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[Hey, that’s me] One-sided crush

By kimchiturka

The following is one clichéd sob story that could easily fit into some corny teen romance novel, but it really happened to me. A few years ago, I was watching You’re Beautiful. It was only my second K-drama, and I was not at all prepared for a story about an apprentice nun in a K-pop idol band with eyeliner-wearing bandmates. I watched the first two episodes with my eyes glued to the screen, unable to form any kind of coherent opinion about what I was seeing because the plot and the clothes they wore were so outrageous to me.

It was so distant from my culture and anything that I was familiar with that I could have easily stopped watching it, but instead, I found myself laughing out loud at the gags, and down the rabbit hole I went. It was a totally absurd show, but I found it to be unexpectedly funny and at the same time heart-flutteringly endearing. As it turns out, a huge part of that endearing quality – for me – came from this:

Somewhere near the middle of the series, there was a scene in which poor Go “Mi-nam” (Park Shin-hye’s character) watches Hwang Tae-kyung (Jang Geun-seok’s character) “kissing” an actress (played by UEE) in front of camera flashes of reporters, and thus “revealing” that they are in a relationship. The kiss is fake, there is no relationship. He is only doing it to give the reporters something juicy to write about, and thus stop them from finding out that Go Mi-nam is in fact a girl – but she didn’t know that. She only sees them from a distance in the kissing pose and, since she’s a clueless apprentice nun who doesn’t read between the lines or understand body language, she believes the same thing the reporters do: Hwang Tae-kyung has a girlfriend. She had spent that entire episode wondering why she feels “electricity” whenever she looks at him. When the fake kiss happened, she probably realized the reason for the electricity only in that moment. And she just stands there quietly and watches, her expression exactly the same as when she heard that her mum had died, and finally, tears start rolling down her cheeks.

As a viewer, I knew that he actually cared for her – even though he himself didn’t know it yet – and that in reality there was no reason for her to cry. However, the instant I saw her face in that scene, that expression of utter heartbreak hit me right in the stomach. I felt a lump in my throat and my eyes got wet, and it lasted until the scene was over. I was dumbfounded, because seriously – was this really something for me to get so emotional over? But then it dawned on me – of course it was.

The thing was, when I was in my twenties, I had a really bad one-sided crush. And I mean really, really bad – it lasted for seven years straight. As trivial as it may sound, it left me permanently scarred in a sense. Even now, when all of those feelings are arguably long gone, I still feel a cramp or two in my stomach whenever his name pops out in a conversation, and I cannot laugh or talk about it without a lump in my throat.

It was a typical college-era story, the girl with a crush and the guy without it. In less than two months after I first met him, I was already perfectly aware that he wasn’t into me and that there was no way in hell that that would change. I was sad and gloomy, but what could I do? I’ve had one-sided crushes before, and I knew that there was nothing particular to it – I just had to be a bit patient and wait it out.

Except, it didn’t happen. Not this time, and I still don’t know why. I did everything I normally would, I danced, I studied, I worked, I hung out with my friends. I laughed, I travelled, I even lived abroad for a while – I even had new crushes! (Also one-sided, but without making me bawl my eyes out.) But those feelings or whatever they were for that particular individual just wouldn’t go away. They seemed to be stuck in my entrails, wrapped tightly around my gut like some nasty python. That nasty python would make me go silent and sweat in the blink of an eye at the mere mention of his name, not to mention I’d cry myself to sleep at least 5-6 times a month.

It was a pain that was totally confusing and infuriating because it literally made no sense – it was a simple, entirely chemistry-based crush on someone I didn’t even know well – so why was it so painful? And why wouldn’t it stop?

Anyway, that entire lovely experience has left me especially sensitive about similar situations – whether in real life or in an absurd TV show with a doormat of a heroine. Go Mi-nyeo’s face in that scene and in several others in later episodes was a pitch-perfect hyper-realistic portrait of my own face on countless occasions during the past seven years, a mirror reflection of how I felt million times. That girl was in real pain, and my memory of the same kind of pain was terribly vivid – because I will never forget how the “electricity” was making my heart thump like mad, while at the same time my brain knew beyond doubt that it would never happen. All of it would just make my heart sink and my eyes burn, again and again.

Okay, for Go Mi-nyeo it did happen eventually, but I still identified and therefore sympathized with her for the rest of the show, despite the differences between us. All I saw was that she was a girl in love who believed that it was hopeless, and since she couldn’t just make her feelings disappear, she was constantly trying to fight off tears and the lump in her throat, with limited success. And no one knew better than me what that feels like. For a show as surreal as You’re Beautiful was, that was some pretty heavy realism from my point of view.

