A crush is defined as a brief infatuation with someone. When we find someone attractive we tend to fantasize romantically.
Sometimes this can be in an obsessive fashion, tiring out our brains. We can lose sleep as our thoughts are running wild.
The potent feelings that come with the short-lived attraction are often very intense and can be confused for falling in love.
Most crushes fizzle out pretty quickly, everyone has had a crush but here are some weird and wonderful facts about crushes that you may have heard.
1) Most crushes have a 4-month cap
The initial attraction we have to anyone fades over time, when our information about them we can infatuate over what we know and crushes form more easily.
2) A long crush could be an indicator of a medical condition
If you experience a powerful crush for a prolonged period you may need to consult a doctor.
Long-term crushes with unhealthy thought processes can develop into a psychological condition known as limerence.
Limerence occurs when your thoughts are flooded with another person in an intrusive way. It is an involuntary interpersonal state of obsession that can stem from childhood developmental issues and traumas.
Often people who experience it crave emotional reciprocation. The thoughts are uncontrollable and overwhelming. It can be so all-consuming that it produces worrying physical symptoms such as trouble breathing!
3) Fantasies are always better than the reality
Romance is always fanciful in the movies and far less romanticized in real life.
The reason is it’s scripted when we fantasize about a crush we often put a rose-tinted spin on everything. We create a story that is positive and in our favor.
Reality goes off-script and has a lot more gravity, so it is never as good as anything our starry-eyed imaginations can come up with.
4) Our crushes make us nervous
When we are around someone we are attracted to our stress levels rise.
This can present itself in the form of nervous habits. You might not know what to do with your hands or find yourself fidgeting uncontrollably.
Women may adjust and readjust their hair or clothes, play with earrings for example.
The Art of Body Talk author Maryann Karinch says “Attraction often involves a kind of tension we might call ‘good stress. Whether stress is caused by something ‘good’ or ‘bad,’ however, the body has some similar responses. On a date with someone you find exciting, and who finds you exciting, these self-soothing movements might occur more frequently.”
5) Chicken or Egg?
Sometimes we are told that someone else likes us, this gives us a positive little boost to our self-esteem and the experience has a knock-on effect. So it can confuse things. Are you genuinely crushing, or is their crush luring you in?
The psychological attraction forms from the positive feelings and boom! Suddenly someone you had never looked twice at becomes very interesting the next time you bump into them.
Some crushes can form almost instantaneously from a flattering compliment.
It can create a complicated situation in the case of people who have been in your social circle for a while.
So make sure you aren’t reading too deeply into something that was merely a friendly plaudit.
6) The frequency bias
The Baader Meinhof Phenomenon, for those unfamiliar, is the complicated name given to the effect of noticing something much more frequently once it is planted in your mind.
You might take notice of a friend’s new purchase and then seemingly see it everywhere around you, in other people’s homes, on the TV, on articles, and on the radio.
Crushes are no different, psychologists say that once you learn the name of a crush for example, or one of their interests you will inevitably notice it much more.
It was always present but never took your attention previously.
7) It’s all in the eyes
Did you know there are a few tell-tale signs that are hard to hide if someone has a crush on you? Research shows that if someone likes you, then their pupils dilate when they see you.
Try looking into the eyes of someone you like, maintain eye contact for longer than 10 seconds, and see if the crush is reciprocated.
8) Honest confession
People put their foot in their mouth around crushes, the blurt out wild, often very personal things, kicking themselves on the inside.
Because of the nerves that we get when we are around someone we are attracted to, we are less able to control what we say.
This makes it much harder to lie to them. We confess to impress.
9) Racing pulse
It sounds cliché but having a crush on someone doesn’t make your heart race…and not just when you see them in person.
Little things such as receiving a text, generate the brain to release a rush of epinephrine and norepinephrine into your bloodstream and your heart beats a little faster than usual.
10) Crush curiosity
When we are attracted to somebody, we have a desire to get to know them. If a conversation is very question based it can be a sign of romantic attraction.
A 2014 study found that anyone interested in you will ask with sincerity, listen to your responses attentively and offer information about themselves freely.
11) Crushing on someone is addictive
Lots of relationships fizzle out, early on when everything is new we are full of hormones and endorphins.
When we have a crush the same chemicals are flowing. You may have heard of oxytocin, it’s the hormone responsible for helping a mother bond with a newly born child.
It is very powerful and when it is no longer circling in your system it can be akin to drug withdrawal. Your mood lowers, you are easily frustrated, and grumpy for no reason.
12) Subconscious attention seeking
When someone is attracted to you they might draw physical attention to themselves. Often it is something they’re not consciously aware of.
The person will physically gesture toward features they have, more often than not these are sexy areas of the body such as the lips, hips, chest, and neck.
