Stupid Cupid: the art of overthinking

Image courtesy of The New Yorker

In the spirit of Valentine's Day here’s a story about the last time I messed with “love”.

The high street was busy, I’m pretty sure it was a Saturday night. I was sitting outside this pub, I’d been waiting for her for 20 minutes – I was kind of annoyed, we were going to be late to a party. As I quietly ranted to myself she appeared in the crowd. There she stood with her annoyingly perfect smile and I realised, there I was, standing up, grinning like an idiot. It was all downhill from there.

To preface the rest of this article: I have perfected the art of over thinking (I’m a philosophy student) and all the things I went through, I unleashed upon myself.

At the time, I was studying The Philosophy of Love which I found pretty intense. For one of our lectures we had to read an excerpt from Kierkegaard’s Fear and Trembling, and it was basically about this knight who falls in love with a princess that he could probably never be with. To me, the excerpt seemed to suggest that there was nobility in unrequited love, honour in committing to a love that may never be fulfilled. As I was reading it I thought to myself: I walk around with an umbrella, which is pretty much a sword, and I’m one of the most noble people I know. Holy shit. I’m the knight! The universe is talking to me and it is my duty to listen, so I decided I was going to do what the knight did in the story. I was going to allow love to invade my every thought, intertwine itself in the fabric of my being.

This was a terrible, terrible idea. It was a terrible idea because I had no idea what love was and I ended up allowing myself to indulge in my feelings and get lost in a fantasy. I realise now that I was never really in “love” with her, I was in “love” with this idea of her, this idea of us. I would focus on things that affirmed the image of her I had in my head and ignored the very real things that proved otherwise. I looked at life through rose-tinted glasses and in doing so never really got to know her.

There were moments though where I’d see through the clouds of my infatuation and witness reality. These moments, I kid you not, triggered genuine panic attacks. By letting love consume me it consumed my world – to realise I was fabricating things I thought were real was terrifying. This went on for months. MONTHS. I could literally feel my mind unravel. Love had gone from bright pinks and warm reds to deep blues and stark blacks. It was chaos.

Needless to say, it didn’t end well. But after a lot of drinking, a lot of eating, and a lot of crying I have been cured of this intoxication. With some much-needed distance I have learnt the error of my ways. Hopefully things will go a bit better next time.

I’m almost happy to be spending Valentine's single. Almost.

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First published in 1965, InQuire is the University of Kent student newspaper.

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