How do you tell the difference between a friend and a crush?
I once saw a post on facebook saying ‘that tingly feeling you get when you like someone is common sense leaving your body’. I really like this definition because the only way I can really tell that I have a crush on someone is that I notice myself being kinda stupid around them. Even then though, I don’t really think I treat crushes much differently to how I treat new friends. Either way, what I want is to get to hang out and talk and do fun things with them, so it all ends the same.
Can you describe what it feels like to have a crush? Or a squish or other types of attraction? Are these things easy for you to differentiate? How do you decide what to do about your shiny new feelings?
I have a whole blog post worth of an answer. Please check out the other comments there for other people’s answers! There are plenty of good ones.
I really like Kasey Weird’s exploration of Squishing and Crushing, in two blog post parts, here: https://valprehension.com/2016/05/30/squishing-and-crushing/ and here: https://valprehension.com/2016/06/06/squishing-and-crushing-part-2-other-times-i-say-crush-instead-of-squish/
But that is personal to them, of course.
Your question “How do you tell the difference between a friend and a crush?” is defining crush as a person instead of crush as a feeling, since it’s directly contrasted with “a friend”.
That seems odd to me since most people who count as someone’s crush would also indeed be their friend – or, like, a celebrity, maybe… or perhaps mentor… or, well, there is a gray-area where you can have a squish on a person because they aren’t really your friend yet, they are an acquaintance, but you *want* them to become your friend? Or people can similarly have “crushes” on acquaintances…
Coyote also has a GREAT blog post on Friendship flirting: https://theacetheist.wordpress.com/2016/02/26/friendship-flirting/
Then of course your question expands more into discussing a “Feeling” type definition.
This entire Question of the Week is related, for me, to still technically feeling like “WTFromantic” will always fit me even if I stopped actively identifying that way, and even if I never (and still don’t) identified as “demiromantic” I also think it maybe could on some level fit my patterns.
I identify as gray-aromantic/gray-panromantic and entirely asexual.
I experience finding certain women, especially actresses in TV and film and perfect hair etc, aesthetically attractive/mesmerizing but that isn’t any kind of “Crush” feeling for me. That is mere admiration in and of itself, usually, or perhaps a slight amount of envy. I basically don’t experience aesthetic attraction in “Real life”.
Before I knew the words and before I’d grasped the concepts of asexuality and aromanticism: https://luvtheheaven.wordpress.com/2016/08/30/when-someone-learns-a-word-but-it-will-take-a-lot-for-them-to-grasp-the-concept-it-describes/ I had what I called crushes on maybe 5 total guys that I’m thinking of right now, 4 of which were in elementary/middle/high school (all 4 I still knew while I was in high school) and 1 in college – plus I had at least 1 male celebrity I was particularly fixated upon (and 1 female celebrity, which became a big part of me considering if I might not be straight and, lacking the knowledge of asexuality, wondered if I be bi). I think all of these, even the celebrities but especially the people I knew as casual friends/friendly acquaintances, were probably something more like squishes, where my feelings were heightened by the loneliness/isolation I experienced and lack of close friendships in high school and college, AND my feelings heightened by the scripts of how people are supposed to feel toward a crush.
I would notice my “crush” person and consciously realize “oh that’s THE GUY I have a crush on, I need to notice more about him” like… like BECAUSE he was my crush. I’d become (I guess, kinda, on-purpose!) obsessively watching him and learning about him and finding “everything about who he was as a human being” interesting. I wanted to do romantic things with my crush because if I HAD to do romantic things with someone, if romance was something I couldn’t opt out of, well then I liked him as much as anyone else, right? And I had no experience yet to help me realize that actually I’m super kissing-averse, that actually, I’m pretty darn fulfilled by platonic stuff, etc. So I asked one of my crushes to a dance even, and I think what I really wanted was to get to know this person and talk to him more and just… it just was a squish. He declined going to the dance with me, but I think this guy is the clearest example I have of how he was definitely a squish for me even if I categorized him as a crush back then – he was the quietest guy, he was so non-threatening/safe, I felt comfortable with the thought of trying to explore things that deep down I didn’t want to do at all… and I wanted to hear him share more about himself. I wanted to learn who he really was, because I only had small hints so far and I was intrigued. That kind of thing. That was the full scope of my desires, truly.
Deciding I was aromantic and deciding I don’t have crushes are kinda one and the same for me, and narratives that romantic attraction/crushes involve wanting to kiss help push me in the “I guess I don’t feel crushes” direction, by the way.
I also had what is probably best described as squish type feelings on two of the three guys I tried dating through online dating means – the two I found through OkCupid rather than the one guy I found on Plenty of Fish. I didn’t know these guys yet but what I knew already based on detailed profiles and seeing where we matched on OkC’s questions was enough to make me excited to get to know them better. The excited squish feelings faded with time, I think. The first guy ruined everything for me on our second date, the second OkC guy… him wanting me in sexual ways triggered my entire identity crisis and jumpstarted my path into really for sure figuring out my asexuality, and being with him became more about my sense of who I was than about my feelings for him before too long. He was a fine person, a nice guy I cared about, but I didn’t even feel “in love” with him over time, I just basically felt like he was a friend, any old friend.
More recently though, I have fallen in love with two people from my local ace meetup. One was my queerplatonic partner. I decided I was in love with him after we’d already been queerplatonic partners for a little while. I felt strong squish type feelings for him around the first or second time I met him (at an ace meetup), I just… wanted to get to know him, give us becoming friends a chance, was especially excited that his meetup.com profile showed him also in the local atheist meetups just like me, etc. I grew to “like” him as a friend more and more the more he gave me rides places, the more we agreed to do things like watch all the Star Wars movies together… I wrote this blog post.
