Why it was easiest to fall in “love” at 15

Trees dancing in the moonlight in Hopewell, NJ. The two on the left are waltzing. The ballerinas on the right share a mid-performance kiss. 

Charlie Thompson was tall, blonde and blue-eyed. He played football, got mediocre school grades and didn’t own an SAT prep book. He only ate rice when it was drenched in soy sauce from a take-out container. He watched Family Guy. He drove a truck.

In short, he epitomized the American boy my immigrant parents feared would inevitably date their Korean daughter.

Thinking about him now, I doubt we’d have much in common today. But I don’t think I’ve ever been more in love than I was with Charlie Thompson at age 15.

It wasn’t just the hormones. Maybe it was the insecurity of being an adolescent — the discomfort of budding curves, waking up to a pimply reflection –that made it so easy to fall in love with someone else. It was soothing to know someone found me attractive and desirable when I, for some reason, could not.

“We accept the love we deserve.” Wrong.

It’s easiest to fall in love when you actively seek affection and validation. We accept the love we need. A narcissist is notorious for being a player, for bouncing between partners, often juggling several at the same time. When you’re so in love with yourself, you refuse to compromise for others. You can’t be selfish and be in love.

My freshman year of college, I was busy doing so many other things for myself, learning to live on my own, meeting new friends, getting a taste of “collegiate” activities like acapella and ultimate frisbee. I had no time and no need for a significant other. My high school boyfriend’s “love” became another commitment, no, more like a distraction. I felt more confident to do things without him. I didn’t have time for this. I didn’t need this. So I fled.

So maybe what I felt for Charlie Thompson was not love at all, but a twisted validation of my self-worth. Maybe my “love” for him came from his “love” for me; it was simply a souvenir of conquest, like Lt. Raine’s collection of Nazi scalps in Inglorious Basterds. Heh.

This post ended in a very different place than I thought.




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