5 Signs You Have A Crush, Because Let's Face It, The Butterflies Feel Real
First off, if there's someone specific you thought of when you clicked on this article, then I'm going to say that maybe you already know you have a crush on someone. Still, being unsure as to whether you've got a crush or really want to be someone's friend is perfectly normal. Sometimes, the signs you have a crush on someone won't be super distinct. You might brush off butterflies in favor of saying (to your suspicious friends or even yourself), "Oh, no. They're simply a friend and I just enjoy their company." Yes, you may genuinely enjoy their company. And OK, maybe that sparkly feeling you get when hanging out is because their presence is fresh and new and wonderful. But! There might be a little something else there. So, how can you tell?
Relationship coach and behavioral scientist Clarissa Silva says the key to differentiating between romantic and platonic interest is, mainly, sexual attraction. Sometimes, you feel intense adoration for someone that makes you want to be closer to them and that's perfectly platonic. On the other hand, Silva says, "With a romantic crush, you have the same desire plus sexual curiosity and attraction for them."
It is possible, too, to have a platonic friend that you find super attractive and have a bit of a crush on. And that's how Dr. Darcy Sterling, Tinder's Dating and Relationship Trends Expert, distinguishes platonic crushes and romantic crushes. "A platonic crush is when you have a crush on someone who is either unobtainable — think [a] celebrity crush — or you have a crush on someone who you have no intention of initiating intimacy with," Sterling explains. There are many reasons why you might not actually want to initiate intimacy with your crush. Either they're in a monogamous relationship or you're in a monogamous relationship. Maybe you work with them and don't want to be unprofessional. Or perhaps you just don't see a romantic relationship working out between you two. And so a romantic crush, on the other hand, is when you're crushing on someone who you might actually initiate intimacy with. If this is ringing any bells, here are five more signs — general thirst aside — that you probably have a crush on a certain someone.
1. You feel giddy and excited thinking about them
Typically, when you have a crush, your body is releasing chemicals such as dopamine, norepinephrine, and endogenous opioids. Clinical neuropsychologist Dr. Rhonda Freeman told Elite Daily that norepinephrine heightens attention levels and arousal. "This is the chemistry we can actually feel throughout our body," Freeman said. "Not only in our mind."
Adrenaline, too, Silva says, is what brings on the sweat, butterflies and your mouth going dry whenever you're around the person. So if you feel delicious jolt of electricity when a notification from your crush pops up on your screen (or just thinking about their smile pools your palms with sweat)? Yeah, sis, it's the norepinephrine. And you just might have the hots for them.
2. You're v curious about what they're up to
"Wanting to see what they're up to" is the polite way to put it. That more accurate term would simply be Instagram-stalking. Of course, a preliminary scroll is fine. But if you find yourself deep in their Twitter profile to ensure you have similar taste in memes (or lingering on Instagram Stories to figure out which café they're a regular at), you might be crushing. Bonus points if you get an inexplicable pang of saltiness when you see them with people who could be their lover, because it wouldn't matter if you were just interested in someone platonically. If you're doing a FBI-grade investigation on your "not"-crush's profile, be sure to take FBI-level precaution and not accidentally like a picture from 77 weeks ago.
The bottom line: Dutifully checking out someone's page and/or consistently finding excuses to text them are pretty strong indicators you've got a crush on someone. Remarkably, these behaviors have their basis in science, too. The endogenous opioids are what makes a crush feel rewarding, according to Freeman. These chemicals are at play when you simply think of crush. But, as Freeman said, "This is heightened even more when we see them, get texts from them, or spend time with them. Our stress system heightens our senses and we notice everything about them: their smell, their smile, their mannerisms, their laugh, facial expressions."
This is why it feels extra yummy interacting with anything related to your crush. Every time you check out their page or hit them up, just know it's the endogenous opioids in your brain that are saying, "That's great, that felt good, and we should definitely do that over and over again!"
