Recognizing a Crush

A crush can be a feeling of intense infatuation, often short-lived, with someone you do not know well. It might feel like your heart is racing every time you see them, or it could be a schoolmate, classmate, neighbor, co-worker or even someone from the media who you feel drawn to because of their popularity. The person may make you feel all kinds of emotions — from butterflies to giddy euphoria – and this is normal. But sometimes, these feelings can get out of hand, especially when they are not reciprocated. Having a crush can also lead to negative consequences for your current relationship, and it is important to recognize it as something different from true love.

The term crush probably derives from the verb to “crush” or “mash.” In the 1800s, a mashed potato was similar to what is now a crushed potato. A masher was a guy who flirted with young ladies by giving them crafty glimpses or smooth lines of conversation. It was common for young women to have a crush on the handsome man down at the beach, the bartender or the waiter in the restaurant.

Crush, starring Rowan Blanchard as an aspiring artist who develops a crush on a schoolmate, does avoid some of the typical teen movie cliches such as chasing the object of one’s affection around the school, but it is hard to escape a sense that this is a film that is missing something essential. What is missing is a sense of youthful mischief and, perhaps, a touch of scandalous fun, both of which are integral to capturing the sense of excitement that comes from having a crush.

When you are crushing on someone, your palms might sweat, and you might find it hard to breathe. Your throat might tighten and your stomach might twist into knots, and all you want is to spend some time with this person. Whether it is the boy from your Chemistry class or the girl who lives next door, seeing this person makes your day.

The way your body reacts to someone you have a crush on is called the fight-or-flight response. This causes a rapid pulse, increased oxygen intake and pale skin, among other changes, and it is designed to prepare the body for danger. This is why it is so difficult to talk to, let alone kiss or hug, your crush.

Having a crush is a natural and healthy part of being human, but it is important to remember that the butterfly feelings are usually short-lived. They can be destructive to primary relationships, and can lead to infidelity (Foster & McNulty, 2014; Miller, 2008). Moreover, it is important to recognize that the feelings of attraction are not necessarily intended to lead to mating. In fact, this type of attraction is more akin to play flighting in juvenile animals than actual romance. Nevertheless, we can learn from the experience of other people who have experienced this phenomenon.