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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.

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The Married Male Friend

It is a fact that the social environment is very different today than the one in which my parents met and started their relationship. 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. I do 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.

Being as I am, an independent woman who’s also friendly and approachable, I find my social circuit quite expansive and complex. The Married Male Friend is only one of those many dark alleys in this complex terrain. How do I treat him?

If he was a friend before he acquired the ‘married’ label, 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.

How about if the Married Man is someone I’ve met later? Do I treat him like I treat all the other guys? The friendly-flirtatious tone does need to be dropped, no matter how innocent. But what about when the guy is flirting with me? Much to my alarm, I’m frequently propositioned, flirted with and pursued by married men. It’s not just 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.

I’m not referring to the liars who feign their single status. Nor even the occasional ‘my wife and I are not really in love’ guy trying the sympathy routine.

There is another type of man who is not just unabashed about his cheating but actually derives confidence from it. This man usually has a breakproof logic about why it is legitimate, reasonable and valid to commit 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.

He camouflages these in ‘normal’ intellectual conversations, the kind that we often get into with anybody intelligent. But the flirtatious, slightly dangerous tones lace every word. It’s hard to extricate oneself from such a situation. Does one slap a man who has just been talking to you, who hasn’t said anything explicitly offensive? The last time I got roped into one such talk, I found myself plaintively protesting,

“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.”

I hated how whiny that sounded and how powerless that made me feel. Furthermore, it bothers me is that I (an outsider to that marriage) seem to be carrying the onus of fulfillment of commitment. When I say no, this man just takes his interest elsewhere. And whatever woman chooses to say yes, will be branded that horrible name – the Other Woman, the one that messes with married men. This man knows this fact and takes full advantage of it.

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? How do you know what’s appropriate and what’s not? Where does normal friendliness end and the reek of infidelity begin? 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? But is it fair to treat a married friend differently from an unmarried one?

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. The world has gone so grey, sometimes I miss the black-and-white times when everything was clearer.

~O~O~O~O~O~O~

*An earlier version of this post is here. A version also appears on Yahoo! Real Beauty.

The Beta Male

I have a crush on a married man.

I’ve had enough of crushes by now to deal with them with placidity. The reason I stopped to think about this one, is that the guy in question is so different from the kind of man I’m usually attracted to.

He isn’t abnormally brilliant, isn’t a fanatic super-achiever, is not drop-dead gorgeous. He has a normal job, not-too-different ideas on books, music, movies and politics. He has some friends, is neither a loner nor a social butterfly. He loves his wife without being a slave to her and is fun enough on his own. He’s the kind of guy that it’s easy to be friends with, whether you’re a guy or a girl. He isn’t Mr.Gorgeous, not a Bad Boy or even a Pedigreed Pup. He’s just a regular guy with a regular life. While I wouldn’t go so far to call him ordinary (no one is really, when you get to know them), prima facie there’s nothing supremely extraordinary about him. In short, he’s just not an Alpha Male. Let’s call him the Beta Male.

It was Hyde who gave me this phrase while explaining the concept to me. He said that most women today were dazzled by the flashier, more visible men who invariably hurt them. And they paid no heed to the Beta Male who could be just as intelligent, charming and caring as they wanted but just wasn’t as easy to notice. Well those weren’t his exact words but I think that was the gist of it. Correct me if I’m wrong please, sir…and thank you for a great idea, it has taken me a year to understand the gravity of it.

Now coming back, I find that this is the sort of man I most likely would have overlooked (probably still do). I don’t think I’ve ever been the bitchy sort, deliberately snubbing people but well….by my own admission, indifference is the worst sort of treatment. The Beta Male is someone who has taken a few knocks and understands what it is to fail. It also makes him a little easier on other people’s flaws and also not obsessed with being Superlative, even at the cost of other people’s emotions. The Beta Male has a world bigger than himself…and hey, it’s actually quite a nice place. I know… I’ve been friends with some Beta Males and yes, they really are great people. I have seen them make mistakes, I’ve watched them fail, I’ve known them to be human beings.

Quite a drastic difference from the men I’ve dated. No wonder I see boyfriends and male friends as two separate species! They are Alpha Males and Beta Males respectively.

I allow myself a brief moment of regret while I reflect on the fact that if I had been a tad wiser in the choices of my heart I might have been a happier, much less cynical person in love today. A lot of my Beta Male friends are married, some of my girlfriends married Beta Males after having dated the Alpha Males. Is that what maturity is about? Learning to discern the gilt from what truly is precious? In that case, I salute you, women of wisdom greater than mine…and finally the hitherto unsung Beta Male. You are a better human being than I have ever been. I’ve been a trophy collector, no better than my boyfriends.

There are times when I think that your bad choices come back to haunt you. And then again, it would seem like the good choices that you never made hang around to make you realize just what an idiot you yourself are. Ah, Tantalus, you live on in each of us, everyday!

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