I think getting over a crush can sometimes be harder than getting over a real, bonafide breakup.
There. I said it.
When you think about it, a crush exists largely in your head. They’re a real person, but you’re not really dating, so it’s easy to fantasize about them in your head and idolize who you think they are. An ex is someone whose flaws you’ve seen and physically decided to part ways with. As a result, it can be even more difficult to look out for the signs it's time to give up on your crush, because they might not be as obvious. You might fight with an ex, realize you want different things in life, or something could trigger a realization that you’re not compatible. For the most part, you know when it’s time to move on.
The point at which you’re “supposed” to move on from a crush is discussed way less frequently. That is, until now. I spoke with NYC-based relationship expert Susan Winter about the signs it’s time to give up on your crush, and she majorly delivered with some real AF wisdom.
Read along and take notes.
1. They Barely Acknowledge Your Existence
OK, so you have an undying love for this person and they, well… you’re not even entirely sure if they know your name. No matter how hard you try to get their attention, they just don’t seem to be taking the bait. If they don’t pick up on any of your cues or they seem “oblivious to your presence,” Winter says “this is a clear sign that you're not on their radar. Either they have a partner, or they don't fancy you. Though it's hard to accept, it's best to move on.”
Tough, but fair.
2. All You've Got Going For You Is Flirty Banter
No joke, there was a guy I talked to for years just because we had great flirty banter. And when I say “talked to,” I literally mean talked to. I had the biggest crush in the world on this dude and we never actually did anything. We would just flirt back and forth endlessly via text and maybe at a party every now and then. This is apparently a pretty standard situation. “You both flirt, and flirt, but that's it. All the banter and innuendos go nowhere in the real world,” Winter says of what she calls the flirtation loop. “No matter how clearly you give your crush the green light to proceed, they don't take forward action. Even when you suggest a plan to see each other, they don't respond or reciprocate.”
The flirtation loop is another one of Winter’s most obvious signs it’s time to move on and, particularly with someone who actually knows how lucky they are to hang out with you IRL.
3. They’re Dating Someone Else
Even if this is a total Taylor Swift “You Belong With Me” situation where you know they’re supposed to be with you and not their current partner, Winter suggests sparing yourself the drama and finding someone else to crush on — preferably someone more available.
“This is a clear sign you should move on,” she says. “Whatever the mental allure, pursuing this individual will prove messy for all involved.”
4. They’re Getting In The Way Of Your IRL Dating Life
Anyone who’s had a crush can attest to the fact that, for the most part, your relationship with your crush only exists in your head. And that’s totally cool, until your fantasy about this person starts interfering with your IRL relationships.
“A 'crush' is the lowest rung on the relationship scale. It's more of a mental dalliance than it is anything real,” explains Winter. “Crushes lie in the land of fantasy. We 'imagine' an incredible romance with this person. Yet, we don't know enough about them to know if that's even a reality. Most of the intrigue is in our head. Keeping a firm grip on what's real and what's imagined will assist in determining if the crush is a viable option, or just a delicious daydream.”
If you feel like you’re starting to lose that grip on reality, and your fantasies about your crush are starting to interfere with your real-life relationships, Winter says “it's time to break free.”
5. You’re Becoming Obsessed
I mean, let’s face it: Who hasn’t caught themselves inexplicably losing a few minutes of their day fantasizing about their crush? It’s only natural, but if you feel like your brain is wandering to Crushville, U.S.A, a little more than usual, it’s time to reel it in.
“If you find you're obsessed with your crush, it's time to exit the fantasy,” says Winter. “Are you boring your friends recounting every little thing your crush did or said? Do you continually replay your interactions? Are you already planning your future together? Do your emotions run high and low according to your crush's attention or lack thereof?” If you answered yes to her questions, Winter says “you're obsessed and need move on.”
I know moving on from a crush is often easier said than done, but remember this: You are a total gem, and anyone would be lucky to go out with you. Find someone who is equally as into you as you are into them, because you deserve the love you give.
This post was originally published on Jan. 11, 2017. It was updated on Aug. 23, 2019. Additional reporting by Candice Jalili.