The Heathcliff Theory

“Heathcliff,” of course, refers to Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights, not the annoying cartoon cat. Heathcliff is a pretty tragic guy: he runs around making everyone miserable, nabbing people’s fortunes and generally being unpleasant to everyone in his incestuous little moor neighborhood. Why, then, am I strangely drawn to him?

He’s horrible because someone broke his heart. He loved so deeply that, when it went wrong, he lost his damn mind. It’s tragic and goth as fuck, but it’s also kind of romantic because it never happens anymore. In present day, Heathcliff could have just deleted Catherine from his friends list, moved to another town and pretended she never existed. He’d either shrug her off and get over it or end up drinking himself to death in the privacy of his own home. Or he could pretend he was OK and whore around with every girl he knew, subconsciously taking out his wounds on every girl who would have him. Or he’d just become married to his work. I have seen male friends do pretty much all of the above. At any rate, he probably wouldn’t end up exhuming the skeleton of his beloved, just so he can sleep next to her. (Toldja. Goth as fuck.)

To get back on-task, I think women are drawn to Heathcliff because, even in his complete dysfunctional insanity, he’s still an example of a male heart that, while surrounded by rocky crags, is secretly very delicate.* It’s the double-edged sword: any man capable of feeling anything deeply enough to be driven insane by it is probably worth knowing. Unfortunately, he is also insane.

This isn’t simply the old “women find a bad boy and want to ‘fix’ him” phenomenon. I have never been particularly into that one, as it seems like a lot of work to put into something that doesn’t come with a 401k and full dental. I have actual craft projects; I don’t want to date one.

The thing that makes me drawn to Heathcliff isn’t that he’s messed up. It’s that he felt deeply enough to get messed up.

Ladies, don’t lecture me. I didn’t say I was seeking Heathcliff. The fantasy of Heathcliff and the reality of him are two very different things, and not something to tackle unless you thrive on drama and don’t mind never getting a good night’s sleep. I am not seeking Heathcliff. I’m seeking Rochester. You see…I’m still screwed.

*You heard me. I used the moors in the story as a metaphor for Healthcliff’s heart. Rocky, but blessed with fertile soil. Do not front on my mad 10th grade English skillz.

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