Ask Gayle is a weekly column in which New York Times bestselling author Gayle Forman answers fan questions about love, life, and everything in between! Submit a question anonymously via our Ask box. Today’s question is:
There’s this boy who I’m in love with. He’s the only thing I think about. I’ve known him since we were little kids and I’ve always felt these feelings. I told him how I felt, but he just sees me as his ”little sister.” He joined the Marines and I miss him like crazy. I tried to move on, but I can’t. Do you have any advice?
In college, I spent a brief stint pre-med, and took a bunch of chemistry classes. I’ve forgotten pretty much everything from those days, but I remember at one point, a discussion going theoretical and a professor talking about how “being in love” was all brain chemistry. Heart-racing, pillow-punching, giddiness, goofy-smile-on-the face, lust: It was just your body flooding with neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine. Sometimes, it felt amazing. Except when it wasn’t reciprocated, and then it felt terrible. In Lauren Oliver’s book Delirium, she creates a dystopian society in which love is an outlawed disease “cured” by a lobotomy-like operation. She said she got the idea because being in love sometimes felt like being sick. Ain’t that the truth?
Are you in love? Or infatuated? Biochemically speaking, I’m not sure there’s much difference. Your body probably reacts the same way, and it feels the same way. The thing that makes something “in love,” in my book, is reciprocation. Because I don’t know that you can truly fall in love with someone if he or she is not falling in love with you. Part of falling in love is opening yourself up to another person, and that person doing the same. It’s taking down the walls, exposing vulnerabilities. You can’t do that with someone who sees you as a “little sister.” By the way, in case it’s not clear, guy translation for “I see you as a little sister” is “I don’t ever see myself having sex with you.”
This isn’t to say what you’re feeling isn’t valid. See above info about neurotransmitters. But given your guy has a.) told you he doesn’t feel that way and b.) moved away to join the Marines, it seems pretty clear to me that a romantic relationship between the two of you is not in the cards.
How do you move on? There’s no easy answer to that. Sometimes, crushes just need to peter out and no amount of rationalization or common-sense advice from YA novelists can hasten the process. You just need to ride it out. That said, I think it will probably help if you can get yourself to stop thinking about your Marine all the time and transfer some of that energy onto something else. And no, I’m not going to say you should focus on your trig homework, because while I’m an adult, I’m not stupid!
When I was younger, the best antidote to a go-nowhere crush for me was always a new anything-might-happen crush. A new crush is glorious. It’s all possibility. All that time to figure out bell schedules and say hi and analyze every single conversation or text. All that time to get lost in your imagination with delicious what-ifs (excellent practice for becoming a writer; see, there are practical uses here).
And if that one doesn’t work, crush on someone else. You can even crush on multiple people at once. There will be no crush-slut-shaming here.
Want to submit a question to Ask Gayle? Drop your question anonymously in our Ask box! Check out previous Ask Gayle columns here.
Find out more about Gayle on her website, follow her on Twitter and Tumblr, and become a fan of Just One Day and Just One Year on Facebook, where you can read a 13-chapter sample of JUST ONE DAY and see daily photos from Gayle’s travels around the world!