 
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This is so lovely! What beautiful writing. I've never thought of this show as 'real' in any way, and this is such an interesting perspective on it. Thanks!

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Thank you :)

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YOU’RE BEAUTIFUL was totally outrageous and absurd... and I loved it for it (see my avatar). Aah the “fake kiss” scene. As a newcomer to dramaland, I too felt that scene deeply, but more because I was busy raging at Fate for causing a misunderstanding and making Pig Rabbit couple suffer. Naive me. OTPs are meant to be together.

If only real life were so simple.

But there is the other side of the coin: The drama was full of people with one-sided crushes. I didn’t for a moment think she’d end up with anyone but Tae-Kyung, but Jeremy unexpectedly broke my heart. 💔

I really liked your post. 😊That feeling of “electricity” and giddy confusion before a college crush... it didn’t scar me but it did make me wonder later why on earth I just didn’t say something to the guy. Maybe that’s why I was so impressed (at first) by second-lead females who had no trouble claiming the guy in front of everyone.

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I'm glad you liked it. And just so you know, your avatar is my favorite of all Beanie avatars :)

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Such a lovely write-up, thank you! I didn't really like You're Beautiful, but the same scene made me cry, too. Like you I had a really bad experience with a one-sided crush for a few years. But my problem was that I could never tell, if he was also into me. His behaviour was just really confusing. After a few years wondering and hoping my sister suddenly told me, that he got engaged and my whole world fall apart. He got married a few months later and has two kids by now. A few years later I met my boyfriend and I'm genuinely happy, that I didn't marry the other guy (where I grew up you would either marry or don't start a relationship at all), but for a very long time it was still weird when I saw my old crush.
But luckily for me, my old feelings are less and less present now. I still feel empathy for a person with a one-sided crush, but it doesn't hurt anymore.
Thanks for this post, it made me realise that I processed my feelings, even though I always thought it was impossible.

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"I still feel a cramp or two in my stomach whenever his name pops out in a conversation" why do I relate to this soooooo much??? What I feel is more like a pang though, not painful, more like wishful regret.....

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@turka Thank you for the write up 😊

I can TOTALLY empathize, friend!!
Throughout grade school—grades 3 through 12—I had a one-sided crush on the same guy.
We attended the same school throughout grades 3 to 9, and something actually almost—ALMOST— came out of it in the latter half of our Grade 9 year if it hadn’t been for drama between “friends” i.e. the popular girl who is a people pleaser and actually entitled herself and thought that everyone did, and should, like her but really no one did.
I’d thought I’d finally found my way out when it was time for everyone to move onto different schools for grades 10 to 12, because “out of sight, out of mind”, right?? NOPE. We ended up choosing and going going to the same school again for the remainder of our grade-school years (10 to 12), and because of that, it actually took me about 2 or so years of my university years to REALLY clear my head and to have him completely out of my heart, despite not even seeing or being in any contact with the guy since high school grad.
Through this experience—and real life makjang family drama with my dad (long story short, he left us, I grew up in a single parent household)— I’ve realized that I’ve become very guarded of my heart and the first gut reaction I have of any male that approaches me is to automatically put them into my friend zone for new male friends or “brother” zone for male friends that I’ve known for years.....
The hardest part in all of this is that I’ve dreamt about starting my own family one day—which I’m surprised at, despite all the drama and crap I’ve been through emotionally with the family and with my long-running one-sided crush all those years ago— but I’m now in my late-20s without anyone in my life as a boyfriend, or even a potential to be one, in my circle of guy friends... All because of the, what I like to call, the Berlin Wall I’ve put up in my heart.

Talk about being my own worst critic and hindrance 🤷🏻‍♀️

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I feel you so much. I may not be able to say anything that's insightful or provide comfort, but I just wanted to say that I relate so much to the Berlin Wall and the filing of male friends into Friend/Brother zone

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Oh I feel you too, and don't lose hope, chingu - I met my current boyfriend - actually, my first and only :) - when I was 28, so I know for a fact that late twenties are not "too late" for anything, and neither are thirties, nor even later. Hwaiting!

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🥰🥰🥰💪🏻💪🏻💪🏻

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i'm sorry about the hardships. putting yourself out there is tough, particularly if you experience trauma. but it's never "too late" lol i feel the same way but i always tell people my age and my friends how ridiculous that is! we have time!!! we're young

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=))

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@bebeswtz
I'll just start by putting this out there first....we are really all idiots in the world of love. Coming out anywhere near normal is both a mixture of luck and courage (if you really look at other relationships around you...the ones that don't have some level of dysfunction are rare...as are the ones that go the distance.)

