I recently overheard two women discussing their fantasy boyfriends over coffee. They were chatting about their favorite celebrities: analyzing their “hotness,” what they love about them, why they would make amazing boyfriends and how amazing it would be to meet them face to face.
A while back on the news, I listened to reporters praise a teenager for asking his Sports Illustrated supermodel crush (who was probably his mom’s age) to come with him to prom. How brave and courageous of him, they said. What an honorable thing to do in stepping out of his comfort zone and taking risks to engage his fantasies, they said.
To top it off, just last week I noticed the room of one of my friends’ teenage children plastered with posters of dreamy celebrities and attractive musicians staring at her each night as she dozed off to sleep.
It’s amazing how fixated we are on fantasy. So much so, that it’s almost become the norm.
We live in a society in which I’ve actually heard people claim they have literally fallen “in love” with celebrities, movie stars, porn stars and supermodels. But the problem is that they are falling in love from a distance.
There is something safe about keeping people at a distance. There is something appealing about the unknown that makes it attractive; something about the invisible that is seductive. Whether it’s the supermodel on the cover of a magazine or that guy at work who you’ve never actually talked to.
Somehow, keeping people at a distance makes us want them even more.
Because keeping people at a distance is never messy. Loving them from far away is never hard. It isn’t mixed with the reality of pain, vulnerability and selflessness; nor does it know the sacrifices of forgiveness and grace. But to really love, as C.S. Lewis says, is to be vulnerable.
So many men and women today are falling in love with a dream; falling in love with someone or something that doesn’t really exist, by taking the character of someone they don’t really know and adding the story that they find themselves living in the world of fantasy falling in love with a dream, falling in love with an idea, but ultimately falling in love with a lie.
And this isn’t just about crushing on Hollywood celebs, because fantasy can permeate so many other parts of our life.
Men and women are imprisoned within the confines of a dream whether its pornography, affairs, toxic relationships or anything else. You’ll find people stuck in a life they make up with people who don’t exist or don’t know them personally.
Fantasies in action
We’ve succumbed to a life fueled by fantasy rather than by reality.
The married man who glances at the beautiful office secretary, mentally engaging in a relationship with her, forgetting her flaws, neglecting her deficits.
The single woman, analyzing and obsessing over a man she’s hardly talked to imagining what life could be if and when—only to have her heart broken by his lack of interest.
The housewife, trapped in the fantasy and excitement of her romance novels, leaving her own reality behind instead of dealing with it.
The young woman stuck in an abusive marriage, making excuses and living for the dream of who he could be rather than acknowledging who he actually is and taking steps toward safety.
The lonely young man, spending hours every evening trapped by the pornographic images on his computer screen, growing numb to the beauty of the real woman—and of real life.
There is something provocative about living in a dream, but there is something even more paralyzing about it.
When we live in a dream, we lose sight of what’s real. We exchange our realities for something that can never actually exist. We live for what could be, and end up missing what really is. And in the end we are led into disappointment, disillusionment and destruction.
We set ourselves up for failure by seeking to find this thing that doesn’t actually exist, setting expectations that cannot be met by ourselves, much less anyone else.
When we live in a dream, we stop really living.
Though they might not be as easy as Hollywood romance, real life and real relationships are well worth the investment. With the help of God’s grace, forgiveness and selflessness they can flourish into far greater than a simple dream because they can become your glorious reality.
Close your eyes to the temptation of fantasy, and instead open your eyes to the reality of life here and now.
And if reality isn’t what you’d hoped for it to be, then make a change. Challenge yourself to learn and to grow; to forgive and mature. Deal with things in your past, face the things in your present and become the person you want to be. Don’t live a passive life, but instead create a reality you can be proud of.
Because only then are you able to truly live.
This article was originally posted at truelovedates.com.
Debra is a Licensed Professional Counselor, relationship expert, speaker and author of several books, including True Love Dates. Debra is also the creator of the popular relationship advice blog TrueLoveDates.com, reaching millions of people with the message that healthy people make healthy relationships. Connect with her on Facebook or Twitter.