7 Embarrassing Things We All Did For Love As Teenagers

Is there anything more cringe-worthy than thinking about the dumb stuff you did when you had a crush as a teenager? Sure, there are the diary entries, which are rough enough (“I don’t know what to do about my feelings for John. I like him so so so so so so so so so so so much! But I don’t think he’ll EVER like me back!”) but at least those were private. It’s the public stuff I did that makes me want to crawl under my bed and never come out again, a full decade out of my teen years.

Like, for example, the very clear memory I have of the one week super intense crush on this guy Jake* during freshman year of high school. We had the same biology class, I had newly gigantic boobs, and for some reason I thought that the best way to be “sexy” was to basically lie on the table in front of him, squishing my boobs together in my low cut top. That’s sexy, right? That’s what sexy looks like? Lying on a biology table and pushing your boobs into the face of a 14-year-old boy who definitely has no idea what’s happening? That’s how you get a boyfriend, right? (I’m literally typing this with my eyes closed because that’s how embarrassing I still find that to be.)

And, of course, disclaimer: This is mostly for my peer group, who came of age in the early years of online communication and pre-smartphone. I know teenagers today have totally different game that I’m oblivious to — like I can’t even imagine navigating high school with Snapchat. (#TeamOlderMillennial) But I did come up with a few things that I think are probably pretty universal, no matter your age, and a couple that are definitely generation-specific, about things you did as teenager for love:

1. Riding Your Bike Past Their House Repeatedly


Or walking your dog past their house. Or walking by their after school job. Or waiting in the hallway because you know they’re going to pass by between classes. Basically low-key stalking your crush so that you can “bump into” them as often as possible. (This is totally how I got my high school boyfriend/first love to notice me.)

2. Posting Ambiguous Song Lyrics


Whether you were scribbling song lyrics on the backs of your notebooks, posting them on your AIM profile, on Facebook (if you’re young enough), or shooting them off into the Twittersphere, what teenager can resist the significance of deep song lyrics. Obviously all of our crushes saw those deep, meaningful pop songs and knew we were thinking about them, right? Right?

3. Vague “Inside Jokes” That No One Gets


Vague inside jokes are similar to ambiguous song lyrics — we just knew that our crushes would get it because we were totally connected. I don’t know where teenagers are sharing their inside jokes today but we were definitely all about it on AIM.

4. Going Online/Offline On Chat


This is totally a generational one and it’s super specific to a time when we were all online, but had crappy Internet access. Remember how when you used to come on and offline in a chat app like AIM, a little sound would play or a notification would pop up? My friend Sian told me that she used to go on and offline, mimicking a poor connection, so that her crushes would get that little notification over and over and over again until they finally said hi.

Sian also said, “My entire teenage years were just doing dumb sh*t to impress teenage boys,” which is a sentiment I think many of us can relate to.

5. “Do You Like Me? Check Yes, No, Or Maybe.”


OK, so this one might fall more under “adorable” than “hella embarrassing.” But who didn’t pass one of these back in the day? We think it’s super cute now but back then it was definitely very serious business. D’awww!

6. Making Your Friends Talk To Them So You Don’t Have To


I’ll be real: I’ve probably been guilty of this as an adult too. Actually, one of my friends is currently planning her wedding to a man that her friend approached in a bar for her because she was too shy. So maybe this is one we should keep in the “things we do for people we like” toolbox.

7. Sitting Through Shows Of Bands You Don’t Like


Or ball games you don’t care about. Or movies you hate. My high school boyfriend was in a punk band and while I’m pretty sure I convinced myself that I liked punk music, the reality is that I just liked him. I have nothing against doing an activity now and then that your SO likes more than you do — I go to the cinema with bae all the time and I never did that before we got together — but it’s the pretending to love something in order to impress a crush that makes me cringe now.

*Name changed.

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