crush disclosure

Reader K. Z. asks:

You’ve mentioned the harmlessness of “crushes” if someone has a crush on someone else. Should they make that crush public knowledge and tell them?

Dear K.Z.:

I’ve already written about unrequited love, so if you’ve had this crush for a long period of time, I highly recommend heading over to that post and seeing what I had to say about it.

But in terms of “going public” with a crush…

My high school drama teacher once told me that the best way to get over a crush is just to tell everyone you know about it. I, however, have always been afraid of rejection and tend to keep my crushes well hidden, even to this day. I am mortified at the prospect of any crush finding out I like them.

Of course, that high school drama teacher was probably right.

The thing about crushes is that they are an obsession. Ya’ can’t stop thinking about the object of your crush, and you find yourself stalking him/her in little ways — Facebook, for instance, or Google, or any number of harmless-seeming places where the person will never know that you’ve looked them up and gone through all their pictures and fallen in love with all their favorite quotations.


Sure, make it public; just be careful. Image: Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I, for one, do not find this kind of “Facebook stalking” to be creepy on its own, when done in private. It gets creepy if you start contacting the person and making sure they know they’re being stalked. There is, in my opinion, a line between harmless crush and true stalking. While the virtual world makes this line ever thinner, the line still exists. When I was in middle school, my girlfriends once cut a boy’s picture out of the yearbook and hung it on their wall, or looked up his phone number and dreamed about calling him. This is harmless crushing in my mind, and is similar to Facebook crushing. If they had hunted him down and started taking new pictures or called his house relentlessly, that would be crossing the line. If you start messaging the object of your affections on Facebook or send them an email without encouragement and keep pestering them or start going by their house, then you are insane and you need to stop immediately.

Anyway, my point is that going through a crush tends to be a very solitary passtime. Your roiling lust for this person keeps your brain completely engaged at all times and keeps you from doing anything but trying to find out more about him/her. Thus you fall further and further into obsession, with no outlet but your own emotions. Eventually the crush can get bigger than it should have been and you are left an empty shell of your former self. Or something.

“Making it public”, as you’ve put it, is the way to go. However, as I think you’ve suggested in the way you worded your question, there are different levels of making it public, and which one you choose depends entirely on your circumstances:

You have a crush, but nothing can be done about it (you’re in a relationship; he/she is in a relationship; there’s no way he/she returns the crush)

In this instance, I think you should keep it between you and your nearest and dearest. Tell your mom, tell your close friends, and just talk about it until you don’t feel obsessed anymore. Write about it in your diary. Set up a private blog where you can get your obsession out. Just blab about it until it is as ridiculous to you subjectively as it is objectively to everyone else. No one is going to like your crush as much as you do. They’ll be willing to point out his/her shortcomings, I’m sure, and that should help you get out of it.

In the case wherein you’ve already got a significant other and you find yourself in a crush, I recommend treading very, very carefully. While nobody likes to hear that their S.O. has a crush on someone else, it may be harder for yours to simply sit and listen to you talk endlessly about this person without admitting it’s a crush. I say make the ordeal as small as possible. If you can’t rein in your crush, talk about it with your S.O. Just get it out in the open and make it as small as you possibly can. That is, of course, unless you’re ready to break up with your S.O. But that is another advice column altogether.

It’s possible the crush could return your feelings and/or something good could come from their knowing about your crush.

Telling a person you have a crush on them is generally a great ego boost for them, whether they return the feeling or not. This is definitely the number one way to get over a crush, too, so if you just can’t take it anymore and talking to your friends isn’t helping, I say tell the object of your affection how you feel. One of my new favorite, unobtrusive ways to do this is via the Bureau of Communication, where you can fill out the Declaration of Romantic Intent Form (like a Mad Lib for your crush) and send it to them. They can laugh and be charmed and then tell you how they feel one way or another, and you don’t have to suffer the embarrassment of having cornered them in real life somewhere in public.

