Boys, Butterflies, and Beyond


Love is a lot more than butterflies in our stomachs and warm feelings, yet we tend to base our dating decisions primarily–if not entirely–on feelings. Partly due to our society, and partly from the way we are wired, from the day we turn twelve and start having crushes on boys, we tend to look for certain qualities.

First, above all else, they must be attractive! Secondly, they must be “date-able:” meaning smooth-talking, charming, and flirty. And then the list gets more individualized for each person: dark hair v. blonde, athletic v. artistic, etc… I want you to do something: close your eyes and picture a celebrity crush you have – someone you’ve maybe joked about marrying. For me, it’s Channing Tatum. I have always found him so attractive–talk about the type of guy women like. Who wouldn’t have a crush on him? He’s buff, has an adorable voice, and he knows how to play the part of the guy waiting to sweep the girl off her feet. However, I would never in a thousand years date Channing Tatum. Why, you might ask?

My theory is that there are real life Channing Tatums for most of us. Our fascination with actors on screens carries over into real life, and we fan-girl over our boy of choice. It’s due to this funny thing called attraction, similar to infatuation. It leads us to say things like, “I really like him. But I know he’s not a good guy, so I could never date him.” It makes me wonder why we invest our time and thought for this kind of affection for someone. If we only have so much room in our hearts, why not try to save it for someone worthy?

As you can most likely tell, my perspective comes from my experience. For some reason, my heart has misled me more than once. There were a few guys I went out with for a few weeks here and there who weren’t the best. Some of them were great guys, but they didn’t bring out the best in me. Some of them were not great guys, and looking back it’s easy to see selfish motives in things like making physical moves early on, or putting emotional pressure on me.

At some point, I began to notice that I had a tendency to be interested in guys for more superficial reasons than not, and from there I connected the dots that the guys I was choosing were probably interested in me for the same. It became important to me to foster friendships with guys, and that became an essential credential for any potential boyfriend.

So now the big finale: I’m currently growing more in love each day with my friend who in the beginning I never thought I would date. I remember saying to my roommate freshman year “we’re both so awkward, us as a couple would be too much!” I remember thinking how he wasn’t my type, and other absurd opinions based on preconceived notions about love that I have Hollywood and social media to thank. After several months of mulling it over I eventually realized that he was the guy I always wanted to hang out with. He was the guy who brought out the version of myself that I was most proud of. He was the guy who inspired me to be better. And yet, I almost lost him because I thought I didn’t “like” him. How absurd.

He’s not perfect, but he isn’t selfish. I know that his motives aren’t selfish, because he always tells me that he wants what’s best for me, and for me to be happy. He is never pushy, and he is so respectful. I’m convinced he’s a better person than I am, and I don’t deserve him.

In my case, I had to let myself take some time to transition from thinking of him as a friend, to letting him win over my heart. I’d never liked someone like him before. Someone so good and sweet – and sometimes so incredibly nerdy and opposite of me. In the beginning, butterflies didn’t have much to do with it. The way he treated me, the fun we had together, and the type of person he was had a lot more to do with our love story.

I know everyone has his or her own unique situation, but I do think there is a universal takeaway from my story, and I do have a reason I want to share it. I made the same mistakes that I’ve since noticed a lot of girls make: going for guys for the wrong reasons, completely and blindly following attraction and charm. I would like to recommend using your head, even in matters of the heart. Remember that you have a choice in who you love, and even who you “like”. Choose wisely.

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