Are You Stuck On Fantasy?

In For the Guys, For the Ladies, Marriage, Relationships by Debra Fileta24 Comments

I recently overheard two women discussing their fantasy boyfriends over coffee. They were chatting about their favorite “celebs”: 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…or better yet…

A while back on the news, I listened to reporters praise a pubescent teenager for asking his Sports Illustrated supermodel crush (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 that 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. The bottom line is this…

Fantasy is living in what could be, rather than living in the reality of what actually is (Tweet it!).

From pornography, to affairs, to toxic relationships.  The list could go on and on, but in each of these you will find men and women, imprisoned within the confines of a dream.  Stuck in a life they make up with people who don’t actually exist. 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, than make a chance. 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 that you can be proud of.

Because only then are you able to truly live. 

True Love Dates, is the book that world-renown #1 New York Times best-selling authors and relationship experts Drs. Les & Leslie Parrot have claimed to be exactly what “your love life needs”. Learn more, or pick up a copy for yourself by clicking the image below. 

Because healthy relationships are not “found” — they’re made. 

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Debra Fileta is a Professional Counselor, speaker, and author of True Love Dates: Your Indispensable Guide to Finding the Love of Your Life21 Days to Jump Start Your Love Life, and 21 Days to Pray For Your Love Life – where she writes candidly about dating, relationships, and how to find true love. You may also recognize her voice from her 150+ articles at Relevant Magazine or Crosswalk.com! She’s also the creator of this True Love Dates Blog!  Connect with her on Facebook or Twitter!

Comments

  1. Thank for this excellent article! I read a suggestion somewhere that I thought was good for helping transition from being fixated on a crush to looking for someone who you’d like to be in a real relationship with: Make a list of qualities that attract you to that fantasy person, and then start looking for those in a relationship. Then instead of saying, “I have a crush on Tom Hiddleston,” for example, you can say, “I like men who are well-read, optimistic, and romantic.”

    As for fantasy permeating other parts of our lives, I love this quote by C.S. Lewis: “If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.” I think it is important to have some dreams that reality can’t satisfy, otherwise what interest would we have in reaching towards God’s kingdom? But you’re right — we can’t spend all (or even most of) our time living in fantasy instead of reality.

  2. Debra!
    I’ve been following the blog for a few months now, but have never felt compelled to comment…until I read this–such an important lesson to learn! I think we can also get caught up in the fantasy of what we believe others’ lives must be like: how perfect the newlywed couple must be, how much happier I’ll be when I achieve a particular goal, etc. My ex-boyfriend and I had been discussing marriage for months before he finally admitted he didn’t love me. The break-up was messy and awful, but we both acknowledged that we’d been wanting the relationship to work so badly that we’d ignored some serious problems. I think we were both so caught up in the idea of finally finding someone (and finally joining our happy friends/siblings in the married group!), that we didn’t have the courage to face the reality of the situation.

  3. God bless u debra its so great article, i wish i could learn face too face from u, ( but am not dreaming ) hahha

  4. I think it’s important to distinguish between totally “living” in a fantasy world (clearly not healthy) and “average” fantasizing, which I find natural and inspiring. Also, no one would deny that real relationships are worth the investment when you get there, but there’s no guarantee that you will end up with good relationships, romantic or other, no matter how much you try to grow and mature.

  5. Thank you for addressing this important issue. This is exactly what I am battling right now – my mind. I have finally woken up to how unhealthy my fantasy world is (not celebrities, but fixating on guys I hardly know and creating a person in my mind that doesn’t actually exist). I know disappointment and the paralysis of living in a dream. I am so ready to face reality and the messy. Oh man, do I have questions for you, Debra!

    1. I love this. I’ve struggled with the same exact thing, and it’s comforting to know I’m not alone. God bless!

  6. Thank you for stepping out in faith and stating the truth! I really needed to hear this!

    1. Author

      Thank you, ML….for letting me know and for the kind words. God knew what you needed!

  7. Wow. It’s comforting to know we are not alone in this. I’m dating a guy from church who has a great heart, loves God, is good looking and really cherishes me but often times I found myself doubting and battling with fear because reality scares. We prefer the fantasy than the actual mess and beauty of a real relationship. But it’s time to face the fear and give God and love a chance. Thanks for sharing this Debra!

  8. I lived in a fantasy world much of the time for the same reasons most do: it’s more interesting than real life. On the plus side, I believe this lifelong obsession with fantasy has made me a good writer.

    My fantasies have often driven my attempts to make them real for myself, by learning new skills or by taking career risks. I do, to be honest, reject the notion I cannot make my life exactly how I wish it to be as I believe in my own competence and my will, which I do feel will take me far in those things I can control (my aptitudes and competence level). And fantasising about a successful outcome is useful in these cases too. If you have a new project on, imagining and believeing in a good outcome keeps you motivated.

    I suppose in relationships I do not experience that level of control, except that I have the agency to stay or leave and that’s where my responsibility lies. I would not say that fantasies of who a person is in a relationship are really just fantasies. They are inspired by truth and experience, which is the only way we understand the world. For instance, I can look back at some relationships and think to myself, why did you think that was good? But it was not because I refused to see but because I found it acceptable or normal. It s familiar to me. The boyfriend who is erratically there is not at fault if you believe it is wrong to require anything from anyone and that you’re supposed to be alone anyway – it is the only moral way to be (in my distorted thinking). Similarly, erroneous beliefs about responsibility underlie many DV cases, such as ‘this person would not act this way if I had not provoked him’ I.e. taking on too much responsibility for the emotions and actions of others and experiencing yourself as being more powerful than you really are, while the other is seen as the passive or helpless recipient of your mistakes. These are not fantasies but a subjective truth that makes perfect sense when you look at a persons history and understand where those thoughts came from – I.e. that for an important part of that persons life these very thoughts we in fact true.