It helped a LOT that we were both aro-ish ace and sex-averse, that we could each expect a close friendship to be the maximum level of bonding in our lives with anyone else or with each other anyway, that sex and kissing was 100% off the table and not going to cause awkward one-sided emotions for either of us (which made us each feel safer and more comfortable “letting” ourselves feel fully “enamored”)… was it a crush? A mutual crush? OR was it a squish? I don’t think either of us really knew for sure or had any clear frame of reference to figure it out. Because he had been sure he was gay before realizing he was ace (long story), it seemed very likely any feelings he had for me, a woman, would not be romantic but rather would be platonic. But then when he broke up with me (the first time – we got back together 5.5 months later) he said he’d been hoping to feel “butterflies” and… well I explained here: https://luvtheheaven.wordpress.com/2016/07/23/risk-courage-disappointment-resilience-everything-changing-me-catching-up-part-3-of-3/ – like…
All I can say is even if I fell in this comfortable “in love” type feeling with him eventually, I still didn’t want to classify my relationship as romantic — I preferred the queerplatonic terminology — and my initial feelings that led to all this were just “I like you as a friend”/”You are a more awesome friend than I could’ve hoped for”, and before that “I have this feeling that I might really like to be friends with you if we got to knew each other better”… which to me is all squish territory.
So why do I identify as gray-panromantic if ALL my squishes above were on guys?
Well, I’m 28 now, and it’s been only 4.5 years since I’ve been identifying as asexual, and even then at first I still was clinging to heteroromantic as an identity. I had to let go of my heterosexual identity. See here: https://luvtheheaven.wordpress.com/2018/01/31/immutibility-aka-the-parts-of-myself-that-i-can-count-on/#comment-1158 Like… I had convinced myself I was straight for so long. Also this blog post of mine! https://luvtheheaven.wordpress.com/2017/10/01/once-upon-a-time-i-was-a-cishet-ace/ —
I thought I was straight for a lot of my life. About my straightness, I was wrong.
Etc. I … I think I had misclassified squishes for so long as crushes, but only when the squish was on a guy. It became a notable LIFE EVENT in some sense if I had a “Crush”, especially since way way deep down a tiny part of me knew I was not actually alloromantic-allosexual and having a crush would be a mark in the “yes I am normal” direction, so I clung to it for dear life, however false it was. I built it up. I made those squishes on the appropriate gender for crushes into something they weren’t.
And I only attempted online dating guys. I still to this day haven’t really given dating girls or nonbinary people a chance.
I had squishes on girls my whole life, but that was always… “normal”. You’re allowed to want to be friends with a new girl acquaintance when you’re a cis girl yourself. So it wasn’t particularly notable when I felt the cautious and nervous excitement and motivation to try to become friends with someone who was the same gender as me. And I loved my friends deeply in a platonic way that I never really felt like I had to question. I appreciate my friends, and cousins, and feel what can best be described as love after a period of friendship, and of course it’s a platonic type of love, because they are a friend to me. But yes, it takes time and periods of actual bonding before I actually feel the love. Loving an aunt or uncle or great-grandparent I barely “know” just because they are family isn’t my lived experience, and I always felt like I was kinda lying if I signed a greeting card to one of those folks “Love, Emily”. At the same time, love for friends is supposed to be unspoken, it would be awkward to sign a card I give a friend with the “Love” sentiment…
Since knowing the term squish, I think I notice my squishes on people of any gender a bit more. I feel it more often toward guys I think, because I hang out with a lot of guys who I really LOVE the way they think. I bond over deep conversation at certain nonreligious themed meetups (or ones that attract very similar crowds although religious people who want to have these conversations can show up too) and they tend to be overwhelmingly men in attendance, and some women sure, but more of a “friendship pool” of guys and I end up feeling my feelings toward guys more of the time.
That being said, I have felt squish type feelings toward women, for sure, and even toward a few nonbinary people in my life. In fact, I’ve felt stronger, more intense squishes toward those folks, most often because they are less likely to be sexually attracted to my gender, and I find myself even considering the possibility of queerplatonic partnership with them, in my own idiosyncratic way. Usually once I lose the hope of us having any potential as QPPs, my feelings even out to normal “I like you in the way I like all my friends” level, or dissipate entirely if I stop really feeling much at all and they never really became more than an acquaintance.
Sometimes a person becomes a particularly close friend to me, and that can happen regardless of their gender, and it can also happen whether I had a period of Squishing on them or not. It might just suddenly be “oh yeah we’re pretty darn close friends now, when did that happen?” or it might’ve first started with “wow you seem awesome I want to get to know you more/spend more time with you/become closer”.
Most friends I don’t ultimately feel like I’m “in love” with but there was one friend in addition to my queerplatonic partner who I felt it with. This friend is not a guy, and my feelings being that intense and sure for a non-guy help confirm my gray-panromantic identity rather than just being gray-heteroromantic in any sense. This friend is aroace, and not interested in having children, so I haven’t told them how I feel, since I only think it’s relevant to disclose my feelings if we had any chance of working out as co-parents. I don’t really want to become QPPs with someone just because of feelings. I want the commitment in a practical sense because of shared future goals. And therefore. I don’t want our friendship to change. My feelings of being “in love” ebb and flow with this friend, but generally, I really love our friendship for what it is. I didn’t as immediately feel squish feelings for this friend, but at some point before we were super close friends, I had a realization that my friend was someone I… admired a little more than was logical, was someone I thought was just so impressive and amazing and… well, I valued my friendship with this person to a really high degree. And I think my feelings probably fell under the sub-heading of a “Squish”.
I don’t really have any real conclusion. I just thought a few people might be interested in me unpacking the concept of squishes and how it works for me personally so. Now I’ve done it. Please comment if you have any thoughts or want to share how it’s similar or different for you!