What is a Crush?

A crush is an infatuation that elicits a mix of exhilaration and anxiety, boldness and insecurity, hope and fear. Sometimes, these feelings blossom into something meaningful, and other times they go unrequited, leaving us feeling crushed — both literally and emotionally. No matter how it plays out, a crush can teach us some important lessons about ourselves and the people we love.

Crush is also a wine term, specifically referring to one of the main steps in the process of turning grapes into vino: crushing. The crush is a critical step in the whole winemaking process, which also includes fermentation, fining/clarification and aging/bottling.

The word “crush” has several meanings, though most often it is used to describe a romantic interest. It can also refer to someone who is admired or envied, and even to a food or beverage.

A person who has a crush on someone will often be smitten by them and may feel a strong desire to be near them. They’ll likely talk about them a lot with friends and others, perhaps even calling them by name. They’ll want to see them every time they can, and may be willing to sacrifice sleep or other commitments in order to do so. They’ll probably check out their social media, stalking their photos and updates to learn more about them.

It’s not uncommon for kids to have crushes, especially in middle and high school. It can be confusing for them to figure out what they’re feeling and how to act on it, but parents can help provide some context and guidance to kids when they’re trying to work through their feelings.

If you suspect that you might have a crush on someone, take it slow and be thoughtful about how you approach them. If you know them well, try flirting with them if that feels comfortable, or ask to get together outside of your usual shared settings. Keep in mind that your crush may be in a relationship, so be careful not to disrupt their lives.

Another way to determine whether you have a crush is by paying attention to their body language. If they lean toward you or touch your hand when talking to you, that’s a good sign. They’ll also be more animated and engaging when you’re around them, and may mirror some of your behaviors and mannerisms.

If you have a crush, you’ll probably experience the same mood-boosting hormones that come with feelings of love and sexual attraction, expert Stephanie Cacioppo tells INSIDER. These include dopamine and oxytocin, which make you feel excited and happy. They can also increase your heart rate, give you that butterflies-in-your-stomach feeling, and cause obsessive thoughts.