The Higher Purpose of a Crush

The Higher Purpose of a Crush
By Christine Gunderson
My first crush was wildly inappropriate. I was in fourth grade. He was in his thirties. I was a naïve North Dakota farm girl. He was a Confederate blockade-runner with a sardonic sense of humor.
But the biggest obstacle to our love was the fact that he wasn’t real. Rhett Butler existed exclusively in my mind and in the pages of Gone with the Wind. I became lost inside that book the moment I opened it and I didn’t return to the real world until it ended with those terrible words. “My dear, I don’t give a damn.”
He didn’t mean it of course. How could he leave Her/Me with our emerald eyes and passion for life? But as I got older and a less little naïve, I began to wonder if a man who ran off to visit Belle Watling every time he got into a fight with his wife was really an ideal hero. And that’s when I developed the crush that would inform my outlook on members of the opposite sex, both real and imagined, for the rest of my life.
Mr. Darcy would never visit a house of ill repute. He would never leave Scarlett on the road to Tara with a sick woman and a baby in the middle of a war zone. If Scarlett dressed up in curtains and came looking for money, Mr. Darcy would gently take her hand and say, “Madame, I cannot bear to see you abase yourself in this distressing manner. Go and live at my estate at Pemberley until reconstruction and your financial misfortunes have ended.”
Mr. Darcy was the crush to end all crushes. If you’re a parent, and you don’t want your daughter to date, ever, give her a copy of Pride and Prejudice. She will reject every boy who crosses her path for the next decade. No fifteen-year-old boy can compete with Mr. Darcy.
Let’s face it. Few grown men can compete with Mr. Darcy.
Mr. Darcy stayed inside my head for a long time. Colin Firth eventually came along and gave him more concrete facial features. But it was his character and his values, rather than his outward appearance, that inspired my love. He was trustworthy, honorable, and perhaps most importantly, able to admit it when he was wrong.
I married someone with the same admirable qualities. Maybe that’s the purpose of a crush. They’re romantic breadcrumbs on the trail of love, leading us onward, from youth, to maturity, to our final destination; happily ever after with the right person.



  1. Oh my, Mr. Darcy! Love your advice: keep your daughters out of the path of toxic bad boys like Rhett--simply introduce them to Darcy. BTW, you read GWTW in 4th grade? Impressed! I was still mastering the intricacies of Dick & Jane See Spot at that age.

  2. YES! Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy. The ultimate.

  3. I love Mr. Darcy (which is good, since I wrote a YA series based on Pride and Prejudice!), but when I read Jo Beverley's Malloren series, Mr. Darcy was cast aside for Lord Rothgar: upstanding, with with mega brains and a dash of spice.

    I do remember my daughter (around age 11) falling for Captain America ... and, yes, no boys she knew could compete. My husband was thrilled!

  4. I, too, have the obligatory crush on Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy, but I go back and forth on my Jane Austen leading men. I ADORE Jonny Lee Miller as Mr. Knightly, and J.J. Feild as Henry Tilney, but a quiz once placed me with Captain Wentworth as my ideal Austen man. I can't choose.


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