More or less quoting Dreaming Jewel's post, which I found very interesting... She has some questions regarding our behavior as readers when it comes to falling in love with various characters.
1. How often does it happen for you to fall in love with a character from a novel and how does it manifest itself (pure respect, ask him/her out for a coffee, take him/her home, shag him/her to death, follow him/her to the end of the world, etc.)?
Now that I'm thinking about it, I realise that it hasn't happen to me in a long time to fall in love with a character. Maybe my expectations have increased in time, or I'm just getting lazy and refuse to invest in them. I know I'm careful not to fall for my own characters because if I do then I can't torture them properly. LOL I remember as a teenager I used to fall in love with each of Al. Dumas' heroes and a couple of Paul Feval's too. Quite an unfaithful little thing I was, but I would have followed them to the end of the world if given the chance. Now I'm more reasonable, or lazy like I said. I would go out to have a coffee, but I would wait to be asked first and I would expect them to pay the bill too. My sacrifice would be big enough since I don't normally drink coffee, but for them I would make an exception. :P
2. Do you have the same standards for book characters as for real people?
Definitely not. I mean, it takes 300-500 pages to get to know a character and decide whether you like him or not, but it can take a lifetime to really know a person and discover that combination of things that makes you tick and compensates all the other flaws a person might have. It's tricky, but when you fall for an imaginary person the rules change and it's easy to ignore some of the facts that otherwise would drive you mad in real life and possibly put you behind bars. It's also incredibly easy to pretend that the character has *insert long list of* problems, but treated with proper care, and lots of love too, he would change, which in real life rarely happens.
3. Does the sex of the characters matter when you're drawn to them?
It does. Maybe because, being straight, it's normal for me to be attracted to male characters, but also because I don't often find female characters likable enough. They're either annoying, whining, frustrated, depressed, self-righteous, undecided, helpless or, God forbid, Mary Sue-ish. And if the novel happens to be written from the POV of such character, it can make you wanna run up the hills screaming... On the other hand, if it's a male character you know from the start that he can't be perfect, so you strip away the parts you don't like, keep the ones you do, and then dream about living happily ever after.
4. Would you rather identify with the characters or fall in love with them?
I seem to be unable to fully identify with a character - after all we're all unique, right? - so I'll go for the second option. Besides, it's always wonderful to fall in love, isn't it? :)