3. You might feel a bit stressed
Apart from making you feel warm and sparkly, crushes can also stress you the f*ck out. Typically, you will feel giddy and happy at the thought of your crush, Sterling acknowledges. But, she adds, "If you struggle with anxiety or depression, you may find that those symptoms decrease during a crush." Likewise, clinical sexologist and therapist Dr. Kat van Kirk told CNN, "Lovesickness may actually be the stress hormone cortisol contracting the blood vessels in your stomach, making you feel sick."
If you're finding that being around your crush makes you anxious, there are little steps you can take to break that cycle. Try speaking up about the little things around them. Offer them a compliment. And remind yourself that if a joke with your crush doesn't land or they curve you when you ask them out, it's just one awkward moment in the grand scheme of your life. You can try talking to a therapist about ways to become more confident. Or, in a pinch, text your best friend to gas you up before you see your crush. Practicing crush interactions with a friend can honestly go a long way.
4. You're fantasizing about them
Sometimes, this fantasizing is fairly innocent. According to Sterling, it could be that you:
- You imagine conversations you might have with them.
- When you’re not with them and you say something funny, you wonder if they’d find it funny too.
- You think about them as you’re getting ready for the day, wondering if they’ll like your makeup, your outfit, your hair.
And, of course, the plain fact that you're thinking about the other person "excessively." These are thoughts that can cross your mind at the start of a platonic friendship, but there comes a point where you just have to ask yourself why you'd care so much if your feelings weren't romantic.
And then, sometimes the fantasizing is distinctly sexual. When it comes to falling in love, lust is a key phase in the process, writes psychologist Dr. Melanie Greenberg. And it's exactly what you'd expect: "You want to seduce them or be seduced." With all the chemicals of heightened attention, arousal, and excitement running through your body, some of those juicy thoughts about how nice this certain someone's hair is and or simply that they have good taste in music. Sometimes, if you're crushing on someone, your thoughts about them will be a little... spicy.
This is where the chemical dopamine comes into crushing: It affects your mood, attention, and motivation. "You will crave, feel more motivated, energized, and attentive simply by the thought of [your] new mate," Freeman said. Sterling also points to the rush of dopamine (as well as serotonin) that comes from crushing, "the culmination of which makes you feel like you’re on top of the world." With serotonin in particular, Silva says it's what keeps someone in your thoughts subconsciously and consciously. "It takes on an obsessional nature. Some research reports you thinking about the person at a rate of 65 percent of your day."
These neurochemicals will give you a rush during the good-natured chats about favorite movies and during spirited sports banter. They'll also flood your body at 3 a.m. thoughts when your brain wanders to how badly you'd like a certain someone to be in bed with you and... et cetera. So if there's any doubt why someone takes up so much space in your brain (and why it feels so good), take note!
5. You do things for their attention
Going out of your way to try new TV shows or food that someone likes could just be the steps you take to build up a blossoming friendship. But that, on top of, say, pointed humble-bragging about school or work (or making a point to be bold, approach them, and flirt) are typically moves people make to get their crush to notice them. "If you’re extroverted, you will most likely try to get there attention in some way in hopes that they will reciprocate your feelings," Silva says. That means taking even more risk than usual. Even if you're an introvert, Silva says, you might find yourself getting awfully chatty with someone despite your typically nature.
Attention-seeking behavior (related to crushes) extends to social media, too. Do you post the occasional gym selfie, makeup flex or general thirst-trap in hopes that someone specific will see it? There's a term for that — it's called "Gatsbying" — and it's definitely something done for the attention of a crush as opposed to just a friend. If you find yourself doing any of this with your "not"-crush, you need to examine your motivations behind what you're doing.
The fact of that matter is that if you feel an inordinate amount of giddiness, a pointed amount of interest, and a noticeable amount of stress and excitement, you very well may have a crush on someone. And again, if there was someone you were thinking of the entire time you were reading this... chances are you've already signed a lease in Crushville. You heart just might have known it before your head did.