If you’ve ever had a crush, you know that feeling — that butterflies-in-your-stomach, giddy, excited and sometimes naughty feeling. You can feel that way for someone you’re attracted to, like a romantic partner, a friend or even a coworker. However, it’s important to understand that having a crush can be dangerous and may cause problems with your current relationship if you don’t take it seriously.
A crush is usually a positive experience, but it can be problematic if you’re in a committed relationship. The reason is that a crush can cause you to act in ways you wouldn’t normally and can lead to jealousy in your current partner. In addition, it can cause you to spend time focusing on your crush, which can leave you less time to focus on your own relationship.
Some people might find it hard to admit that they have a crush, but the signs are often obvious. For example, you might find yourself staring at them or looking for them in public places like school or work. You might also spend more time than usual texting them, calling them or hanging out with them. It’s important to remember that you should only talk about your crush with the people who you trust and who are aware of how important they are to you.
While there’s no clinical definition for a crush, there are some characteristics that distinguish it from a romantic interest or engagement, New York City-based therapist Bukky Kolawole tells INSIDER. Typically, crushes are rooted in fantasy and the person who has the crush tends to project their values onto the person they desire. “They’re often very idealistic and tend to have these idealized versions of their crush,” Kolawole says.
A common sign that you have a crush is that you’re always thinking about them and can’t stop thinking about them. You might even start obsessively researching their past, like what they did in their spare time before you met them, or looking up their Facebook profile. If you’re a shy person, having a crush can make you tongue-tied around them, or you might avoid talking to them altogether and become more quiet when they are around.
In the studies that looked at negative outcomes of having a crush, many participants cited moral concerns about their crush being some kind of betrayal or unfaithfulness in their primary relationship or inciting jealousy in their partners. Others reported that a crush made them feel awkward and uncomfortable. It’s important to recognize that a crush can be harmful to your current relationship and it’s okay to say something about your feelings if they are causing problems in the long term. If you decide to talk with your partner, it’s important to broach the topic in a calm and supportive manner that frames the crush as an opportunity to improve your relationship. For example, you could say, “I have a crush on my coworker and I want to try out some of the things I’ve been learning about our company. I think it would be a great idea for us to work together on this.”