YA Stereotypes: Love From Afar. Does this Happen in Real Life?

Posted September 26, 2014 by Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction in Let's Discuss / 30 Comments

zooey_new girl jess

So, lately I’ve been thinking about something that happens A LOT in YA books. Love from afar.

Let me give you an example: the sweet, quiet, somewhat socially awkward girl is in love with the star quarterback – who she’s never actually had a conversation with. She spends her school days staring at him from across the classroom (or the lunchroom or the football field) and watches him with awe – and quite a lot of drooling.

Of course, there are many variations of this. Sometimes it’s the guy who’s in love with the unattainable girl. Or even a girl with confidence and all sorts of friends who suddenly finds herself tongue-tied when the object of her affection is near, so she’s never actually spoken to him (this was the case in the book I reviewed yesterday). But the common thread is that the girl (or guy) is hung up on someone she’s never really spoken to. Often, this crush has been going on for an extended period of time – sometimes years.

Which brings me to my question: Is this really a thing? Have any of you ever fallen in adoration (I can’t call it love) with someone you barely know? I’m talking more than just a passing, “Oh, wow, that guy’s cute.” But, like a full-on crush?

See, I just can’t imagine it. I had plenty of crushes in high school, but they were all on guys who I knew – who I had some sort of relationship with, even if it was kind of fleeting. I never saw a cute boy across the lunchroom and suddenly felt myself drawn to him in some inexplicable way because he was just so incredibly attractive that I just couldn’t get him out of my mind.

And I never found myself attracted to someone who was just completely opposite me and totally out of my social strata. Honestly, I can’t remember much about the quarterback of my high school football team. I’m sure he was probably cute (isn’t that like a prerequisite, or is that just another YA stereotype?). In fact, if I push my brain really, really hard, I think I might be able to kind of sort of picture him, and yeah, I think he was good looking. I’m sure he had cheerleaders swooning over him all the time. But I didn’t know him, so I didn’t really pay him much attention. In fact, I can’t seem to remember any other guy who was even on the football team. The boys I drooled over were mostly involved in theatre (like me) – and the crushes that really lasted were the ones with boys that I knew pretty well.

So, is this concept of love from afar totally made up and just perpetuated through YA books? Or is this a real thing that happens more often than I realize? When you were in high school did you ever have a lasting crush on someone you’d never even spoken to? I want to know!


30 responses to “YA Stereotypes: Love From Afar. Does this Happen in Real Life?

  1. I think it was more of a middle school thing for me, but yea I definitely crushed hard from a far when I was 13-15 years old. And it was a popular guy who I had very few interactions with, but because our last names were next to each other in the alphabet, I got to see him a bunch.

    Jordin @ A Bottomless Book Bag recently posted: On Hiatus
  2. I dunno… some people, at least for me, you just kinda.. fancy? Sometimes it’s how they act, or how they look. Although I do wonder if the reason I form irrational crushes is because I’ve read so much teen fiction, I’m practically programmed to want the whole love at first sight scenario!
    As for football players at my school, sweaty and a little too aggressive, but then again.. that’s only cause I’m comparing them to Augustus Waters 😀


    • You bring up a good point about whether fiction can influence our real lives. This could be a topic all in itself (I think I’ll have to write a post on this sometime!) – Are we influenced enough by the things we read to expect life to fall in line with fiction? Or does it work the other way, and fiction closely mirrors real life (sometimes)?

  3. Joycedale

    Once, the foreign exchange student Max (kind of sad I remember his name after all these yrs). I think that was mostly because he was a cute senior while I was a freshman and I was fascinated with Germany.
    I had crushed on a couple of guys that was completely out of my social status and that I only spoke to a couple of times all through school.
    But I crushed really easy. I didn’t have the greatest self esteem and anytime a guy outside of my group was nice to me it happened, if only for a few days.

    • I could kind of see how an exchange student would be someone so interesting that you might have a crush on them, even without knowing them very well. You would come up with all sorts of fantasies about what the exotic foreign boy would be like! I guess it might be the same for a football star now that I think about it – your crush isn’t necessarily based on who someone is, but the amazing person you imagine them to be! 🙂

  4. I was all set to say it’s totally possible! Because I had a crush that went from 7th grade all through high school. He was a jock and popular and I was kind of awkward and for the most part shy. Like I said I WAS going to say it’s possible but mine doesn’t really count because he and I were friends. And since he was my only “crush” and any other guy I was interested in I dated I guess you bring up a good question.

    The idea of it is cute and sweet though. Fun post! 🙂

    Sheri @ Tangled Up In Books recently posted: REVIEW: Divergent (Divergent #1) by Veronica Roth
    • Aww … now I’m emotionally invested in you and your middle school/high school crush! Is it any wonder that I get easily wrapped up in YA books? LOL!

  5. I never had crushes from afar. It was weird since all of my friends had them (have them) but I can only like a person who I have talked to and actually like for their personality.
    I do think the opposite thing is possible though (becouse it happened to me-though not the social strata thing).