  9. I tend to bounce back and forth between fantasy and real life. My fantasy life usually wins.

  10. So what’s the practical side of this? How do you move past the paralyzing fear of reality when you’re interested in someone?

  11. @ Kayla,

    Ask them out for coffee, if they come, tell them you would like to be friends and take it from there. If they reject your invitation to coffee then you know at least you have tried and have done your part. That way you will be able to move on without the “what if’s or I could have, should have or would have”.

    Best wishes.

  12. This is why I had suicidal thoughts for awhile. Because I know I’m not going to get any lasting fulfillment in this life, so I didn’t want to live it anymore. I’m not suicidal anymore but I still get depressed. As someone with high-functioning autism, I’ve always been really shy and socially awkward. I was never asked out in middle school or high school. I’m now in my early twenties and still haven’t been on one date.

    I have a job and a loving family and I’m a Christian, but I don’t want to hope because I hate being disappointed. There are only two guys I’m attracted to, but they live in another country and don’t even know I exist. I’m not even that attracted to my own race. I’m fine with God but he himself can’t meet every single one of my needs. And don’t say he can, because it’s not true.

    People also say “Love is an action, not a feeling,” and to some degree that’s true. But when you love someone, don’t you at least feel that they’re important to you? That they’re worth investing in? Unlike a lot of people, I don’t believe actions generate feelings. Paul himself said if he did all these great things, and yet did them without love, they wouldn’t mean anything. You can marry someone and sacrifice for them and stay faithful to them and do all the things you’re supposed to do, and still not love them.

  13. Thank you so much for posting this. Before I really surrendered my life to Christ, I struggled with living in a fantasy and convinced myself I was “in love” with a guy I didn’t even know personally. I fell for a perfected version of this guy that didn’t really exist to try to find fulfillment. Hopefully, this article shows people that living in a dream only brings emptiness, and only God can fill that void. I always felt that no one could relate to my story, but this post proves otherwise. Thank you.

  14. Thankyou for this article. It is very relevent to my situation. I am ‘in love’ with a man who doesn’t even know I exist. Completely silly of me as I know it can never be. I just feel so alone. I have been single for a long time. Now in my 40’s. I also suffer from depression.

  15. This is relevant to me also. Over the past 4-5 years I have obsessed over a video on youtube. It’s footage from a nightclub in a city I hardly knew anything about. The initial reason I even watched it was because it was of a specific music scene. I am not exaggerating in stating that I have watched the video footage over 300 times within this 4-5 year period. I feel like I know every second of it. In the video there is a young woman who after watching it, couldn’t stop thinking about. Before long, after 20 or so viewing I started to create her personality from all of my observations of her and I fell in love with that version of her.

    I was suffering from insomnia at the time and that is when I started the fantasy. It put a stop to insomnia almost immediately as I wouldn’t just go to bed and try and sleep. I’d go to this city where the nightclub was and the year in which the video was shot and meet her and others from the video. Adding to this, I wouldn’t be me. I’d be whoever I wanted to be. Most of the time I’d be a girl (I’m a guy). I’d keep changing my character but I’d always get my girl in the end.
    Now, in 2017 I found her profile on facebook. She’s a lot older now. She’s in a relationship with a man who if going on a visual description, would not be that far off a visual description of me.

    Seeing how some aspects of her life have actually panned out has broken me. I feel completely empty and worried my insomnia will come back before too long.

    My actual life for me feels like a waiting room for my appointment with Dr Death. I’m struggling to hold it together. I also suffer from depression and have recently had a family bereavement. I’m in the process of receiving some counselling for my bereavement but unsure whether I should tell them about the fantasies too. I know it’s not a normal way to live. It’s pretty wacky, but fantasies do fill voids. I’m a bit lost right now.

    1. Hey Carl, It takes a lot of courage to be so honest. I commend you for sharing your struggles. I went to counseling also for depression and anxiety. I went to a Christian counselor and he helped me a ton! Counseling is great but none of it would’ve completely healed me as Christ has healed me. Deliverance can be quick and miraculous or it can be a tough process. Mine was a tough process that lasted for about a year. But I kept going to Christ and choosing to believe in His promises. After a year, of working through the muck with the Lord and my therapist, I can say that all the pain and tears were worth it. I guess what I am trying to say is as you pursue counseling don’t give up on trying and don’t give up on God because as hard as it may be sometimes, we can trust that there is always hope of new mercies in Christ.
      I just want to let you know that Christ sees what you are going through and He loves you. He doesn’t want you to be stuck in that waiting room. He has a life of beautiful purpose for you. That video doesn’t define you. Once you know Christ and believe that you are His child, you will know exactly who you are and that will be the most freeing thing you could ever experience. It’s hard to see it sometimes, but we live by faith and not by sight. I don’t know what your relationship with God is like or if you have one, but I just wanted to share (as someone who has struggled with cognitive issues) that there is hope, there is life and it all can be found in putting your complete trust in Christ.

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