Whether or not you use the Bureau of Communication, I think email is definitely the best-suited form for this, unless you’re up for writing a middle school-style note. (Real paper gets huge bonus points in my book, honestly.) (And courage, dammit! Whatever happened to courage?? Remind me to tell you about that time the guy from the Naval Academy sent me roses with his phone number on the card.) Again, public embarrassment for both of you is almost assured if you decide to tell your crush in person how you feel. Keep the email/note short and simple. Do not expound on your feelings unendingly. Make it three lines or less. Otherwise you are really going to feel stupid. Trust me.

Don’t make it THAT kind of public.

Do not, for any reason, post stuff about your crush on a social networking site where he/she could find it, or where anyone’s significant other could get wind of it. You wouldn’t put up flyers on light posts around town advertising your feelings, would you? … WOULD YOU?! Really, keep it between you and your friends and you and your crush. Especially if you’re not sure how the crush feels about it in the first place.

If you feel you must advertise that you have a crush, at least be discreet. Don’t use names. Don’t use specifics. Just say you have a crush. Most likely, people will be able to figure out who it’s on anyway. But blabbing about it on Facebook or your public blog can get people in a lot of trouble. Make a point to leave a small footprint with this crush business. You’ll feel better when it’s over, one way or the other.


2 Responses to “crush disclosure”

  1. 1 Zkeller
    September 27, 2010 at 12:24 pm

    So, I think that I should have been slightly more specific in my question, and my response may generate a second part to your blog. I personally feel that there are different levels of crush, and that each level must have some sort of specific guidelines as to how to approach making the crush known.

    For instance.

    Level 1: The Celebrity Crush: Example Being if I were to have a crush on Natalie Portman? What should I do?

    Level 2: The B level celebrity- the semi-famous individual that you don’t have a personal relationship with, but may actually come in contact with at some point in your life… example being: My known crush of Tracy Clark-Flory.

    Level 3: The known and distant crush- a person that you have some sort of relationship and contact with, be it friends or pen-pals, yet the crush is not an everyday individual in your life. What would be the plan?

    And finally Level 4: The girl next door- Someone that has an everyday presence in your life and contact is often and available? What would be the plan of action?

    Leaving having a S.O. out of the equation, since acting accordingly and with discretion in all instances of these types of crushes should be similar. Like you said- mentioning kept to a minimum and the minimality grows exponentially with proximity.

    I just don’t think handling all of these types of crushes should follow the same plan of action. So my follow up question would be using military terminology, what would be the SOP or Standard Operating Procedure for each specific type of crush?

    Me. 🙂

    • 2 Richard
      September 27, 2010 at 3:11 pm

      “How to approach making the crush known” eh?

      The only time for making a crush known is after the crush has either abated or morphed into a positive and close relationship. Otherwise you’ll be rightly spurned or ridiculed.

      Regarding those levels …

      Level 1) A listers in general. Put ’em in the spank bank. If the crush is interfering with your life and you’ve reached your third decade, then suicide. Suicide before you go all John Hinckley Jr on the rest of us. An obituary is a good way to make this crush known.

      1a) Natalie Portman. Your demise should involve hot grits.

      Level 2) Spank bank and await disappointment should the chance meeting occur. No one is as good as their fantasy selves. Also, these are people you can actually arrange to meet and perhaps even shift into a level 3 crush. You may have to up your game and notoriety to pull it off though. Practice on lesser subjects, then strike.

      2a) TCF, really?

      Level 3) If your subject is unavailable, stay in light contact until the situation changes. Greater contact risks landing in the friend zone. Be attractive, get schooled in it if you don’t know how. That person might become available some year and wouldn’t it be nice if you had your shit so together that you become the object of desire?

      If your crush is available then why is this a level 3? You already know this person, move in. Don’t be a passive little turd laying on the ground awaiting notice.

      Level 4) Go for it soon and cluefully. You know your subject well. Be smart about it.

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