    Anna @ Books,Quotes & Dimples recently posted: The Book Life Tag
    • Well, if your friends have them, then they’re definitely a real thing! I agree that opposites are definitely possible – but hopefully you know them before you fall. 🙂

  6. In high school I fell in adoration each year with a different boy, I think I just wanted to be in love realy bad and there was always one boy who stood out from the rest. I usually ended up talking with them later on, but it started with having a crush on them and only after that I got to know them. I even got to great lenghts to get to know them. It’s weird thinking about it now and the interesting thing is that I got to know my boyfriend before I fell in love with him and I still think that’s one of the best way to start a relationship.

    When I read about love from afar in books and want to tell the character that he/she doesn’t even know the other. Even though I experienced it myself a few times, it still feels off to read about those kind of situations.

    Lola recently posted: Review: Elected by Rori Shay
  7. This kinda happens and kinda not. It’s never from so afar that I’ve never spoken to the person (that’s just weird, no??), but I do tend to get full on crushes, when I’m crushing on someone. Though it will have usually been while building a friendship, so I get where these books are coming from, which is totally different to insta-love, but I definitely believe in insta-lust, it happens for me pretty regularly!!! Lol 🙂 R x

  8. I’ve never had crushes on people I never talked to/interacted with, but there were one or two guys I’d only talked to a couple of times and I wished we’d talked more. I feel like it’s a little ridiculous to have a crush on someone you hardly know, but then again you might have a crush on the person you imagine them to be!

    • You’re totally right – I think sometimes we probably do form crushes on people as we imagine them to be. That’s really what’s happening in most of those YA books, right?

  9. This is a great discussion. I definitely don’t think there’s any sense of love from afar in real life without at least a little interaction (while still mostly crushing in the background). I think there’s a piqued interest, a mysterious allusion, some drawable force, or simply mere infatuation with someone a person’s never met. 🙂

    It’s quite interesting how although the two people have never really met, they usually tend to both feel the exact same way “Oh my gosh, I have to know her/him”. At least that’s how it goes with TV Shows. (Feel free to read “I have to know her.” in Stefan’s voice from The Vampire Diaries).

    As far as fiction goes, there’s only one example I’ll ever except (and it’s mostly because of one very beautiful passage in the novel), which is Cosette and Marius in Les Miserables by Victor Hugo (which I haven’t actually read but love the musical).

    Amber @ YA Indulgences recently posted: The Sunday Post (#10) + Stacking The Shelves (#6)
    • Good point! It’s ridiculous enough when one person forms a crush on someone they don’t really know, but it’s even crazier when they BOTH secretly feel the same way. (Vampire Diaries is a great example).

      • It really is, and then they’ve harbored this secret “Oh my gosh, I had no idea you liked me for these whole five years I’ve been secretly watching you from afar (insert possible “I thought you were so out of my league/didn’t think about me/whatever else)”. It’s just insane. Lol.

        I kind of like how it works in TVD because they have an actual reason for this mutual attraction for each other. Though the show’s messed that up…Oh, I just remembered it’s a book series too. Ah, well then. I used to love that show. Sorry, I kind of got off on a tangent there. 🙂

  10. Glad to know that I was an answer to your question:)
    Loving someone from afar is such a bittersweet feeling.In my case, I have never spoken a word to my crush, but I’ve had developed feelings for him for two years.
    But it’s nothing like what I’ve read in books.I don’t believe in insta love or love at first sight.You need to know something about that person to fall for them.
    To me, it was his passion for literature.I’ve never seen a guy who loves books as much as I do and has valid arguments when it comes to fiction.
    And he wears geek glasses. Can you actually blame me for falling for that guy?:)

    Mishma @ As the page turns recently posted: 20 things you probably didn't know about me
  11. Jess

    I know I’m very late, but I stumbled upon this thread. It does happen, the proper term is infatuation, and it stinks! I was infatuated with a boy my junior and senior year of high school (still sort of am) I felt like I really liked him even though I had barely said two words to him. I probably liked the idea of him but from the one time I did talk to him, he was really nice and cool, so although liking someone at first because of physical attraction may seem like it can’t go anywhere, I’m sure a few relationships have started because of a similar experience 🙂 although not always the case!

  12. Liz

    I also stumbled upon this blog recently (so very late) but from personal experience, this kind of thing does happen. Weirdly enough, this didn’t happen for me in middle school, it happened later on in my life. I’m almost out of high school and I am currently stuck on one person who I’ve never had a conversation with. I know, stupid right? But I guess this became more common because of self-doubt. After I started high school, my experiences and all that accumulated after made me rethink whenever I wanted to like or love someone so it keeps me away from the person. And of course, I do get that “what could have been” feeling but you know, it’s a hard habit to shake. I mostly get drawn in because that person might share similar interests and, like the person I like now, he’s more popular and social than I am so it’s hard to really integrate myself in his circles. We can’t all have book-type endings but I just wanted to put that out there.

    • You’re not the only one who’s told me about their real life story that fits this YA mold. Guess it’s way more prevalent than I thought! Actually, I married my high school sweetheart, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised when I hear real life stories that match books more closely than you’d expect. 🙂

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