The Daily Tar Heel
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The Daily Tar Heel

Do you remember your first crush?

I had a late-night talk with a friend of mine earlier this week on how to deal with her unwanted suitor. It was the usual story of a boy’s mindless love taps and the girl’s flat-out rejection.

I used the opportunity to tell her and a few of her friends about my theories on infatuations and why men and women act the way they do.

I laid out for her how to deal with her situation, simple and plain.

“Nip it in the bud,” I told her. “You’re a pretty girl. Just like Spider-Man, with great power comes great responsibility.”

She shuddered as I said it. I’m not a big fan of the recent Spider-Man sequels, either, but it’s true.

I told her that her responsibility was to break hearts as softly as possible, in as few pieces as she could — and maybe even sweep up afterward.

Love stories are sappy, unrealistic representations of the human condition. And in this naive idea, you can imagine the look on his face as she told him, “No, thanks.”

I told her not to worry about his disappointment. Through the repeated rejection of women, men are some of the most durable bags of emotion you can find. I’ve been there before, and most guys have, too.

Do you remember your very first crush? Do you also remember how awesome it was to finally confess your attraction for her?

That feeling was awesome. It happened around middle school for me. Everyone spread the gossip and had a reason to talk to you about you — an egoist’s dream. You were the talk of the school on the day you told her how you felt.

Do you remember how your first crush crushed you? How that rejection was like a treacherous Cupid shooting a canister of napalm at you?

Most of us, at least for the people like me who don’t know when to shut up, had our first crushes blow up on us. We were young, inexperienced and stupid. From the wreckage, we learned more about ourselves than we could have ever learned had we kept our secrets and remained, onlooking, in the safety of our comfort zones.

Emotional maturity is based on trial and error. If you don’t try and make mistakes, you won’t learn. Not dating around and waiting for a knight-in-shining-armor is like not doing the homework for a class: Don’t expect to do well on the tests. You can’t succeed if you don’t do the work.

A few girls I talked to think they know what they want. Some of these girls are even willing to hold out until they find him. But how do they know when they find him, if they’ve never emotionally invested in a man? I think they’re waiting for Ryan Gosling to ride up on horseback and sweep them off their feet. It’s as if they’re saying, “Unless you pick me up and plop me on the back of your horse, I’m busy Friday night.”

So throw a napalm canister at a man every time he has an empathetic feeling. We learn from negative reinforcement. We have been conditioned to not show emotion from an early age. Our fathers always told us not to, schoolyard crushes showed us not to and then here we are today repeating the process, still.

But the cause of our different attitudes toward emotion are caused by the same idea. Maybe we’re all just too in love with love.

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