I'm in Love...with Someone Who Doesn't Exist
I fall in love with fictional characters a lot. It’s a problem. It must be unhealthy. I should probably see a professional about this. But I don’t want to, because I love falling in love. The only problem with this kind of love is that it is very one-sided, because these people don’t technically “exist.” They’re “not real” as the pests I call friends continue to remind me. Here's the problem with my romantic entanglements…they are figments of someone else’s imagination.
My first love was this guy Charlie Pace on the show Lost. He was a broody little drug addict turned family man and hero. From heroin to hero! That's the kind of character development that gets me going. Spoiler alert, he dies big time. So not only was I in love with a fictional character, I was in love with a dead man who wasn’t even real. I can't exactly blame our relationship not working on bad timing. When he died on the show, I cried for hours. I splayed out dramatically on the floor by my dad’s feet as he chuckled at my distress. “You don’t understand, my pain is real!” I yelled at him, heart full of angst.
I’ve fallen in love with many brooding men over the years. I’ve loved men from Twilight, Game of Thrones, and The Walking Dead. I can’t even love a guy in a realistic realm! They are vampires or dead men or men fighting dead men. Why can’t I be into a normal dude with a baseball cap, or something? Maybe I’m being melodramatic—OK, I obviously am—but it is a great sadness in my life that these people are not real. The most recent (and most real) love is the one and only Daryl Dixon from The Walking Dead. An emotionally complex redneck that only became a good man in the context of the Zombie Apocalypse. That’s what I’m talking about. He also happens to be hot.
"How stupid am I that I like someone who doesn’t even exist?" I ask myself. When I find out a friend of mine likes a show I like, I internally shout at myself to play it cool. Don’t show how much you know about this character. Don’t reveal how many message boards you’ve sleuthed as “anonymous.” I find myself feeling jealous when someone else likes the character I love.
And when I feel that telltale bubble of jealousy, I have to remind myself to take a step back. They don’t exist! Even as I write this, I feel like a loon. Why do I let myself become so invested in a fictional character? And I do become invested. I will truly grieve if (and often when) they die. I fight the urge to wear all black for a month. Maybe I am crazy (I totally am), but I’ve stopped fighting the connection I feel with these characters.
My dad finds it sweet that I choke back tears every time one of them has an emotional moment on screen. He thinks it's because I care so deeply about people that I can’t help but feel for the fake ones, too. To anyone else who falls in love with fictional men, you’re not alone! You probably already know that. In fact, we’ve probably already talked on a message board, somewhere in the depths of the internet. To the girls (and boys) who become enamored with these make-believe men, keep letting yourself. Let your heart feel it, cause your heart feels what it feels, and that’s beautiful. As long as you don’t stalk the actors or anything.
By Lael O'Shaughnessy, 21