Crushes and What Not.. By Serenity Hoyland*

Why is it that relationship advice comes so easily when offering it to someone else? But when it comes to your own love life you can’t solve a thing. When your friend is madly in love with the cute girl who’s giving her the eye and has bought her 5 drinks in the space of an hour, it would be very obvious to you that said friend needs to get her behind in gear and set up a date. If it’s you though you can come up with at least 3 reasons for cute girl’s behaviour, none of which are that she likes you. The internet is awash with ‘how to tell if she likes you’ websites/forums/YouTube videos etc so it seems to be an issue not only confined to my overly analytical brain.

The simplest way to get an answer really is to just tell her that you like her. But that is something I’m sure many of us would be loath to do unless copious amounts of alcohol had been taken or you had a 100% cast iron guarantee that you would not be rejected.  And therein lays the problem I think. Rejection. Even the word is horrible. When your friends (and you yourself) are giving out advice, ‘what’s the worst that can happen?’ is always the top question. And the answer is ‘she might say no’. And rationally thinking that isn’t all that bad. She says no, you say fair enough and (depending on how much you like her) a tub of Ben & Jerry’s later you feel fine and move on with your life. But your imagination is anything but rational; it’s already picked out your wedding colours! So in your head the worst that can happen is that she’ll laugh hysterically in your face, point you out to all her friends who will also laugh in your face, before she tells you that even if all the women in the world went to live on Venus, and you were the only one left, she’d become a nun before she dated you. And then she’d laugh some more.

This fear of rejection, not just by a crush but by people in general, can alter our personality. It’s a rare thing, I think, to be completely yourself with people you’ve just met or people you don’t see very often. Many of us have different personas which are variations of our true selves that come out with different people. How you are when you are with your parents is not the same as how you would be with your best friend. How you are with your best friend is not how you are with your crush (at first anyway). Some even have variations depending on which friends they are with.

For me the change is around anyone I remotely have the feels for. I find it difficult to make conversation with them or even look at them for any length of time. With anyone else though once I’ve met them a few times (or even the first time depending on how social I’m feeling) I will talk to them about anything and everything, hug them, dance with them, message them stupid things, basically be as comfortable as can be. I don’t think this affliction is unique to me. It leaves me wondering how we must look to our crush when we scoop everyone else up into a tight bear hug but all they get is a brief embrace and a mumbled hello. Does it seem like we hate them? Do we come off as rude? Or, as a friend of mine pointed out recently, do we come across too cool and therefore give our feelings away? I think it may be the last one. I also wonder that maybe somewhere in our subconscious we purposefully treat them differently because we want them to find out. Thus all the hard work is done and there is no need for a potentially embarrassing ‘reveal’.

There are a few stages to a crush I have observed; the first being of course realisation. The first time you meet them or just see them and you think ‘Wow’. The first stage is usually physical, after all you know nothing about them apart from how they look, sound, smell (whatever floats your boat); unless you suddenly realise that you have in fact fallen for someone you have known for ages, in which case you graduate right to stage 3, but first the second stage. You’ve met her, you think she’s gorgeous so gradually you start learning more about her. If it turns out that she’s more than just a pretty face then stage 3 is nigh. By this point you know a fair bit about her, you’re friends on Facebook, you’ve exchanged numbers, perhaps the odd message here or there, so now you start day-dreaming a little bit. You might be on the bus and suddenly you realise you’ve spent your entire journey thinking about how your first date with her will go. This stage is progressive. You can go from short fantasies about where you might eat on your date to imagining what colour you’ll paint the bedroom in your first flat and anywhere in between.

At some point you’ll move to stage 4.  You spend a lot of your time unintentionally thinking about her, so now it’s time to do something about it. By now you are either both flirting up a storm in which case one of you finally takes the plunge and suggests a drink together or you’re unsure as to how she feels about you so you have to decide to either risk it or spend forever asking ‘does she or doesn’t she’. And here you can lose a lot of time over analysing everything she says or does.

Of course everyone is different and you could probably write a book on crushes and all that they entail (there may already be one in existence). But I guess what’s important to remember is that we’ve all been there. If you’re contemplating telling your crush that you have the feels for her then it may make it easier if you think that she’s probably been in the same situation herself once or twice (or maybe more times); so unless she’s a particularly nasty person (and if she is then waste no time on her!) she won’t laugh in your face. So buy yourself that tub of ice cream just in case and take the plunge. You never know it may end up being a tub for two!