From Merriam Webster:
Crush: n. informal: an intense and usually passing infatuation
also: the object of infatuation
Spotting Crushes in the Wild
Most of the sources online agree on butterflies being the tell-tale symptom of crushing, a result of the adrenaline in your system when you think about your crush.
I would identify how intently you focus on a person as another powerful indicator of a crush. When you’ve got a crush on somebody (or on a place, or an idea), you dedicate substantial attention to that crush, whether or not you consciously choose to. As timescanner says:
“HAVING A CRUSH” is a form of CURIOSITY that is often mistaken for LOVE— T I M E D E S T R O Y E R (@timescanner) February 8, 2021
I think this understanding aligns better with the idea of ‘crushing’ as something that you can do in a romantic context, but that might also apply to people with whom you don’t have romantic/sexual intentions. Which brings us briefly to:
The (Nonexhaustive) Taxonomy of Crushes
- Romantic crush: the most common form of crush, a parasocial relationship to a person you find attractive
- Friend crush: like a crush, but platonic. A strong interest in becoming friends with somebody that you may or may not act on (if you do act, might become a platonic pursuit)
- Art crush: for creatives, having a fascination/infatuation with another creative’s work, wanting to know them or their work better
- Fascinations: Falling down rabbit holes of particular topics, areas, or hobbies. (Perhaps not a crush per se, but certainly a relative of it.)
A broad definition of ‘crush’
The excitement and attention that romantic crushes produce is not unique to romantic attraction, so I propose that we understand ‘crush’ as an umbrella term. Lots of things can be a fun fascination/obsession/infatuation, not just people that we’re hypothetically, romantically interested in.
What’s the function of a crush?
Whether our fascination is with a potential person, a hopeful new friend, or an exciting idea, crushes tend to become a sort of mental screensaver. When you’re not actively thinking about anything else, your attention drifts towards the thing or person you’re crushing on. To borrow an idea from Paul Graham, a crush is almost always the top idea in your mind, which means it’ll drift to you when you’re in the shower or doing your dishes.
A very cute and #relatable article for determining if you have a crush.
Insightful medium article about crushes and their utility for young people.
A quick blog post with some extra neuro info on crushes.
The (somewhat) interesting etymology of the word crush