The Helga Effect

Relationships Suck 05:13 Nov 16, 2012 · Features · By Mika Ilic

“Stupid football-head ... how I love you.”

Have you ever been so infatuated with someone it hurt? Where every encounter elicits anxiety and a fluttering heart and where every ounce of thought is straining to make sure you don’t sound stupid.

Worst of all, you want things to happen but for whatever reason, it just hasn’t happened yet.

It all sounds very high school, doesn’t it? Well it might have been rampant during that time but that doesn’t mean it stops being a legitimate situation as years go by.

This particular situation, the one where you are pining from afar (be it physical or emotional distance), is one I shall refer to as the Helga Effect.

Some of you might have an idea of what I am referring to, but for those who are unaware of what I’m referring to, I’m referencing a character from Hey, Arnold!

Helga was deeply in love with the main character Arnold and you would see her expressing her devotion frequently, but behind everyone’s back.

To his face, she was a completely different person. In fact, she was a bully (how Arnold stayed so civil with her is beyond me).

The two aspects to take away here are the emotional hang-up from afar and the change of personality. Both may not manifest themselves fully but they do appear.

Having feelings for someone in itself is not unhealthy. It’s how you react and use these feelings that can be problematic.

Some people will look from a distance, be it in class or on a bus for example, and refrain from any interaction. I can’t speak for everyone but most of the reasons I’ve heard for not approaching them is because they are “waiting for the right moment,” which really means they are afraid.

Then there are those who are on speaking terms with the object of their affection. These people usually send telepathic messages to the other person in hopes that it coerces them to make a move.

I’ve found the same reason stops them from taking a step forward, which is that the moment is not right.

As for changing personality, everybody does that. Whether it’s slight, where the person laughs at everything or acts so much happier than they should, or extreme, where the person tries to be “cool” or distant.

Some people even go to the extreme, following the person or almost completely rejecting their presence to portray a certain image.

Whatever characteristics those affected by the Helga Effect choose to play, it’s unhealthy. Distance or not, make a move.

What about rejection? What about embarrassment? What if they say no? All of these questions are irrelevant because nothing good comes from holding in pent-up emotions. Yes or no, you’ll be better off emotionally and physically.

Don’t change how you act either. Act according to how you are feeling and don’t overextend yourself. It never works and even if it does, are you going to keep playing that game forever?

Helga had her heart in the right place in the show. She really did like Arnold, but the idea that he could never love her was not plausible. Somebody should have told her it was totally possible, but you will never know until you try.

Plus, we hated her, but as the show went on, you could see they were meant to be. It was children programming at its finest (not like now, where you don’t even get to see them kiss).

If kids can see the answer as plainly as those around you, what does that tell you about what you should do?

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