The Crush: A Temporary State of Affairs…

We have just passed the tenth International Tell Your Crush Day. Hmmm: Don’t remember eating that! To be less scatological, missed that one totally: Bummer! Mind you, I don’t have a current crush to confess all to – and am torn between sadness and relief at that loss from my life.

Crushes are vital, in my opinion. They are little hot bubbles of proto-love and proto-sex, a safe exploration of both when we are not capable, in the maturational sense, of fully exploring either. They ape many of the physical signs of arousal, mind you: The blushing, the tingling, the panting, the anxiety – and the obsessive need to see the adored object is, indeed, a forerunner of the Real Thing!

I must have had hundreds of crushes in my life so far – and they are as delicious as they are, at times, disastrous. We rarely show ourselves at our most soignee and dignified when in the full throes of a crush – or pash, as it is also called (specially in girls’ boarding schools). We sigh and swoon and weep and wail, and compose flowery poetry and imagine ourselves being saved by the beloved one; we doodle his or her name on endless scraps of paper; we interpret the slightest glance as clear evidence of reciprocal interest and the merest frown as heart-stoppingly awful rejection.

Often, we become so addicted – to the person; to being infatuated in this way – that we feel only half alive when no one crush-worthy swims into our ken! We lower our inner standards until almost anyone even remotely worthy of our admiration is grabbed in the desperate net of the Crush Junky’s regard. We spend much of our lives obsessing over Person A or weeping bitterly over the insensitivity of Person B (who, in all probability, has no idea that we even exist!). We huff. We moan. We go off our food. We are like cats on hot bricks around the mobile phone. We snap at our nearest and dearest. Everything, but everything, reminds us of the wonder, the glory, of our crush.

We bore all the rest of our friends talking incessantly about this person – and, if, like me, we write journals, we maunder on for page after tedious page, volume after pointless volume, extolling virtues which probably don’t exist in real life and excusing vices which almost certainly do!

We lose our appetites, our deities and, in some cases, our best friends!

It is a wonderful feeling, having a crush, but it also makes us extremely vulnerable as do all ‘relationships’ of a one-sided and non-reciprocal nature. We risk much: Being told that the other does not feel the same way (devastating, no matter how old we are); seeing the adored object going off with his or her preferred friends (ghastly); being teased and humiliated by those who notice the crush and think it hilarious/pathetic (appalling); being taken advantage of by those who simply want to get their leg over (or under, as the case, and gender, may be)…unspeakable!

Crushes usually fade – like acne – by themselves. Disillusionment sets in, or real love hoves into view; we grow up or get a horse or leave the area – or, if we are of an addictive bent, go straight onto a new crush!

We kid ourselves that we are the epitome of subtlety when in the throes of Crush – but, actually, the state is generally plain for most others in the vicinity to see. The onlooker’s reaction has much to do with their own level of maturity, empathy and compassion. Because I have had crushes on so many people, I have great fellow feeling for others who experience this, even if they are making complete tits of themselves.

Having crushes is part of the whole love spectrum. It is a generally safe way of learning about those intense and absorbing feelings. It is a sign (though we don’t always realise it at the time) that our capacity for sexual arousal is well on its way to maturity and, for all that we often bow down before hollow icons, that we are beginning to refine our ideas as to what could, potentially, make a good partner later on.

But, above us, it teaches us that we have a working heart, in the emotional sense – that, despite the element of hero-worship and sheer unreality, we have the ability to look outside ourselves and focus, albeit a tad obsessively, upon someone else; that love is flexing childish muscles and yearning to grow into adulthood.

I think crushes are an essential part of the teenage – and older – experience. They are horror and delight, ecstasy and humiliation, dream and nightmare. We get kicked, metaphorically, and knocked down time after time; we fix on absolute Narcissistic frights and self-centred beauties time and again; we choose wrong’uns with a regularity which almost amounts to genius; we spend half our lives with our heads in the clouds and the other half weeping disconsolately into a pillow/the dog; we don’t know whether we are coming or going!

But, Oh my God, the adrenaline! The excitement! The flood of hormones! the anticipation! The…

…I am sure you get the point!

At present, I am calm (in so far as I ever am) and crush-free. It simplifies things, without a doubt, and yet – and yet, that adolescent part of me kind of misses the zing and the fear, the stealth, the ‘accidental’ bumping-into, the whole wonder and risk and aliveness of having a teenage crush!

Temporary each one may be – but, by Goddess, they pack a mighty punch whilst in operation!

Let’s hear it for the humble crush!


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