What does having a crush feel like? Symptoms and science

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Falling in love with a person is one of the most powerful feelings we can experience in our lives. So all-encompassing and engaging that we often feel confused, lost, unable to understand what’s happening to us. Because we are not always able to rationalize the fact that the strong feelings we experience are just the typical sensations of having a crush: more often we know we have strong feelings but we don’t understand why we live a series of out-of-control side emotions, and we think that these are extraordinary elements concerning us and that particular moment. Still, maybe what we feel is nothing extraordinary: let’s clarify and understand what typically happens when we have a crush on somebody.

Crush and love: the evolutionary perspective

First of all, it’s useful to point out the difference between having a crush and being in love and the reason why we, as human beings within our evolutionary path, experience these two different emotional experiences.

Having a crush is that typical intense sensation that we feel when we are strongly attracted to a person. It’s the initial phase, the one in which we realized that a given person could be the right one for us. It’s the feeling of the “butterflies in the stomach”, the moment in which that person completely invades our thoughts. From a biological and evolutionary point of view, these feelings lead us to intensify the relationship with that person.

The feelings of a crush are irrational: we do not yet know in detail why that person fascinates us so much. It’s still early, we don’t know that person enough yet to rationalize what we feel. Precisely for this reason, if is wasn’t for these strong sensations within us, we would not be rationally driven to get closer them as soon as possible. Thanks to the emotional storm of the crush, two people are led to spend as much time as possible together, to deepen their knowledge and become intimate, building the foundations for a stable relationship.

Unlike having a crush, being in love has a different form and role. Love is a stable emotion that comes into play when we discover we want to take care of that person in a lasting way and we have the feeling that this intention is mutual. Love comes when the relationship has already taken place and its role is to cement it for the long term, giving the fuel and the empathy needed every day and ensuring the necessary stability for the growth of the family.

The physical symptoms of a crush

In the false belief that having a crush means only trying a first stage of emotions that bring us closer to that person, we don’t realize that this phase implies a series of regular symptoms that definitely belong to this condition.

In the idealization of the moment we believe that we got a crush because we are experiencing a unique meeting of souls, because destiny wanted it this way and because we have crossed the right person at the right time. In reality those are awarenesses that are consolidated only in the subsequent phase of love, while having a crush has no solid reasons to be convinced of that. We can say that the feeling that has more to do with our souls is love and that comes later, while the crush is more about our instinctive, irrational, biochemical-neurological reactions.

Typical “symptoms” of falling in love are:

  • Strong physical attraction: it’s the first sign that should make us understand that in this phase things are less tied to our soul. Physical attraction cannot be explained, but scientifically it has a lot to do with smells: it is the evolutionary thrust that draws us towards an individual for reasons that, ultimately, are oriented to the reproduction and survival of the species.
  • Smells and hormones: smells are processed by the instinctive part of our brain and trigger pheromones, the hormones that cause all the feelings related to a crush. From the chemical point of view, we find the smell of a person as more pleasant as the genetic heritage of that person is more different from ours. This has a significant biological reason: the more the partner is genetically different from us, the higher the probability that potential children are strong and capable. Genetically, diversity makes us more skilled. An important general lesson can be deduced: the right person with whom to have children is not as more identical as possible to us, but exactly the opposite, he/she’s the one that completes us best with his/her diversity.
  • Euphoria and hyperactivity: when we get a crush, we think and act faster. We believe that it’s something disconnected from what we feel, but on the contrary it’s closely connected to it. We are constantly excited by the stimuli, mentally and physically, we have a much faster brain activity, our appetite changes and we often sleep less. It’s the urge to live that moment of our life as intensely as possible.
  • Addiction: we often compare the person we have a crush on with to a drug, because the closer we are to each other, the more we seem to have a physical feeling of addiction that drives us to get even closer. We believe these are exceptional sensations, but they are typical of every crush. Our body is invaded by neurotransmitters like dopamine, which are the same ones that kick in when one has an addiction to physical substances. What we feel is a strong need of the other person, to the limits of obsession. It’s what has driven poets and writers of human history to write their masterpieces.

Small curiosity: during a crush, testosterone levels tend to decrease in men and increase in women. This makes men more gentle and empathetic and increase sexual desire in women, two important elements to facilitate the relationship between men and women in the early stages of a relationship.

So feelings of physical addiction, hyperactivity, strong attraction and constant thinking towards that person: when this happens, you are not experiencing anything exceptional. That’s what happens to all people on a crush. And it’s obviously a temporary phase, which results in the most stable phase of love once the bond is formed.

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