My first proper crush was Ben. He was tall, dark and impossibly handsome with a smile that could melt brick. I was 11, acutely aware of being neither cool nor hot, with a dodgy perm and a Philip Schofield fixation; I didn’t stand a chance. That didn’t stop me daydreaming about him constantly, of course, and ‘accidentally’ ending up in the same place as him at break time every day. Unattainability is the soil in which crushes are nurtured, so with ample supplies of the fertiliser of unrequited love, this one grew and grew.
I don’t remember how I moved on, but move on I did, into that strange teenage netherworld of ‘going out’ with ‘boyfriends’ which involved neither going out nor being friends and often lasted only a matter of hours – beginning with ‘my mate fancies you’ and ending with ‘my mate says you’re dumped’. It’s entirely possible there were boyfriends with whom I never shared so much as a glance as the relationship was conducted entirely through third parties. Maybe this technique is worth revisiting?
At 14 I met Mark. He was older, cooler and gorgeous. He played the guitar and had long hair and brown eyes like pools of delicious chocolate. I thought he was some kind of god, which was irrelevant because he didn’t care what anyone thought of him. Although our relationship lasted over a year it is only with hindsight that I see it falls into ‘crush’ territory; my feelings were pretty much one way and to this day I have no real idea why he was with me. Though we spent every spare moment at school walking around in circles and holding hands, he went to parties without me, to gigs without me, even out with other girls without me. I was so blinded by the force of my crush and so pathetically grateful for the morsels of attention he threw my way that I convinced myself he loved me and accepted ‘us’ the way we were – the unattainability factor being still strong, even though we were together.
Richard entered my life when I was 20. He was worldly, employed and incredibly good-looking; I was smitten – what chance did I stand with such a catch? The unattainability factor was high with this one. Somehow, I wore him down and we were married 5 years later. 9 years down the line and, sadly, we are getting divorced. It’s almost as though my crush retreated exactly as he became more permanent.
Now, as a 34 year old single woman, everyone seems out of my league and therefore my crushing has gotten completely out of control. I build imaginary futures in my head with virtual strangers and obsess over unravelling the hidden messages behind every nuanced look or comment. Ironically, I am perfectly happy being single – it’s not like I’m some desperado, hunting for my next husband – so the completeness with which this man-fixation has overwhelmed me is nonsensical and unwelcome.
So what’s the answer? Who knows? I think crushes are the emotional equivalent of the common cold – everyone gets them in varying degrees of intensity and there is no known cure, they just ease off slowly and suddenly you realise they’re gone. In the meantime, I need to discover the emotional equivalent of Lemsip; I think the Olympics and the plethora of half-naked demi-gods might just do it. If anyone wants me for the next few weeks, I'll be watching TV...