We try to present ourselves as alluring. It can be seen throughout the animal kingdom, animals stretching or puffing up their chest.
Accomplished therapist Laura Richerpoints points out some of the psychology behind it in her article at bustle.
Be on the lookout for some of these subtle signs if someone wants to get to know you better.
13) Crushes and love are chemically equal
As Stephanie Cacioppo explains, the mood-boosting hormones dopamine and oxytocin are released when we develop a crush.
The same hormones are present when we love someone so the two can make us feel essentially the same way.
So, although one is far more serious than the other, the way we feel when we have a crush can be indistinguishable from true love.
We all want what we can’t have, when something is unavailable or off-limits, we unsurprisingly want it a little more.
It is how the brain is wired psychologically when it comes to our crushes as well.
If you try to distract your thoughts from someone you’re obsessing over or trick yourself into caring less by pretending you don’t miss them, you will only crave their company tenfold.
15) Personal grooming
We like to look our best in front of people we are attracted to.
So if they are always on point when you’re around it could be an indicator. Pay attention to whether or not they are constantly preening themselves in your presence.
Broadening posture, retouching their hair, or adjusting their clothes could be a big hint at something more.
16) Inability to focus
People have an inward focus when they are around someone they find attractive. This makes outer focus more difficult. They may come across as awkward even because they are overthinking.
“People act differently when they are around someone they are attracted to because they want to make the best impression,” Margaret Stone, a licensed therapist and dating coach says.
“Wanting to make the best impression has the person turning their focus inward toward themselves and making judgments and self-assessments about their own looks, behaviors, and statements.”
17) Crushes are grown from seeds
The person who is crushing tends to project their values onto the person they desire:
Therapist Dr. Bukky Kolawole explains how we project values onto our crushes. “You have little pieces of information and what you see, you are drawn to in that person” the rest is supposition.
Essentially we construct what we think a person is like based on a tiny idea.
With genuine romantic interest, we are eager to find out more and base our judgments on real-life experiences and interactions with them instead of imagining it.
18) Chemical cocktail hangover
Your striatum or the “pleasure center” of your brain is active when you have a crush.
It releases the chemical dopamine, which plays the most important role in how we feel and associate pleasure.
It dominates the human experience, and we experience its release when we enjoy something or are immensely satisfied.
19) Laughter as flattery
Laughter is something that bonds all humans. Ultimately when we are crushing, we want to be liked.
Have you ever found yourself laughing at jokes that aren’t even funny?
This is something we do socially to flatter a person, whether they are an acquaintance, colleague, or potential love interest.
The psychological drive is to build a bond and come across as approachable and likable.
20) Vocal cues
If you are wondering who might have their eye on you the answer could lie in the sound of their voice.
Studies have shown that the pitch and tone of someone’s voice change when they are around people they are attracted to.
If a coworker always gets a little louder when your strolling by their cubicle, maybe they want you to notice them?
21) Crushes are out of our control
Crushes are often intensely described, it can be like a spiraling whirlwind. Falling in love on the other hand is a slower process.
So although biologically speaking they give us the same pleasurable chemical cocktail and endorphin rush they are distinctly different.
Assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral neuroscience, Stephanie Cacioppo, at The University of Chicago, describes the two as being “on different planes“. She highlights that a crush is more urgent.
22) Raunchy red
Studies show that we all find red a sexy color, even if in general we don’t like the color personally we find people dressed in it much more attractive.
Both men and women that both perceive it as more sexual.
Many people wear warmer colors around crushes even if it is a subconscious act!
23) Mirroring one another
We instinctively mirror the body language of people we are interested in. It is extremely evident in romance. Ever noticed how couples seem to pick up on one another’s little habits and traits?
Psychologically this is to make them feel comfortable, it shows we are comfortable with the same behavior and lets them know they can be themselves.
When you interact with someone and find they are taking on some of your gestures or sitting in the same position as you, you might have a crush!
Perhaps they have added a word or phrase to their vocabulary that they have clearly adopted from you?
24) Some crushes prevail
Crushes can develop into relationships. The big difference is the level of distance. Dr. Bukky Kolawole (New York City-based therapist) says“With crushing, you’re OK with the distance because you’re not fully in it yet“.
You can look from afar and fantasize, interaction in person starts to build an attachment system between you.
The brain then reacts differently to experiences with or without this person, for example missing them when they are not around.
25) The glow of attraction
Let’s finish with a strange one…Someone who likes you might literally glow- and we are not talking red with embarrassment.
We secrete more oil when we are attracted to someone.
Sounds weird but your pores open if you are falling for someone. The extra oil gives your skin a shinier appearance. Who knew?
What to do if you’ve developed a crush?
