A crush is a sudden intense longing for someone with whom you probably have low or no chance of ever becoming a couple. It’s a kind of secret love, an unrequited attraction that causes us to fantasize about them, and it can affect our mood and behavior. Unlike infatuation, a crush can be difficult to manage and isn’t always a good thing. It can lead to self-destructive behaviors, such as binge-eating or a risky sexual affair. It can also be a positive force, such as when it leads to an important career achievement or a creative breakthrough.
A lot of people think of a crush as a form of romantic love, but there are some differences between them. A crush and feelings of love both release the mood-boosting hormones dopamine and oxytocin in the brain, but a crush typically involves a more short-lived and more fleeting reaction than a full-on relationship. “With a crush, your heart rate goes up, your blood pressure rises, you get that butterflies-in-the-stomach feeling and obsessive thinking,” Psychologist Stephanie Cacioppo tells INSIDER. “Infatuation, on the other hand, is more gradual and can be much longer-lasting.”
Streaming platforms like Hulu have been a leader in the recent rash of young adult romance comedies that rely on teen characters who feel nothing but cardboard cutouts. Crush is a little different from the rest, however, because it takes a refreshingly straightforward approach to its story about a queer high school romance. Starring Rowan Blanchard (The Goldbergs), Crush is directed by Sammi Cohen and written by Kirsten King and Casey Rackham.
The film focuses on Paige, an aspiring artist who has a crush on her classmate Gabby. When her obsession with the track team member pushes her to reluctantly join, she finds herself juggling her friendships, dating life, and art ambitions. While there are some enjoyable moments in the movie, such as a surprisingly funny performance by Megan Mullally (Will and Grace) as Paige’s over-sharing mother, it’s easy to see why so many viewers might be bored by the script’s predictable plot and lack of genuine emotion or excitement.
In an effort to make sense of crush, we enlisted the help of clinical psychologist and host of The Hook Up, Crysta Derham. She joined us to talk about the difference between a crush and true love, why crushing isn’t always bad, and how you can tell if yours is actually something worth it.