Confession: I spent a lot of my childhood and teenage years locked in the bathroom reading. I would sit on the toilet, dive into a book, and devour stories. While this made my family think that I had some serious bowel issues, what I was actually doing the entire time was having intense, emotional relationships with people who aren’t real. Characters in books can help us learn something about ourselves, each other, and the world. Plus, they make great romantic partners and best friends if you don’t want to deal with real life. It’s not sad, it’s called imagination. We learned about it from Barney.
If any of this resonates with you, you’ve probably been in a secret emotional relationship with at least one of these characters:
I love you. I’m too old for you now…technically, but I remember our teenage love. I’ll never forget it. You are the magic orphan of my dreams. I think your glasses and your scar are super hot. Remember when we made out at the Yule ball? I do. You’re loyal, brave, adventurous, and there’s no one I’d rather take a walk in the Forbidden Forest with. You taught me to believe that friends can be your family when you need them to be, and how to be brave and never give up. I cried at the end of the seventh book, because I honestly didn’t know when I’d ever see you again. You broke my heart Harry. Seven whole books, and then you just leave me? Don’t go, I’ll die my head red for you. Also, I want custody of Buckbeak.
Edward Rochester from Jane Eyre
I don’t want to like you, Rochester. Actually, you kind of suck. But you’re a 17th century bad boy, and I have a thing for bad boys. I know you and Jane are engaged and everything, but I can deal with being the other woman for the time being. I’m glad that because of your engagement, I don’t actually have to commit to you and I can live in a fantasy land with you. Oh, what’s that? You’re engaged to Jane AND you have your wife locked up in the attic because she’s crazy? Hm…let me figure out how I feel about that. I really wasn’t expecting that from this book…I mean relationship. I mean, you are my boyfriend, but you’ve locked her up there for a LONG time. That’s messed up. Does that mean when you get sick of your partner, you just lock her in the attic? You know what, I was cool with being the other woman in this whole situation but I don’t really want to be the third wheel. Thanks for teaching me to always expect the unexpected when you’re dating someone.
All of the characters from The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit
I just have this thing for hairy feet and orcs. I love everyone in Middle Earth so much, it hurts when anything happens there. Anyone else? I guess if I had to pick a favorite to be my boyfriend, it would be Gimli because he’s a dwarf and I’m a gold digger. I also like how he wields an axe. Nah…wait…Gandalf. He’s wise, and he always knows what’s going to happen before everyone else does. Plus he’s super old, and you know, daddy issues. Wait-wait. Bilbo. He’s cranky, but he’s a go-getter and he outsmarts a dragon. That is seriously hot. No-wait, the dragon. I can’t make up my mind. I love you all. Never change.
Jo March from Little Women
Jo March is my spirit animal. I have never related to any character in a book more than her. I don’t know if I want to be her best friend, be her lover, or just be in her family. She’s a rebel who writes plays and bosses other people around. She also writes short stories, and it’s kind of the best reading a book where the main character is a female writer. She throws temper tantrums, never wants to get married, then WANTS to get married to her cool professor, and opens up a boarding school for boys. I love her fieriness and impulsiveness. Through our friendship, I’ve learned that it’s cool to be a nerd and a rebel at the same time.
Guy Montag from Fahrenheit 451
I pine for Guy Montag. He questions what is right and wrong, reads books even though it’s against the law, and lights things on fire professionally. What’s not to love? While he can’t quite put his finger on why he is so unsatisfied and lonely at the start, he knows that he is missing something, and starts to seek it out. Even though books have been outlawed and it’s his job to burn them, his thirst for knowledge leads him to throw all of his learned ideals out the window and read them. What’s not to love? Thank you for lighting a fire inside my heart Guy, and for loving books in a dystopia where people have either been forced or have chosen to forget their humanity.
Mikael Blomkvist from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
I like obsessive people. This man will do anything to do his job, and do it properly. He is meticulous, organized, ruthless, and loves his coffee. Seriously, I think he drinks 400 pots of coffee throughout the story. I like caffeinated, high energy men who know what they want. I want him to win all the time, and I also kind of want to follow him home and get inside of his head. When I was reading, I had a huge stake in whatever happened to him. Thanks for teaching me that it’s cool to just do your own thing. I do get really jealous of your intense relationships with other women, I know you’re not real and in a book, and you can’t actually see me, but please pay attention to me the most. Thank you.
Matthias from Redwall and Hazel from Watership Down
I have a thing for underdogs and anthropomorphic animals. Matthias beats Cluny the Scourge against all odds, and Hazel always knows what to do on his journey—not because he is the strongest, but because he is the smartest and most logical. I would let either of these furry buds lead me on an adventure any day.
Zooey Glass from Franny and Zooey
Zooey Glass is the angsty Salinger character of my dreams. He is way easier to become emotionally invested in than the better known Holden. Holden would be hard to deal with since you’d constantly be competing with his sister Phoebe. Men and their sisters, am I right? Zooey Glass is a pissed off actor living in New York City who, as Salinger puts it, has been in a “private war against narcissism” since he was a child. He is moody, smart, a self proclaimed freak, and can’t stop talking. He has tough words for his younger sister Franny, but she needs to hear them in order to snap out of her self-induced mental breakdowns. Most of the times I need a slap in the face about life, I read this and my pretend boyfriend Zooey snaps me out of it. Zooey, you are the harsh voice inside my head, and I really appreciate it.
Anna Karenina is the kind of best friend you want to talk on the phone to about her problems because they’re way more interesting than yours. The love between her and Vronsky is one of the most intense things I’ve ever read about, and I’m so emotionally invested in their relationship that when I read Anna Karenina I feel like their creepy third wheel best friend who lives vicariously through their passion for each other. They’re the train wreck (ha! Too soon?) of a couple who you know will never leave each other. You keep telling Anna to leave, but secretly you don’t want her to because it keeps you entertained. At a certain point though, you’d probably get annoyed at her because you want to talk about your own problems, and she’d likely be so distraught with herself that you’d get pissed off and go talk to your other friends you like more. But then eventually, you go back to her, because hanging out with Anna is better than any romantic television story line you could ever watch.
I’m emotionally attached to Sherlock Holmes because he’s emotionally unavailable and a detective genius. He might be a sociopath, but he’s so smart, I think I can look past that and seek out his friendship. Personally, I want to hound his baskervilles. I think in reality, this would be an “I’m in love with my best friend who is obsessed with his work kind of deal.” I don’t know if I can compete with Irene Adler, but I could definitely be his female version of Watson. Don’t get me wrong, I love Watson too. Actually, the three of us would probably turn into the best of friends. We’d probably have the greatest time solving mysteries together. I do sort of feel like I would try to pretend it was like Scooby Doo sometimes, and Sherlock and Watson would have to have a good talk with me about it, but eventually I’d get straightened out and take it more seriously.
Who are you emotionally attached to that isn’t real? Tweet @RachelResnik and @litdarling and let’s chat about it!
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