You know it, your friends know it, their friends know it, and they might even know it. You’ve got a crush on them, and it’s probably scaring the hell out of you. Anyone could expose your not-so-secret secret to that one person, but you don’t want them to know… yet.

They could be anyone in your life but once you’ve got a crush, there’s no stopping it. You sit in class thinking about them. You peek at them sitting with their friends in Usdan. They’re probably the last thing you think about before you go to bed. And when they bless you with their presence and actually talk to you, you can’t find the courage to tell them your not-so-secret secret. So you just spew whatever you think they’ll want to hear. Maybe they’ll think you’re funny or charming? You can only hope.

You start noticing the most insignificant things they do: how they laugh, how cute they look when they use that bunny filter on Snapchat, a nervous tick they might not even know they have. You become aware of the way they move, the slang they use, how they pout, how they ruffle their hair.

It’s hard to put into words what it feels like to have a real, full-fledged crush. It’s exciting and fun to think about being with them, but also fills your body with anxiety. What if they just don’t feel the same way? So you wait, secretly hoping someone tells them. Maybe they’ve been into you this whole time. Maybe they’ll make the first move.

But what if say they’re flattered but interested in someone else? What if they don’t like you back? What if they hadn’t been obsessing over you for weeks?

Probably the most ridiculous part about “crushing” is understanding and embracing how crazy you might sound in your own head. These reveries start with you two on a date and everything going well, and then all of a sudden, you think, “Wow, if anyone knew I thought about this kind of stuff, they’d think I was insane.” But then, you return to your fantasy, seeing yourself on your wedding day with them, and then with your two sons in the house you’ll own together. You can’t control the emotional masturbation.

All we ever do is try to please our crush, whether it’s giving them the notes they missed from class, or buying them drinks at Bar Night. Our crush dictates the way we think and act because a crush isn’t just a concept in the present; it’s how we see our ideal future, and how we really don’t want to mess up that fantasy.

But I’ve figured out that a crush is really nothing more than a relationship with someone in your own head. I can talk to them as much as I want, but it’s never real. I can build them up to be the perfect person with every quality I’ve ever desired, and the only consistency is the way they talk because it’s my mind saying what I can only hope they would say. I control everything. And as blissful as that may seem, all bets are off when I need to face the reality of who they actually are.

It can be exhilarating thinking about someone every minute of every day, but I know that once I make that leap into an actual relationship with them, things could just not work out even though I thought we both loved “Step Brothers” and Hawaiian pizza. In real life they only eat greek salads and their favorite movie is “The Notebook.” Our political views could not align. Our astrological signs could not match up (I know, a major deal breaker to some).

Everyone could seem like the best person in the world in my head. But what if I saw them do something that makes me second guess my fantasy? I remember I have only ever loved the idea of them, not the actual them. It would be like seeing someone from across a field and thinking they are the most beautiful person ever. But as you approach them, the details become finer. Once you are just feet from their face, you realize you are definitely not in love with what you are seeing. Having a crush is like seeing that person from a hundred yards away. But as you get closer, you realize you only loved what you were imagining in your head.

“Crushing” is not “love,” it’s “like”. You can only love what you have experienced in the real world and a crush is not that. It’s a dream that we manufacture, but sometimes dreams can come true. The dream is to find someone who’s as beautiful from hundred yards away as they are when we are just inches apart.

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