What Happens When We Crush Too Much

Now is that weird mid-July period where you realize that summer romance you were supposed to have probably isn’t happening. All your friends are on vacation while you’re stuck in the office or at home enviously clicking through their trip pics on Facebook. This summer in particular, across the nation, the events unfolding in the news have left us vehemently defending our views at BBQs or Beergartens, emotional, drained, and wondering why we have to share the planet with idiots. And of course, it’s ungodly hot, which makes it all worse. Yup, this is one of those times when it would be really great to have a little crush provide some much-needed distraction and a break from the monotony.

Crushes are the best. They give you a reason to shave your legs, paint your toenails, and generally leave the house looking like a person who has her act together. When you read Cosmo (ironically, of course — it’s your friend’s subscription) you can think to yourself “Hmm, maybe this bobby pins-as-nipple clamps thing will come in handy soon” as opposed to “Why am I even reading this when it’s 80 percent about sex I am nowhere near having?” If your friend asks you about your love life you can say, “Well, actually…”

Yet crushes can spoil if sustained past their expiration date. In other words, if they’re too prolonged, you enter the stage where crushing on someone goes from fun to inconvenient to so frustrating you wish you had never laid eyes on him (because you want to lay more than your eyes on him, and you can’t, sigh). Depending on the strength of your mental fortress, I’d say things typically go to the dark side in two to three months.

Two to three months? “Girl, just get those digits already!” you say. But see, a common characteristic of the extended crush is there’s some kind of (real or perceived?) social barrier to initiating your seduction in full force. Maybe you work together. Maybe you share the same friend group that one of you would have to surrender in the event of a divorce. Maybe you never see him alone. Maybe your family is feuding, Hatfield and McCoy-style, over an Appalachian homestead. Whatever the case, the barrier gives vitality to the crush because you can rationalize your desired’s inattention based on circumstance. (Did he just say “Meh” to me? How well he hides his love!).

The problem with your brain on crush drugs for a long period of time is you start to see an idealized version of your crush rather than an actual human being. If you actually, finally, manage to get things going, you can be disappointed when there’s no real compatibility, or worse, blindsided when he turns out to be a terrible person. In these instances, it’s embarrassingly and disproportionately difficult to let it go, because after all, it’s the death of a dream. On the other hand, if you never manage to make anything happen with a crush, you feel rejected by an ideal, which is as painful as it is nonsensical.

Like anything you indulge at length, having a crush can be a habit that’s hard to break. But if it’s been months with no resolution, it seems wise to break it, because while you are “building a mystery” around someone, you may be missing out on the chance to be their friend, or overlooking the person in the corner, secretly crushing on you. The million dollar question is how to make the madness stop. End your old crush with a new one? Sounds like fun…