As with any new relationship, be it platonic or otherwise takes time to form. Having a crush gives urges as we have explored with some of our facts.
But, if a crush is one-sided the other person may feel ambushed by you. Keep your feelings and wants out of interactions, to begin with. Especially if you know very little about your crush, or worse still haven’t formally met them, which happens a lot in modern times.
We also touched on how quickly a crush can fade once you know more about somebody. So providing the other person isn’t completely disinterested;
- Take it slow.
- Avoid ambushing them with your feelings
- Give each other the chance to get to the other
If you know the person somewhat more beforehand and haven’t just been lurking on their social profiles, you can try being a little more direct.
In this situation, it is down to you to access comfort levels between you both. With a crush developed between people who are already close, there is more at risk but you may be bold enough to just put your feelings out there.
- Again go slow
- Invite them to do something with you outside of your regular social setting
- Flirt and see if they are responsive
- Probe with ambiguous questions that may help you learn more about how they perceive and feel about you
- Tell them how you feel responsibly if you feel the moment is right
If either of you already has a partnership then you need to think carefully. You should never act on a crush when other people could end up being collateral damage.
The crush may blow over, it may never even get off the ground. So, discuss things with your crush honestly and consider your commitments.
When a crush fails…
Crushes can be tricky to get over, going cold-turkey from the cocktail of happy chemicals is rough.
It can knock your confidence after you confess your feelings to someone only to find they feel indifferent towards you.
Being knocked back by a crush or watching what you thought was the love of your life evaporate into nothing is no reflection on your worth.
Most of the time it is a case of incompatibility fueled by the inability to see clearly because of the psychological urges you experience in your crush’s presence.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a one-size heals-all solution. Just rest in the fact that you’re not alone, crushes happen and you will likely have many more before you settle down.
But the following suggestions might help make your next failed crush less emotionally ‘crushing’.
Give it time
Most people can relate to the agony of having your crush-hopes amount to nothing.
Regardless of whether you face actual rejection or keep your thoughts to yourself the ache and the misery are intense.
Luckily, crushes are a temporary infatuation and the strength of your feelings will steadily decrease over time.
How much time you need differs from crush to crush but it is important to make sure you take care of yourself whilst you are purging your crush from your system.
- Get plenty of sleep and exercise
- Use positive self-talk
- Relax, you could try meditation or yoga
- Spend time outdoors
Don’t be consumed by your feelings
Feelings are important to express but it’s unhealthy to dwell. If you mentally revisit the pain or relieve the rejection you will take far longer to move on.
You could even miss the next romantic opportunity.
If you find your mind circling negatively
- Accept the feelings as they arrive, explore them productively, but mindfully let them go
- If they are particularly raw, set them aside mentally for now
- Practice a hobby or skill
- Doing activities you enjoy will bring the same dopamine rush
Talk it out
Talking can be beneficial in helping us work through our emotions. Share how you feel with someone you think will understand.7
Having another opinion should help you to gain perspective/ If you have no one to lean on or your crush has to remain a secret for one reason or another then try writing a letter or roleplaying the conversation
- Hang with supportive friends when you are ready for company
- Confide in somebody mutual who knows you and your crush well
- Keep a diary
- Tell your faithful family pet who can’t spread the gossip!
Abstain from social media
In our modern world, we all suffer from a little FOMO. We want to be involved in what is going on so we tend to check out what we are missing via social media.
Wanting to scroll through your crush’s feed is natural. But if the crush is a no-go then creeping through their photos is only torturing yourself. Try and lay low on social media for a while, give yourself some ‘you time’.
Social media leads us to fantasize about being involved in other people’s lives. With a failed crush this is a recipe for disaster.
Your mood and feelings will only worsen. Blocking and unfriending is probably a little too drastic but you can unfollow them in your feed for a month or two. Here are some ‘no-no’s’ to avoid;
- Don’t check for posts specifically from them
- Never look up their relationship status
- Refrain from posting things you hope will get their attention
- Remember social media posts present an idealized version of reality
Get back out there!
There is nothing like having somebody new catch your eye, to lift the misery of a failed crush.
While you shouldn’t be in a rush to get dating, it doesn’t hurt if you approach it with clarity.
You have to know what it is you are looking for in a partner. Try and identify what didn’t work in the past and why?
At the very least, heartache aside, suffering through each crush can serve as a learning opportunity.
Bottom line, post-crush you need to find a way of moving on. A new partner could be just the ticket, but make sure you aren’t jumping from one crush to the next- forever unrequited.
If you seem prone to uncontrollable, seemingly ill-fated, infatuation after infatuation then there could be a deeper underlying psychological reason. So be mindful, explore your behavior, and perhaps even consider the counsel of a therapist.
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