A crush is an infatuation with someone you like or want to get to know. These feelings are normal and you’re not weird for having them. You can have a crush on a friend, a coworker, a classmate or anyone else you’re interested in. Your heart might race or you may feel tongue-tied when they’re around. You might even become more talkative around them.
When a crush happens, your brain releases feel-good hormones that increase self-esteem and boost your mood, Stephanie Cacioppo, an assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral neuroscience at the University of Chicago, told INSIDER. The emotions can be a little similar to love, which also releases those same hormones. However, there’s usually a difference between a crush and love: “A crush is usually more focused on someone in terms of romantic feelings, where as love is more about a relationship,” Cacioppo said.
Kids and teens aren’t always sure how to handle their crushes, especially when the feelings seem too strong or they don’t know how to express them. It’s important to have an honest discussion with kids about their feelings and help them find the right balance, whether that’s by telling them it’s normal to have a crush or guiding them through how to make a friendship work with their crush.
For parents, this can be a tricky conversation because kids aren’t always able to articulate how they’re feeling and might not even understand why they have a crush. But the more parents can talk with their kids about the feelings, the better a kid will be able to manage them and make good decisions.
What to do if you have a crush
If you have a crush on someone, take some time to really get to know them. Flirt with them, invite them out for a drink or ask them to hang out outside of school. If you can, try to keep these interactions discreet and private. If you’re unsure how to go about it, try talking with trusted friends first. Don’t tell too many people about your feelings—it can creep your crush out!
The new teen rom-com Crush stars Rowan Blanchard as Paige, an aspiring artist who is forced to join her school’s track team to pursue her crush Gabby (Isabella Ferreira). Though it has some of the hallmarks of a high-school rom-com (including a cynical coach played by Aasif Mandvi and a mom portrayed by Megan Mullally) it deserves some attention for its queer representation and sex-positive message. Families can discuss how the film portrays teen romance and how it compares to other films and TV shows that address same-sex relationships.