By Raphael Niu (23A01A) and Sabrina Tong (23S03Q, Peer Helper)
Cover Image by Johnathan Lim (23S03M)
Your resident Aunties and Uncles are back with our Ask Aunt Agony and Uncle Upset column, this time as a collaboration between Raffles Press and Peer Helpers’ Programme (PHP)! Ever wanted to rant about that someone you just can’t stand? Overwhelmed with too many feelings? Submit your confessions to https://tinyurl.com/riadvice and we’ll give them our best shot. This column will be published at the end of every month.
how do I curb infatuations?Love-struck Lad
Dear Love-struck Lad,
Perhaps you have fallen victim to one yourself, or are asking on behalf of a friend (who has fallen in ‘love’ and doesn’t know how to get back up!) Whichever it is, the sunny high of infatuation can be thrilling and all-consuming.
You are not the only one on this roller-coaster ride. With a flurry of new OG-mates, classmates and CCA-mates in JC, we have witnessed many of our friends—‘down bad’ for a special someone—experience this same whirlwind of emotions.
Before we discuss how you could manage your infatuation, let’s ask a more fundamental question: what is an infatuation, and what exactly does it feel like?
To break down the concept, Sabrina—the science student among us—reached for the dictionary:
Infatuation, therefore, is characterised by its fervid intensity. You could be constantly thinking about this person, or feel butterflies in your stomach every time they walk past, or be inordinately worried about their impression of you.
You might even be unconsciously—or consciously—altering your behaviour as a result of your infatuation. Maybe you know your crush will go to the canteen during their break, so you make sure you’re there too in order to bump into them ‘coincidentally’ and strike up a conversation.
However, the short-lived nature of infatuation reveals how it is built on superficial foundations: physical appearances, first impressions, brief conversations. If you are smitten with someone even though you haven’t had many extended or ‘deep’ interactions with them, it is likely that your feeling is one of infatuation.
On the other hand, Raphael—an arts student—turned to a trusty metaphor: love is a flame, of which infatuation is the hottest and brightest kind. This kind of blaze cannot be sustained for long: it either settles into a calmer, steadier fire or vanishes quickly with time.
Hence, you need not worry excessively about being consumed by infatuation: it will pass. As you get to know the person better, your feelings might evolve into a deeper, more intimate kind of connection, or gradually dissipate as you begin to see them as more of a friend. Curbing infatuation, therefore, is a question of how to accelerate the evolution of these feelings into something more manageable.
Infatuation as a Malady
If your infatuation is having a detrimental effect on your academics or becoming a bit too obsessive, you might want to rein it in. How then do you swat away the pesky
infestation infatuation and calm your turbulent, swelling heart?
First, it is useful to process your feelings to discern their nature. We often talk about ‘liking someone’ in broad strokes, conflating feelings of admiration, platonic connection and romantic attraction. Hence, identifying what exactly you ‘like’ about someone can help to clarify your confusing feelings.
Some ‘infatuations’ could actually be non-romantic in nature: you could be awestruck by someone’s musical talents or intelligent insights and want them to notice you or desire a closer friendship with someone because you enjoy your conversations with them. However, if you find yourself captivated by how they look or dreaming of flirting with them, you are likely infatuated in the romantic sense.
One suggestion would be to sit down and take the time to pen a list of what you like or dislike about this particular attraction: this would allow you to take a more clear-headed, objective look at your feelings, and help you decide on whether to act on them.
If you find making lists tedious, you could talk to trusted friends about the person in question, which would allow you to gain some insight into the person’s nature and whether you should pursue a connection with them. (And they’ll probably be amused if you gush about your love interest!) But jokes aside, a different perspective will allow you to make a better-informed decision as your friend won’t be looking at your eye candy with the same rose-tinted shades.
Taking the time to understand your own feelings helps you to figure out what to do about these feelings. You might realise that you are content with admiring someone from afar or take steps to move from acquaintances to friends. You might also decide (after careful consideration, of course) that you want to initiate a relationship to deepen a romantic connection between both parties.
Alternatively, if processing your feelings is too challenging, you could try to distract yourself from the adorable charms of your beau. Spend an afternoon away from your phone and in the library revising for the upcoming test (there will always be one around the corner). Go out with your friends to play badminton or have a picnic.
Additionally, it might be helpful to identify and avoid ‘triggers’ that remind you of your crush: their Instagram posts, particular songs, specific conversation topics, or parts of the school where they frequently hang out.
It is best if you can find therapeutic activities that can soothe you when you are consumed by overwhelming emotions evoked by your infatuation: perhaps reading a book, listening to music, or going for an evening walk in the neighbourhood park. One of our friends even had a Spotify playlist for overcoming an infatuation (which has been replicated here for curious readers).
Infatuation as a Blessing
While the most intense infatuations might need to be repressed, many other crushes may not completely consume you or interfere with your daily life. Who is to say that this kind of infatuation is something you need to get rid of?
In fact, infatuation can add some spice to your boring school life (unless you don’t like mala). Besides, maybe that eye candy in your class is the only thing that can get you through your boring Econs lectures! (No hate; it’s just the first thing that came to mind.)
If you let it, infatuation can teach you a lot about yourself: the kind of people you admire, the qualities you want in a partner, and the way you handle romantic feelings. It can also be the gateway to what could be a deeply fulfilling relationship — although how to create that kind of relationship is a topic for another day.
Ultimately, it is easy to feel inundated by infatuation, but it is possible to process it and redirect your thoughts. Take comfort in the fact that it will pass, and revel in it while it lasts.
Aunt Agony and Uncle Upset
If you need anyone to talk to about any issues you might be facing, do drop by My Rest Space near Marymount gate and talk to one of our peer helpers! We’re open on Tuesday from 2.30 – 4.30 p.m, Wednesday 11.00 a.m. – 3.00 p.m., Thursday 2.30 – 4.30 p.m. and Friday 1.30 – 4.30 p.m. If you would like to meet a peer helper on a regular basis, do email us a request at firstname.lastname@example.org or fill in our request form at our website https://rafflespeerhelpers.wordpress.com!