8 Types of Crushes You Had As a Kid — and How They Still Impact Your Adult Dating Life
Much like a Lisa Frank t-shirt you've outgrown or a dried-out container of Gak, it's tempting to consign your old childhood crushes to the junk pile of your youth. After all, you're a grown woman now — you've eaten, you've prayed, you've loved, and you've had sex in a bar bathroom. What could you possibly learn about yourself from remembering that one summer when you were 11 and hopelessly devoted to that camp counselor with the sexy orange windbreaker?
And yet, childhood crushes stay with us. That's why we all still Google crushes that we haven't spoken to since we stopped shopping at GapKids, right? They're our first lessons about what we like in a romantic partner, how love works, how much we're willing to suffer to get it, and how we view ourselves as potential romantic partners. We can learn more about what we really want from our romantic tastes by looking at what we felt when we were first developing them. And honestly, though we're probably loathe to admit it, your tastes in "types" of romantic partners often solidifies somewhere around sixth grade. I mean, do Shawn Hunter lovers ever change into Corey Matthews lovers? I wouldn't bet my autographed Matthew Lawrence photo on it.
So let's all settle in with some GoGurt and a scrunchie and revisit the all of our childhood crushes, and the ways that they still stick with us today. Also, shout-out to my childhood crush Jonathan B., for being so easily Google-able. Should we go get lunch? Kidding! (Sort of.)
The Unattainable Older Hottie
Maybe it was your camp counselor. Or the high schooler your parents hired to mow the lawn. Or the college kid who taught you piano lessons. Or even (gulp) your one really young teacher who knew all about cool music. The way they came into your life doesn't matter— what's important was that this crush was way older, and viewed you as something of a "kid sister" (or as something of an "annoying little girl who won't stop bugging me while I'm trying to teach this lanyard-making workshop").
How Does This Factor Into Your Dating Life Today?: This crush got you nice and used to being totally ignored by the object of your affection, a skill that can serve you well in office crushes, crushes on authority figures, and other "hobby crushes" that are more about killing time at work than looking for a soulmate. The greatest mistake that someone carrying out a hobby crush can make is assuming that it'll lead to something real —and you know better than to commit such a newbie faux pas.
The Golden Child
Student council president, Lions Club Volunteer of the Year, and the most highly decorated 4-H Club member at your elementary school? How could you not want to make this kid a construction paper Valentine? And who cared if there was a long, long line of others at your school with the same idea? You were gonna share that snack-time Capri Sun with the Golden Child, or die trying.
How Does This Factor Into Your Dating Life Today?: Any relationship with a Golden Child always ended right after that snack-time Capri Sun, because their mom told them that dating would just distract them from studying and soccer practice. This experience can prime you to not take it personally in adult life when a perfectly fine relationship has to end because of school or other commitments ... but it can also drive you into the arms of suitors who have zero commitments, and thus all the time in the world to find out if you prefer Tropical Punch or Pacific Cooler.
You met the Intellectual at the academic decathalon, or an Odyssey of the Mind meet-up, or in your accelerated math class. Even though they had yet to hit puberty, they were already totally over both the kid and teenage thing, and couldn't wait to grow up and become a research scientist, or an academic, or an academic research scientist. The Intellectual was into your study dates at the school library, but couldn't believe it when you tried to kiss them at the end of one — don't you take preparing for this spelling test seriously? The rest of our lives could be hanging in the balance here! Stop playing with fire, you maniac!
How Does This Factor Into Your Dating Life Today?: You've learned to read the signals, and can tell a "fake study date that's just an excuse to go on a date" from a "real study date that will end in humiliation when you try to make a move" like a pro.
The Sensitive Artist
When all the other kids were spending recess playing dodgeball and doing that thing where you hold your fingers together so that they look like a vagina, this kid was reading, or drawing their own comic books, or otherwise being artsy/hiding from your classmates who always wanted to kick their ass.
Of all the childhood crush types, the Sensitive Artist was the one most likely to like you back, and spend a few recesses making you crowns out of dandelions and sharing Dunkaroos with you. You know, until they got mad that you weren't taking things seriously enough and threw all the Dunkaroos into the storm drain.
How Does This Factor Into Your Dating Life Today?: After you develop it, the taste for elementary school/high school/workplace James Francos never quite leaves you (like I said — Shawn Hunter lovers stay Shawn Hunter lovers 'til the end). But given your years of experience on this front, you now know how to make your desires and expectations about a relationship with a Sensitive Artist clear. You also know that, despite their sensitivity, Sensitive Artists are still sometimes just assholes, too (I mean, that Dunkaroos thing was a total overreaction).
How can a 10-year-old already be this into girls? How can a 10-year-old be this confident around girls? How can a 10-year-old have such amazing hair? The Dreamboat is an object of much preteen female affection, and they know it; but they're not arrogant. They just enjoy the variety and spice of life that kissing a different girl behind the monkey bars each week brings them.
How Does This Factor Into Your Dating Life Today?: Dreamboats/players don't really vary their tactics that much from elementary school days; they're going to spend the rest of their lives kissing different girls behind the monkey bars. Due to your early experience with this type, you don't delude yourself when you chase down a Dreamboat — you know that this relationship is going to last about as long as an episode of Even Stevens.
The Girl-Crazy One
The Girl-Crazy One has been waiting for a girl to ask if they want to come over and watch The Lion King pretty much since they were born. And if you set your sights on a Girl-Crazy One, you were almost guaranteed your first date — because the Girl-Crazy One just wants to be loved.
How Does This Factor Into Your Dating Life Today?: Having had a taste of uncomplicated romantic adoration at such a young age, frankly, you have a hard time putting up with the bullshit that adult dating seems to entail. Your early dream romance with the kid whose mom bought them a special blazer to wear as they accompanied you to the school Christmas concert either makes you put off dating completely (who wants to date a grown-up who can't treat me as well as a nine-year-old?), or just introduces a very unique thread of ennui into your single life (God, can you believe I had better relationships than this in the fourth grade?).
The Bully threw dirt clods at you — and yet somehow, they felt more tender than the dirt clods that they threw at everyone else. The schoolyard bully is sometimes a bit of a rebel and a class clown, as well, making them the perfect crush objects for girls who were already exploring an interest in "saving" people with the power of their love/ freaking out their parents with their love life.
How Does This Factor Into Your Dating Life Today?: A crush on the "misunderstood" school bully is the #1 indicator of future interest in changing a love interest who would be "just perfect" if they stopped smoking, and ate more vegetables, and dressed differently, and had a different job, and also were completely different.
Sorry! I don't make the facts, I just report 'em.
The Unrequited Crush
The Unrequited Crush could be a Golden Child, a Sensitive Artist, an Intellectual, or a Golden Sensitive Intellectual— what actually matters is your own level of personal dedication to spending every free moment obsessing over them, a dedication only matched by your dedication to making sure that they never, ever, EVER have any idea that you have an obsessive crush on them.
How Does This Factor Into Your Dating Life Today?: Even today, you might still be kinda shy and hesitant to make the first move. But you also know that you shouldn't get into relationships just to feel cooler, or more popular, or because you're lonely — you respect relationships for the exciting, hard work that they are, and when you do actually get up the nerve to make a move, it's usually for the right reasons.