A crush used to be a cute kids thing. A way to describe some sort of (hetero) attraction between two kids without making it too adult/sexual. It’s a crush. How adorable. Then it became a way of saying that you want to date someone. A crush was like-liking someone before anyone makes a move. My definition of crush is somewhere before the like-liking someone but also exists separate from that path.
A few years ago, I felt attracted to someone who I could not/would not pursue romantically. I told my best friend, “That’s J. I have decided I have a crush on him. I am not pursuing him; we work together and he is married. But I think he’s cute and I feel warm inside when he smiles at me so I have a crush and that is it.” And so began my new definition of a crush.
My crushes are about acknowledging (and enjoying) various types of attraction at various levels. Sometimes I just like looking at them, sometimes I am sexually attracted to them, sometimes I would like to be friends, sometimes I just like the way they make me feel or admire their style. Whatever it is, I keep it simple; identify the crush, determine what type of attraction(s) is going on, and continue to enjoy the presence of said crush.
I can be attracted to someone but not in full on I wanna date you and love you and fuck you kind of way. Often a crush is because I see/know someone and feel attracted to some aspect of them. So I say I have a crush and enjoy whatever I like about them when I’m around them and that is it and that’s fine. It’s just a crush. I wouldn’t say I have a crush on someone I actually fully like and want to date and get sexy with. I’d just say I want to date that person and start trying to flirt or something. My crushes cover a wide range of attraction-types.
I get crushes on women a lot. Physical-attraction-based crushes. Like a girl I see on the same bus most mornings (I’m very inconsistent in the morning; I don’t get the same bus at the same time everyday) that I think is cute/pretty/just something about her draws my eye. So I look at her an inappropriate amount but it’s okay because I’m always wearing my sunglasses (I am very uncomfortable in public without them; god forbid I ever make eye contact with a stranger) but I am not an actual creep so I would never do anything to actually get her attention or god forbid talk to her (absolute nightmare situation to be trapped on a bus with someone who is too interested in you. Which is any level of interest when you’re on a bus). I call this a crush; acknowledging attraction without any expectations.
Also, only with women, I get Do I want to be her or be in her? crushes. Not sure if I’m attracted to her because she is just giving me amazing boss lady vibes that I find attractive just as another woman who wants to feel boss or am I attracted to her vibes like I want to be around you all the time and maybe kiss you because you’re amazing. But it’s fine because it’s still just a crush and I just acknowledge that I feel something around this person and enjoy their presence, however it makes me feel.
The only type of crush that I’d actually pursue is a friendship crush. It feels safe to pursue friendship. Rejection still hurts but it’s never really inappropriate to let someone know you are interested in their friendship. I only have a couple close friends; I don’t really have a friend group, so I’m always friend-crushing on cool people my age that I assume are having more friend fun than I am.
Being crushed by a crush hurts. But not so much when I’m keeping a crushable distance from my crushes with my it’ll never happen it’s just a crush type of crushes. Being crushed by a crush only happens when you’re actually invested in the crush going somewhere and it’s shut down before it can move beyond a crush.
Having a friend crush crushed stings in a different way. That’s much harder for me. If a romantic crush doesn’t like me then it’s “Oh well, that wasn’t the person for me.” I know as well as anyone that romantic/sexual attraction is very tricky and it’s rare to find a good fit. No skin off my back or whatever that disgusting phrase is. But a friend crush feels like you can’t go wrong because there are so many levels of friendship. From acquaintance to casual to workplace to friends who only do this one activity, all the way up to top tier best friendship. With that whole range, you’d think that if you’re feeling something friendship-like with someone, there must be something between you two, some common ground to forge some level of friendship. So being crushed by a friend crush, well that feels like a harsher rejection. Romantic rejection is like okay I’m not one in a million; that doesn’t feel so personal but- wow, I can’t even make a friend? What is wrong with me? (Don’t open that can of worms because there are a lot of them).
But I continue to have crushes. I look at someone I already know one day and think “Oh, shit” something has changed and I am suddenly very into what you’ve got going on. Crush activated. And if I can keep it just a crush then it’s just fun to feel whatever nice feeling I get from that crush when I see them. Crushes can drive you a little insane when you’re pursuing more than a crush. But at that point you gotta just woman up and go for it. If you never ask the answer is always no. It’s true! Live in crush limbo forever (or until it fades because nothing is happening) or get rejected and move on to the next crush. I suppose the other option is they return your crush and then something else happens but I can’t speak to that. I only know about unrequited crushes.