Having a crush can be both terrible and delightful. Having a crush in the '90s was both those things, and more. It was awkward, weird, and confusing, not in the least because we couldn't just stalk our crushes on the internet. You'll never understand exactly what it was like to like someone when you couldn't look them up online if you never lived through it. Sure, that wasn't specific to the '90s (because it was something you couldn't do since the dawn of time), but the '90s was the last time you couldn't look someone up extensively online. So it's fresh in our memories.
There were different types of crushes in the '90s. The ones you developed on heartthrobs like Leonardo DiCaprio and J.T.T. Or the ones you developed at school on more attainable classroom heartthrobs. There were summer camp crushes and crushes that happened simply because someone's Dr. Martens were cool. It doesn't matter what kind of crush you had, the emotional stages of having a crush in the '90s were many and varied. One minute you could be floating on air, talking to your Tamagotchi about how in love you were, and the next you could be angrily deleting your dedicated Geocities site. Here are some of the emotional states of having a crush in the '90s.
All '90s crushes began with butterflies. Very, very serious butterflies in the tummy. Because of course, aside from your celebrity crushes, your real life crushes happened exactly like that: in real life.
2. The Desire To Collude
Once your crush has been established, the first thing you did in the '90s was rally your troops. Your friends would come together to giggle over your crush, do love math, and consult both the Ouija board and cootie catcher to try and figure out how to proceed.
3. The Organizational Stage
Is "intense organization" an emotion? Maybe not, but this is what happens to you when you're crushing and it's the '90s — you start organizing. Every move is planned out perfectly and strategically, and this phase requires a lot of busy work between you and your friends.
4. The Gut Wrenching Feeling As You Begin Implementation Of Your Devious Crush Plan
When it's time to finally start pursuing your crush, your butterflies turned into a gut wrenching feeling of dread as you began implementing the plans you'd been painstakingly putting together with your pals.
Dread always gave way to excitement. After you'd drop a note in their locker, or casually walk past them with a cool slap band to get their attention, you'd start feeling very excited about their reciprocity.
Sometimes you would get what you wanted (skip to 12), but sometimes you wouldn't. Sometimes your glitter encrusted note would not be answered, and you'd stare longingly at your Leonardo DiCaprio posters wishing all crushes could be as kind and lovely as you imagined Leo was.
7. Reinvigorated Hope
Staring at Leo's big blue eyes and thinking about Romeo + Juliet, you'd convince yourself that great love was sometimes hard. You'd go back to the cootie catcher and ask and re-ask questions until you got the answer you were looking for. And just like that, your crush hopes would be reinvigorated.
However, when your hope didn't yield results, you'd be stuck with acute embarrassment. Maybe you reached out on IM and never got a response, and then you were left cringing the next day at school. Eventually, all '90s crushes became awfully embarrassing.
So you'd retreat, and longingly wish for your crush to have worked out differently. Maybe while listening to Alanis Morissette or Backstreet Boys, or whatever it was you listened to before you listened to Taylor Swift when you had an unrequited crush.
You'd always wind up comparing yourself to perfect '90s couples, and wondering why your crush couldn't be the same. Pacy and Joey. Zack and Kelly. Ross and Rachel. All those lovely perfect romances (well, that were perfect for a snapshot of time that was long enough for you to be able to compare your crush to them), were your yardstick for your own forlornness.
Realizing that your crush was never going to happen was a huge moment, and a liberating one. It gave you the wherewithal to move forward and...
... Start from the start! If your crush didn't work out, you'd probably find another one pretty quickly. And if it did work out, you'd go back to butterflies anyway, because your crush crushing you was totally glorious.