Friday, July 25, 2008

I've Got A Crush On You

My first crush happened when I was ten, on a boy named Jon. He was wiry and dark-haired, and had braces; he liked to tell jokes, and I can't remember much else about him except that I liked to write his initials on fogged-up windows. I also found it hard to speak when I was around him, an unusual condition for me.

I have since had many crushes. Most of them developed while hewing to my "Who Not To Sleep With" rules, precisely because they were inadvisable under the circumstances.

But my symptoms were the same as when I was ten:
  • Feeling light-headed while in the presence of the crush-ee.
  • Experiencing the need to impress my crush by saying something clever or by positioning myself in a particularly flattering way.
  • Finding myself unable to think about much else.
I've found that it's actually been worse when the object of a crush has returned the interest. Knowing that it's impossible charges the air between you so much that every word and gesture seems freighted.

Then again, as the endlessly quotable George Bernard Shaw once said: "Love is a gross exaggeration of the difference between one person and everybody else."

I'm indebted to commenter Elle for recommending this talk by anthropologist and love expert Helen Fisher at the 2006 TED conference, in which Fisher also quotes Shaw to good effect, and provides more perspective on what happens to us when we are attracted to another person.

However, I don't mean to suggest for a moment that I think crushes are love. Insane, debilitating attractions, yes. But untrammeled, would they have blossomed?

My crushes have only been trammeled, alas. I did once have a devastating attraction to someone when I was distinctly unavailable. My interest seemed to be returned. But when, in time, my availability status changed, nothing wound up happening.

Ultimately, that was probably better. I wound up with a whole new lexicon of desire to savor - it's amazing how appealing the shape of the muscles in someone's shirt-clad back, seen mid-turn during a meeting, can be when you know you're unlikely ever to see them in any other setting.


  1. Anonymous7:52 PM

    It’s funny you should be the one to mention trammeled crushes. I kinda have a big one of those.

    Slave to Glamour

  2. I advise bed rest and cold compresses.