The fine art of indifference.

The More Loving One’ by W. H. Auden is a beautiful poem that perfectly captures the art of becoming indifferent to what you cannot have. I’ve often used this technique to get over disappointed hopes, but the poet was clearly writing about an infatuation.


Looking up at the stars, I know quite well
That, for all they care, I can go to hell,
But on earth indifference is the least
We have to dread from man or beast.

How should we like it were stars to burn
With a passion for us we could not return?
If equal affection cannot be,
Let the more loving one be me.

Admirer as I think I am
Of stars that do not give a damn,
I cannot, now I see them, say
I missed one terribly all day.

Were all stars to disappear or die,
I should learn to look at an empty sky
And feel its total dark sublime,
Though this might take me a little time.

 

In the early stages of having a crush, most of us place the object on a pedestal and feel utterly insignificant in their presence. The indifference of a crush may seem more cruel than the outright dislike of other people, but like Auden, I prefer to be unnoticed. Being unnoticed allows me to observe and study the crush to find out if we are actually compatible, while pretending to take no notice of them.

 

I usually conclude that any relationship between us wouldn’t work, just as people wouldn’t survive if the sun burnt more fiercely out of passion for us. Being the more loving one may seem like a disadvantage, but it would be uncomfortable if a person you didn’t particularly like, developed a crush on you.

Once I have rationalized myself out of the infatuation, I decide that perfectly capable of living happily without the other person. In time, all the passion I may have felt for the crush dies down and I enjoy my solitude again.

Of course, this doesn’t apply to crushes on celebrities or fictional characters, as they can never exert any power over you. Nor should it apply to those rare cases where it is worth  overcoming your fear of rejection to try and talk to the crush.