Taylor Swift's advice to a fan about love was sweet, but not totally sound.
Let's start off by handing out kudos when they are earned. Taylor Swift did an incredibly image-enhancing and sweet thing for a fan. She responded to a Swifty who requested some love advice via Instagram. The topic of love is one in which Swift is well-versed, literally, since she often uses her lyrics as a place to spill the contents of her heart. If you date her, chances are you will end up as the thinly-veiled subject matter in one of her songs. It's true music-as-therapy.
The fan, named Hannah, explained that she has a crush on a boy she has known since they were single digits in age. She speaks in a parlance and vocab that would suggest she is 15, maybe 16, tops. She likes the boy. A lot. He has a pretty girlfriend with a good body, who is even nice to Hannah. No Mean Girls here.
But Hannah is crushing hard and fears the object of her affection will never like her back.
That's basic, Teenage Crush 101. But that's not how Swift assessed the matter.
"Okay. About this guy. I think we grow up thinking the only love that counts as true love is the kind that lasts forever or is fully realized. When you have a broken heart, the first thing a stranger will ask is ‘How long were you two together?' As if your pain can be determined by how long you were with someone. Or if you were with them at all. I don't think that's how it works. I think unrequited love is just as valid as any other kind. It's just as crushing and just as thrilling. No matter what happens in this situation, I want you to remember that what you are doing is selfless and beautiful and kind. You are loving someone purely because you love them, not because you think you'll ever have your affections reciprocated. You are admiring something for its beauty, without needing to own it. Feel good about being the kind of person who loves selflessly. I think someday you'll find someone who loves you in that exact same way."
Swift does make several really awesome points.
There is nothing I hate more than when someone asks me, post-breakup, how long I was with someone, as if there is a pain-o-meter for a broken heart that measures the intensity of pain by months or years you were in a relationship. The length of time doesn't matter; the depth of the passion does. So I've got to thank her for pointing that out.
The hardest part of ending is ending, followed by starting again. It sucks no matter the duration.
Plus, she is the queen of really short relationships — hell, her songs run longer than some of her flings and since her songs are infinite, they have much longer lifespans than the romances — so she probably gets that question about the time she spent with a lover ... a lot. She was with Harry Styles of One Direction for only about three months, and we are still discussing it almost two years removed.
But about that unrequited thing? It seems that Swift's objective was to reach out to Hannah to let her know that her feelings are absolutely valid, and that's important, since there is nothing worse than having adults dismiss your feelings when you are a teenager. All too often, many non-teens are quick to shrug off teen love as fleeting, unimportant, inexperienced, in the now and not life-changing when it is the opposite of all those things.
But honestly, it sounds like Hannah has a very typical teenage crush. We've all been there, done that. To call it "unrequited love" is overstating things.
Swift's point seems to be that it's okay to crush hard. All emotions are valid, a crush equally so.
But a crush is a crush is a crush. You get butterflies in your tummy. Your palms sweat. But it usually doesn't last.
If I unrequitedly loved every dude I crushed on, I would be all out of love and "get out of jail free" cards.
A crush is very different than the kind of love that is unreturned and changes you on a cellular level, when there is more at stake, like a ticking biological clock. To most people, that is the truest unrequited love, as opposed to desiring a boy, who is already loved up, from afar, when you are young with your whole life ahead of you.
Hannah will probably look back on the dude with the girlfriend in two years and be like, "OMG! WTF was I thinking when I liked him?! Ew!"
What's more, "unrequited love" is usually just obsession and self-absorption masking as affection for another person. Swift is great at this: She's always so sure that a guy's girlfriend is terrible and she's perfect for him, but that's because almost all of her relationships are in her own head. (Think "You Belong With Me," "Speak Now" or "Better Than Revenge" for starters.)
Don't even try and pretend like you haven't looked back on crushes in your history and had a "WTF" moment. Crushes are crushes; they are not great loves. They are a part of growing up and learning about love.