Buffy and Angel.
Sookie and Bill.
Bella and Edward.
Damon & Elena.
Selene and Michael.
Vampire-human relationships aren’t exactly new. But why do they seem to capture our collective imaginations?
Sure, vampires are cool and creepy with their super-powers and their fondness for a pint of the red stuff. But what is it about these supernatural creatures that seems to so often translate to sexy and mysterious?
What is our fascination with vampires all about, anyway?
Personally, I think the answer goes a bit deeper than the obvious ‘tall, dark, brooding stranger’ (who just so happens to have those aforementioned special abilities that makes them stand out from the crowd). Often, vampires are depicted as more than just immortal – never aging, their bodies never growing old and weak as our human vessels do.
And clearly, that’s something that appeals to us – with so many of us under pressure to look youthful and beautiful as long as we possibly can – being sold anti-wrinkle creams and anti-aging this and that, being encouraged to dye our hair to cover up the grey. And not just women, men are under this same pressure, too. The idea of a being that is frozen at a perfect moment in time (preferably say, around early 20s – old enough to drink and drive and do all the fun stuff, but not enough to look OLD, you know?)
But I think the reason why we are so fascinated with vampires – why they always come back into fashion again, even after periods of falling out of favour (and I won’t point any fingers, but I will say Edward’s sparkling-in-the-sunshine thing probably didn’t do vampire-kind many favours in terms of encouraging public popularity, let’s be honest). I think the reason why we always come back to our continued fixation with these strange creatures is linked to the reason they usually are shown as never aging, or aging at an incredible slow rate. It’s the immortality.
Not to get too deep and heavy (on what is, let’s face it, a pretty light-hearted question) but most of us are pretty afraid of death. Either because we’re not sure what really will happen to us ‘after’, and the unknown is always scary. Or because we don’t believe there IS anything ‘after’, which is scary in its own way. Or simply because, despite all the inevitable ups and downs we all experience, being alive is pretty fucking incredible. And the highs – falling in love, time spent with loved ones, finally achieving a long-held goal or dream – we just aren’t ready to give that up.
My grandfather, who I was very close to and who was an amazing human being, lived until the pretty respectable age of 93. I was lucky enough to be able to say goodbye to him before he left this earthly plane of existence, and when I did, he told me something I will never forget.
“It’s never enough. No matter how long. You always want more.”
Because we knew he didn’t have much time left to be here with us, and he wanted to share with me one last morsel of wisdom before he left. Because he wanted me to make the most of every single moment that I have – because we never truly know when it will end. Even if we’re one of the lucky ones, and we get to live a long, rich life, just like my grandad – in the end, we still hope for just a little bit more time, a little bit longer with the ones we love. Just a little bit more.
So imagine, having the power to never have to give up all the wonders and the joys that being here on Earth gives us. How amazing – to never have to worry about, or fear death. And to never fear aging, that particular bonus side-effect doesn’t hurt either. But mostly, I think we continue to come back to vampires (and other supernatural immortals too, but vampires especially) because we want to ask ourselves – what would it be like? To truly be immortal? To never fear death?
For many people, the major deal-breaker that inevitably comes along with the ‘gift’ of immortality (though it could just as easily be argued to be a curse) would be the pain, the sorrow and loss that you would undoubtedly have to pay as the price for never facing death. And especially, losing the people you love, sooner or later, and becoming more lonely over time.
I think it’s this push-pull fascination with immortality and death that brings us back to those pointy-toothed bloodsuckers again and again. And where better than to explore all of these ideas, all of our fears and wonders and dreams, than in stories, in fiction? Through our tales of these fantasy creatures, we can tour even the darkest of our own imaginings, knowing that in reality, we are safe.
As for the human-vampire attraction – well I think it’s inevitable, when you think of where our persistent fascination with the fanged ones stems from. How far would you go for immortality? Could you give up your humanity for it? Could you kill? Could you feed?
And if a vampire is the eternal loner, then of course, as humans, we want to find a way to give them a mate. To find the humanity in them, even when, if you’d been killing and drinking humans for hundreds of years, let’s face it, it’s probably pretty unlikely you’d be snuggling up with one at the end of the night. But the darkness, the danger, is surely part of their appeal, their mysterious allure. Could a creature like that exist, and yet somehow hold on to some spark of their soul? To remember how to love?
I think that we love the idea of it, even if we know it doesn’t make complete sense. But like I said before – isn’t this what stories do best? Help us to explore our fantasies – what could be, the only limit our imaginations. That’s why I fell in love with stories, anyway.
So what do you think? Are human-vampire relationships creepy?
If it were an actual thing, I’d probably be more inclined to say yes. But as a way for us to explore our own subconscious ideas, dreams, and fears around aging, death, and immortality, I’d say they’re actually a pretty positive thing.
Plus, let’s face it. Vampires ARE dark, sexy, (a little bit dangerous) and mysterious. And stories about them are FUN.
That’s why you’ll find them (among quite a few other supernatural creatures) in my novel, Call of the Siren, if you decide to read it (check out the first chapter for free here).
But tell me what you think about this in the comments below – I’d love to hear from you!
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