What do you think about Sansa's crush on Loras? Do you think it means something that no matter how much she seems to grow as a character she still holds a crush over some pretty knight that never really seemed to care about her and she still imagines him when she kisses people (even if her thoughts get directed back to sandor)
Well… Loras is a very safe crush.
Loras plays the role for Sansa that teen heartthrobs do for many adolescent girls, a safe exploration of their growing sexuality.
The idolization of teen idols typically begins in early adolescence when girls start to become interested in romance and dating and more aware of social norms which suggest that they should have romantic feelings for someone of the opposite sex (Simon, Eder, & Evans, 1992). Rather than dating in real life, developing a crush on a teen idol is a way for girls to acknowledge their emerging sexual feelings in a safe, non-threatening way (Engle & Kasser, 2005). Because teen boys are viewed by girls as only interested in sex (McRobbie, 1991), teen idols are a preferable option. Further, they often project a feminine form of masculinity that is sexually non-threatening and thus accessible to young girls (Engle &: Kasser, 2005; Karniol, 2001; McRobbie, 1991; Sweeney, 1994).
One of the most popular ways people like to hate teenage girls is to complain about their “insane” crushes on boy band members. Now, let me fucking tell you something: those big dumb crushes are what helps a teenage girl develop her sexuality in a safe environment that she can control. In her world, she can listen to One Direction and hear all these songs about how great she is, and how much these cute non-threatening boys want to make her feel special. Why is this so important? Because no one is pushing them. There’s no fourteen year old boy shoving his clammy hands down your shirt without your consent. These fantasy boys are not convincing a girl to send naked pictures, only to show all their friends and call her a slut. In the fantasy land of boy bands, the girl has all the power. And we need to stop judging them for wanting to escape into that.
–Meghan Harper, “Why I Fucking Love Teenage Girls”
ASOIAF is a medieval-style world, so it of course doesn’t have pop idols and movie stars, but it does have tournaments and tourney champions, who play that role for the adolescent girls of Westeros. (And the boys, too. Consider Bran’s idolization of knights, especially the Kingsguard.) And Loras Tyrell is not just one of the best upcoming stars of the tourney scene, but he’s
so dreamy handsome, young, and from one of the best families of Westeros. (Even Robert Baratheon crushes on him, in a manly way.)
Now, the fact that Loras is actually gay (as are so many teen heartthrobs - George Michael, we miss you) makes him even safer, whether Sansa consciously realizes it or not. This is all the more important, since because of the close circles of Westeros aristocracy, Sansa Stark has far more of a chance of personally interacting with Loras Tyrell than your typical teenage girl has with her most beloved Bieber or Zayn.
So when Sansa actually has the opportunity to meet Loras, is even led to believe she might marry him… the expression of her sexuality, while very real, is also very safe:
The sight of Ser Loras Tyrell standing on her threshold made Sansa’s heart beat a little faster.
Sansa was finding it hard to walk and talk and think all at the same time, with Ser Loras touching her arm.
I am talking to him, and he’s touching me, he’s holding my arm and touching me.
Desperately she tried to think of something clever and charming to say to him, but her wits had deserted her. She almost told him how beautiful he was, until she remembered that she’d already done that.
Ser Loras in white silk, so pure, innocent, beautiful. The dimples at the corner of his mouth when he smiled. The sweetness of his laugh, the warmth of his hand. She could only imagine what it would be like to pull up his tunic and caress the smooth skin underneath, to stand on her toes and kiss him, to run her fingers through those thick brown curls and drown in his deep brown eyes. A flush crept up her neck.
–ASOS, Sansa I
Or, for a visual representation:
Now, the trouble (or not?) is that this safe crush of Sansa’s is no longer something she can rely on. Whether it’s because of her aging into womanhood, or because of her actual experiences with sexuality – the dark masculine danger of Sandor Clegane, her marriage to Tyrion Lannister (including seeing him nude and sleeping next to him in bed for weeks), the explicit rape threats of Joffrey Baratheon and Marillion, the disturbing attentions and unfatherly kisses of Petyr Baelish – when she wishes to escape into her formerly favorite safe fantasy of Loras Tyrell, it twists away from her into something else:
Before she could summon the servants, however, Sweetrobin threw his skinny arms around her and kissed her. It was a little boy’s kiss, and clumsy. Everything Robert Arryn did was clumsy. If I close my eyes I can pretend he is the Knight of Flowers. Ser Loras had given Sansa Stark a red rose once, but he had never kissed her… and no Tyrell would ever kiss Alayne Stone. Pretty as she was, she had been born on the wrong side of the blanket.
As the boy’s lips touched her own she found herself thinking of another kiss. She could still remember how it felt, when his cruel mouth pressed down on her own. He had come to Sansa in the darkness as green fire filled the sky. He took a song and a kiss, and left me nothing but a bloody cloak.
–AFFC, Alayne II
Note that there are many analyses of “the unkiss” (link 1, link 2), Sansa’s imagined memory of being kissed by Sandor the night of the Blackwater, but what many point out is that it is again an attempt by Sansa of a safe fantasy, a subconscious attempt to control and understand and romanticize a frightening sexually-charged situation. It’s just several octaves away from her non-threatening fantasies of kissing and touching the “beautiful” Loras.
And though you say Sansa still holds this crush, please note that Loras is only mentioned in Sansa’s narrative once in AFFC (that scene above), where she recognizes that Loras’s attentions were nothing real, no kisses, just a rose. Also, when she thinks about the men who helped her in King’s Landing, Loras is not one of them. Furthermore, he’s not mentioned at all in her TWOW preview chapter – which, considering it focuses on an upcoming tourney and the young knights who wish to be its champions, should be a perfect occasion for the pretty knight Loras to stroll through Sansa’s head, and yet he does not.
So I would say that Sansa’s adolescent crush on Loras is something perfectly understandable… and also something she has outgrown. I hope that helps!