Apparently, My Fantasy Relationship Is Depicted in a J. Crew Catalog

I hear that romantic fantasizing is healthy. But, like anything, too much of it might be detrimental.

Apple picking
(Image credit: Harald Eisenberger/LOOK)

I hear that romantic fantasizing is healthy. But, like anything, too much of it might be detrimental.

When I was at the beach this past weekend, I literally fell in love with this girl we nicknamed "Stripes" because she had a black-and-white-striped dress on Saturday night when we saw her out.

This girl, a dark-haired beauty, looked like Jackie Kennedy. She had a sophisticated, intelligent, confident look in her eye. She smiled easily while she talked with her friends.

That first night, we seemed to be exchanging glances, and I wonder if I should have approached her to chat. But I figured she was just looking at me because she was creeped out by how much I was staring at her.

Speaking of creepy, I was basically fantasizing what it would be like to date her. Now, I had her figured to be one of those rich, ultra-preppie girls from Washington, DC, who frequent the Delaware shore towns.

So, I imagined hanging out with her — all the wealthy Mid-Atlantic things to do, dressed to the nines in our preppie fatigues (scary that my love fantasies have fashion prerequisites): going to the college lacrosse championships, boating, having a nice seafood dinner at her huge beach house (hers because I could not afford the kind of beach house that was in this fantasy), going to events such as Hunt Cup (the Maryland Fox Hunt) with get the picture — I had us living a life similar to those people in J. Crew catalogs (although there were no golden retrievers in these dreams).

You know the activities in the J. Crew catalog: apple picking, playing fetch with the dog, pulling up the anchor on the boat, pulling in the lobster trap in the late afternoon on a rocky shore, enjoying a stroll together in a field against autumn foliage?

...Okay, maybe I was also fantasizing about being wealthy, but who doesn't do that?

I also imagined her as the apple of my family's eye: the women in my family proud and happy that I finally found someone, and the men in my family wondering how I pulled it off because this girl was clearly too good for me.

Now, on the final day of our trip, I saw Stripes at the Starboard bar during the day, looking radiant as ever. I didn't talk to her, of course, and she eventually became a memory — joining all of the girls I've fallen in love with while creating imaginary relationships.

The scary part of all this is: When I told a co-worker about Stripes, my co-worker asked if I talked to her. I said: "No, but just the idea of Stripes is good enough. She represents happiness and Dewey Beach, and everything in my head is better than what the reality would have been if I made contact."

To my surprise, my female co-worker agreed with me. She said: "Isn't it funny how that fantasy is so much better than reality most of the time?"

That's my point — the fantasy is almost always better than the reality. I'm beginning to settle for the fantasy more and more, which isn't healthy. And I don't want to damage this fantasy by trying to turn it into reality (i.e., hitting on that girl I'm fantasizing about).

What if this girl turned out to be different than I imagined, or the relationship was different than I imagined...if we ever really dated?

Giving in to the fantasizing aspect of relationships appeals to my laziness and to my fear of risk-taking. It's no different than relying on porn too much for sexual gratification. This standard that porn can create in the mind is impossible to accomplish. So, we drift deeper into fantasy and away from reality.

Ultimately, too much fantasizing cripples our ability to date, drains our happiness. The fantasy made Stripes unattainable, so I satisfied myself by imagining dating her. Logically, I know I'd be much happier if I actually dated her instead of thinking about it, but chasing the dream seems like too difficult an endeavor...and she seemed like a dream that was too good for me, so I kind of psyched myself out of trying for someone I had put on a pedestal without even talking to her.

How does fantasizing affect your dating life? Do you agree that if you fantasize too much, the fantasy seems like it's better than the reality? Have you ever fantasized so much that you didn't try for someone, or settled for the fantasy instead? Do you think I just psyched myself out or used the fantasy to avoid actually approaching the girl?

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