No-one owes anyone returned romantic love...so one sided love is all on us. However, to me friends zone is a damaging misnomer caused by seeing people in a strange dichotomy. Friends are not rejected lovers, they are important in their own right and deserve to be treated as such.

Your relationship needs is nothing but personal preference and you should never be ashamed of your choice....everyone has different roads. The pool may be thinned and it may not be the relationship you imagined when you were younger...but that doesn't make it anything lesser.

I wish you well and hope you find what you are looking for. However, the element that struck me in your post was how you worded the part about wanting a family. Sometimes which signals you put out affects how people respond.

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Thanks @turka! You’re Beautiful was prob my third Kdrama. I found the guyliner, the clothes, the tropes, the plot ridiculous. I saw a lot of “quirky” stuff in kdramas that are foreign to my culture like piggy backs, wrist grab, cracking eggs on someone’s head, hitting someone in jest, etc. But I loved it and continued to get addicted. I find myself identifying with the lead female characters. I see my insecurities in them and their triumph became mine too.

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damn... that really sounded like a very very painful one-sided crush...
*sending lots of Beanie hugs*
And thanks for the relatable writing! I also get a real physical pinch in my heart whenever my fav characters get their hearts broken (real or fake).

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Aww this was so relatable to read as I pretty much have experienced a lot of one sided crushes, and I found You're Beautiful to be so endearing just because of how it showed falling in love for the first time in such an innocent endearingly relatable way...it is in my top 5 kdramas

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Oh man. This. Thank you for this. This hit all the right notes for me. So many hugs to you <3

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i'm sorry about that painful experience! i have trouble with men and relationships (i mean, as a qu**r person that has been kinda forced into a heterosexuality box due to the nature of my family men are my only option) but my anxiety and ocd make liking people exhausting and sickening. i can't eat, can't sleep, can't think. but at the same time, love sounds like the nicest thing ever. i want a family and kids and like dogs and cats and to be happy

sometimes that feeling of dread is the worst. if you hear someone's name and your heart skips a beat, even if you're over it! but i don't know what a true crush or love feels like loool so whenever i see people in dramas with these huge crushes im always like 'que?!??! can't u move on' (bc i am a romantic and crazy but wow i can get over someone lightning fast)

i can relate to you and your write-up even though i haven't experienced this level or the length just because of that emptiness? feeling? hard to explain, but i get it. interesintg post!!!!

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holy crap yeah.

one side of the coin is you´re a total gonner and it just doesnt change... other side is tho... not everything is as it seems.
In my case, I always fear someone hates me when actually I am overthinking. and my crush... has lasted 20 years but I wasn´t aware I had it. and it was way more complicated than this drama. Thing is, a happy end doesnt necessarily have to be a romantic relationship. It can be something else - finding yourself or a friend to trust, allowing yourself to feel, having courage to express something... just being... I think it is all of this in my case. Courage, self expression, daring to feel, confidence, trust, patience, and a very very strong will to not give up... maybe things can never be as a perfect dream but there is another level of connection, a different kind of attraction... just individuals who are adrift but tied by something... in this cosmos, so it wont swallow us. play whatever role you get sincerely and it will be ok. I am being a "friend" perhaps but there is something I cant put my finger on...
a light can best be seen in the dark. like in the drama...
I know how you feel, trust me. it is even harder when it is not QUITE one sided but you still know it is impossible. but... not everything is as it seems... my oppa says "Anything can happen!" and "Law of attraction" you attract what you are thinking of.

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I also found myself in this situation very recently when watching an episode of Let Me Hear Your Song and I suddenly found myself in tears. When I was at university, I had been besotted with an upperclassman who became a very close friend and who knew about my very strong infatuation. He didn't feel the same way (he told me and he was right that I only liked the idea of him) but he never outright rejected me either so for a very long time I nursed that hope that someday he would change his mind. Hope can lead to expectations and that brings pain. You keep telling yourself it was wrong but you can't help it anyway. I only got over the heartache after I moved away and then I found my real first love and everything before that became all memories of youthful follies. We are still friends and now have families. When our little children met they got on well. When I see him, I don't remember those feelings at all but occasionally when I watch Korean dramas and I see my older self, I would remember what I felt and I couldn't help but cry.

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