Don’t these smack of dating?

The old ‘it is the intention that matters’ doesn’t hold. That’s not what real life is about. Real life is about human beings who experience attraction and relationship in fluctuating, varying tones every minute. And in a gray world, sometimes you have nothing but your own stubbornness to carry you through the tide (even if you’re all by yourself at the end of it).

I don’t have any answers and truth be told, I’m not looking for any. But I am certainly wondering if any of you has experienced what I’m talking about, from within the marriage or from the outside, like I have. And what do you have to say about it?

ssp of August 1, 2009

History

These things never go away.
If there has ever been history, it will show even if you are in the same room.

Yes, very dramatic. And perhaps romantic. Heartening, even to some.

But reality seems to indicate otherwise. Attraction, like everything else, is impermanent. Or perhaps I’m only thinking of fancy and not real lust.

And yet, the novelty is so much a part of the attraction, the first time round…I often wonder what keeps couples together after years and years and years. Sure, there is the comfort and caring and real depth of a good relationship. But attraction?

And if you don’t stay a couple and meet several years and other people later, is it a given that things wouldn’t have changed? I don’t think so. People change, times change, tastes change too. So who knows, a re-union could be a real re-union…or just a history lesson. I’ll lay my chances on the latter.

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A version is posted on Yahoo! Real Beauty.

Spec-tacularly mad

I have a weakness for men in spectacles.

Maybe I associate that with intelligence. Maybe its my own Electra Syndrome playing out. But every single man I’ve ever dated has worn spectacles.

Does that mean I only attract men with poor sight? Sheesh…wonders that does to my ego, but I’ll shrug that off, I only said I’m attracted to these men…those who find me attractive may be a different breed altogether (which may explain the disasters in my love life).

Let’s think…were they all near-sighted or far-sighted? Haw…my internal cynic guffaws, they were all self-sighted…with a universe that stopped a few milimeteres from their noses. But seriously…I have no clue. Perhaps I should find out? Let’s see, I could probably compose a mail…

Dearly beloved Ex-

We are gathered here today to celebrate the death of a relationship that never should have been in the first place….errrm….

How are you doing? Are you as annoying as ever or have you managed to land a girl as yet? On second thoughts, don’t answer that.

Do you still wear spectacles? Or did I manage to cure you of whatever sight defects you had then? Or…horror of horrors…have you defected to those bizarre things called contact lenses? Yurrrgggh…I don’t even want to acknowledge you then, stranger.

But wait, come back and tell me…were you short-sighted or long-sighted when we were together? Huh? Huh? Huh?

Only a little nostalgic,
IdeaSmith

Yes, that might get them all started on a drive to mail me to the loony-bin. And then again, my madness never deterred anyone from dating me. (One guy used to introduce me as “This is Ideasmith; she’s mad.”)

I guess the bespectacled ones do like my madness. It’s probably a case of a mad professor and his beautiful alien. 🙂

More stereotyping

I was a trifle disappointed that this post (lying in my subconscious for over a year and in my drafts box for a few days) got so few comments. Mostly from women….and what they said was surprising. There was one man and what he said was surprising too.

Should I conclude that men are, in general, such egoistic creatures that they only enjoy reading about themselves? Or that they are too inhibited to admit that they enjoy the stimulation provided by semi-lesbian fantasies? Hmm…

Desiblogging classifies me as Bisexual…..aurrrgggghhhh….so much for trying to shatter the oldest stereotype in the world!! All I do is get slotted into another one. And coming out? Uh, no…I just haven’t had a chance to talk about it before.

I was most aghast and then amused when I looked at the sidebar and it looked like a Blogsphere Playboy-type of site. Still though, I like the title of Desi Devil’s post and certainly have no issues with the rating on the ‘Wicked Meter’!

So does that make me a tease, Devil?

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