Your first crush is a rite of passage. The fixations that follow it are just life. Nervous, awkward, sublime. Disastrous. Transcendent. Here, we celebrate infatuations, obsessions, and passions in all their exquisite splendor. Meet our It’s Just a Little Crush series. Isn’t she divine?
The first crush I remember was on Miss Debbie, my nursery school teacher. She was pretty and had a bowl haircut that I found extremely fetching when I was three. She was nice, and she taught us how to sing and dance and clean up after ourselves, and I was smitten. She also had a fondness for a pussybow blouse and a long skirt. Who wouldn’t adore such a maven of fashion and important life skills?
Later, I would have crushes on such diverse individuals as the animated He-Man, two out of five Kids in the Hall, Britney Spears, Rami Malek, this guy who showed me how to tie a rope harness during climbing class in gym, Hayley Kiyoko, my onetime best friend’s onetime boyfriend, this random actor who consistently watches my Instagram stories yet never talks to me, a nerdy senior in college when I was a gawky freshman, Keanu Reeves, Mahershala Ali, an elfin actress I decided I could magically make queer through the power of my personality (surprisingly, this did not work), and like 80,000 other people.
Crushes don’t have to be reciprocal to be fun, energizing, enjoyable, and beneficial to your overall health. They don’t have to become dates, hookups, committed relationships, or romantic liaisons of any kind. While I’ve been delighted that a few of my crushes have turned into real relationships, I’ve had fun with crushes that never made it past the fantasy stage. I kept to appropriate boundaries—thrilled to the cuteness, smartness and general awesomeness of somebody from afar—and then eventually got over it without going into some desperate state of pining. (Let’s save the pining for folks we really love, okay?) The point is I recommend this! The unrequited crush, that is. Allow me to explain.
Crushes give you a reason to go to work
Or to school, or the gym, or the DMV, or the grocery store…you get the idea. Crushes can enliven your boring routine, put a little pep in your step, and transform your daily walk past the office coffee maker into something extraordinary because that guy sits right by it! You get that hit of endorphins or dopamine or pixie dust or whatever your brain releases when somebody hot smiles at you, and suddenly your post-lunch energy slump becomes a marvelous moment of motivation.
Crushes make you take more care with your appearance
A crush should enhance your interest in what you wear and how you present yourself, and that’s a good thing! I’m not talking about unhealthy obsessions with weight, the whiteness of your teeth, the color of your hair, the length of your nails, or anything that leads you to engage in unnecessary self-criticism. I’m talking about taking genuine pleasure in learning a new makeup technique or using a new hair product because you want to feel cute and dammit, you’re not going to let anything stop you! And whether or not your crush takes notice, you will feel prettier and maybe even sexier.
Crushes are hilarious
Think about it: crushes are ridiculous. You’ll try to interpret the meaning of his choice in t-shirts, or try to clock her moods based on how she styled her hair that day. You’ll notice the music she blasts behind the counter of the coffee bar, or try to figure out his astrological sign so you can put it through some pseudoscientific website feature that will auto-generate an explanation of what kind of sex you’d have. (Yes, I have done this—more than once. Have a problem?) In this weary old world, we all need a bit more silliness and goofiness in our day-to-day lives, so why not give ourselves the chance to giggle over a random online quiz that purports to predict your chance for a long-term marriage with a near-stranger? Enjoy yourself!
As long as you stick to appropriate boundaries and don’t bother, intimidate, harass or otherwise creep out that cutie patootie, a little unrequited love should be a fun bit of mental recreation with the positive side effect of providing fuel for the occasional masturbatory session. At some point it’ll pass, and you’ll move on to the next FedEx hottie, or KPop star, or chick who sometimes runs at the park at the same time you do. Look at that, a double endorphin rush!
Sara Benincasa is a stand-up comedian and author of Real Artists Have Day Jobs. Follow her @SaraJBenincasa.