Samantha Kirschberg
April 27, 2015 6:00 am

You know that feeling you get when you realize you like someone? As in like-like them? Sometimes it hits you instantaneously, the second you lay eyes on this Harry Styles doppelgänger. Other times, you’re hanging out with a good friend and you suddenly see them in a totally different light. Huh? Do I think [insert the name of the buddy/chum/pal here] is cute?! Well, ready or not, you’ve just entered what I like to call Crush Mode.

You second-guess everything. OMG, I sent an emoji — is it too soon? What if he thinks emojis are lame? Or: Wait, is she really too busy to hang out, or is she just saying that? And just the idea that the object of your affection might be with somebody else makes you want to cryogenically freeze yourself, only to be thawed if and when this situation can resolve itself to your satisfaction. Yep, Crush Mode has been activated. But it’s different for everyone. Let’s unpack these different kinds of crushes, shall we?

First Crush

This is when, for the first time ever, you suffer an attack of jealousy just hearing someone else utter the person’s name. It’s as if your heart is demolished just thinking that your crush is out there in the world, living, without knowing how you feel about them, and people just feel free to talk about his or her existence as if it were just the most casual thing in the world instead of a blessed miracle. Your heart races every time you see this person, and do your palms sweat? Oh, you bet they do. It’s really confusing, because this has never happened before, and you want to kiss this person so badly, except you don’t, because you don’t know how it works, because you’ve never done it. But would you even survive the kiss without exploding into a million pieces? OTOH, would you survive not being kissed? Man, this is intense.

New Crush

This is the crush that comes after that first one, assuming you made it out alive. (I’m totally kidding, of course you did.) A new crush kind of restores your sanity, because just when you thought that you couldn’t possibly ever feel the same way about anyone as you did your first crush, whaddya know? You feel that strongly about this new person. A realization is slowly dawning on you. You don’t quite articulate it yet, but you’re beginning to sense that this crush thing might not be so singular after all. At first it was “Liam Hemsworth Or Bust,” but now you find your eyes straying to Chris Pratt. Maybe there is room in your life for both Liam and Chris.

Friend Crush

Ruh-roh. This crush can go one of two ways, right? Either you’re both doing the friend thing but secretly getting the hots for the other until one day, sensing the moment is right, you consummate these feelings and it’s bliss, like Nick and Jessica or Ross and Rachel. People say stuff like “I married my best friend” all the time, so this should make sense and work out.

OR. Only one of you feels this way, and it’s a new form of torture, because unlike other crushes, you’re so close yet SO FAR AWAY. And I guess there’s a third possibility, which is that you both feel the same way but it still doesn’t work out, also like Nick and Jessica/Ross and Rachel, and you just go back to being friends…except does that ever actually happen outside of TV? Needless to say, there’s a lot to think about.

Internet Crush

So maybe you both follow each other on social media sites, or you just kind of find each other in the same network, but you’ve never actually met. It’s strange, because you hardly know the person, but you feel like you do. You know he loves Wes Anderson and Beyoncé, just like you do, because you’re soulmates, but you ignore all the stuff that contradicts this conclusion. You enjoy whatever witticisms 140 characters allows for, but you get jealous when she talks about the celebrities she finds attractive. WTH? Who are you? Chances are you’re projecting a lot of your fantasies onto this person, who hasn’t a chance yet to live up to them or let you down. But Twitter and Instagram and Tumblr crushes can and do sometimes work out IRL. Just don’t get catfished!

Secret Crush

Shhhhhhhhhh. This is the crush nobody knows about, or almost nobody anyway. You really like this person but for some reason it has to stay hush hush. Maybe you’re just too mortified that anyone would find out because they seem out of your league. Or maybe they have a significant other. You want this relationship to fail, of course…but on the other hand, you like them so much that maybe you want it to work out so they’ll be happy! But then you’ll be unhappy. It’s complicated. And it’s OK to sometimes keep these crushes to yourself. The drama of other people knowing can create even more of a headache, and you might be better off nursing this one alone.

Forever Crush

Some crushes come and go, dissipating almost as quickly as they arrived — this is not that crush. This is the one you always fall back on, the one that sneaks back into your mind, sometimes when you’re in the middle of some other Crush Mode. Maybe this is the friend, or maybe this person is still out of reach. But I like to think they stuck around for a reason. This is the person you will marry and find eternal happiness with.

No matter what, know this: You’re not alone. We all have those times in our lives when the refrain to Paramore’s “crushcrushcrush” seems like it was written especially for us: “’Cause I’d rather waste my life pretending / Than have to forget you for one whole minute.” It’s a little crazy, and sometimes borderline stalker-y, but remember: It will either work out or it will pass. You will not spend your whole life pining after one person, even if you can’t imagine doing anything else right now. Crush Mode is just a state of mind. Enjoy it, or move on.

[Images via Shutterstock, ]

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