Crush Culture: How Something we Think is Innocent Affects us

I’ve talked about my crushes before, in several posts. And I’ve even talked briefly about the evolution of my reasoning skills (or lack thereof) in regards to my love life. I will mention my complete evolution of my love life later on, but right now I want to conclude the discussion on crushes, one-itis, catching feelings, whatever you want to call it. It will serve as a segue to another series that I will be writing about regarding dating, sex and relationships.

Dating and relationships are slowly becoming a theater of culture wars. I’m not going to go deep on this, but I will provide a couple of worldviews and a quick opinion.

Traditionally unattractive dudes and chicks who aren’t sexually satisfied complain about “hookup culture,” where they compare dating to shopping for some new clothes or something, although hookup culture isn’t nearly as widespread as they think. To me its actually a great thing, that all I have to do is just message 50 chicks online to get an awesome date and sex within a week. I would argue that for chicks its an amazing thing. I mean look, not even half a century ago if you were a chick your family would pretty much line up who you could date, much less have sex with. Can you imagine how sexually frustrated chicks were before it became easy for them to meet dudes? So what if meeting people is more convenient? It should have been this way from the start! People who complain about it really need to understand that sex is becoming more and more a gatekeeper to a relationship. This is a GOOD thing, as we are now becoming more open to sex. This will lead to less of everything: Less unhappy couples, less sexual assault, less suicides over crushes. I love hookup culture, and you should too.

This same group (although its more chicks than dudes generally) warn against “rape culture,” where they argue that it is still permissible for dudes to have sex with chicks without the chicks’ permission with the punishments for it being downplayed. Although this still exists, it is not a popular worldview and although it may have been a legitimate concern, today it is not as big a concern. There are always going to be horrible people who ignore the very basic rule of “make sure the other person is always comfortable in the end.” Nothing can be eliminated when it comes to philosophies, but yes it is a good idea to contain it.

Also, to anyone who wants to scream about rape culture “scaring dudes into not pursuing sex,” keep in mind that when people talk about it, they are just protecting their own kind. If I were a chick, I’d be concerned about it too. I wouldn’t want to worry about some creep jamming their dick in my vagina if I were a chick. Getting permission to have sex (no matter who you are) is a good idea anyways. Also, to me it’s passive eugenics, which is something I have always been in favor of. If you are too stupid to assume that there is consent, they you are probably too stupid to have sex (again, this goes for all genders and orientations).

However, that’s all I’ll ever say about hookup culture and rape culture in the realm of how they affect dating and relationships. There is another culture that no one really demonizes, that has been relevant for (literally) millennia. It is the precursor to all the worst aspects of hookup and rape culture. It doesn’t even have a name yet. Well I’m giving it a name now: Crush Culture.

What is a crush?

I’ve talked about this before, but not in detail. What exactly is a crush, what happens when someone has a crush? These questions are going to be answered now, according to my own experience.

A crush occurs when you meet someone with the intent of dating them, and you begin to overvalue them. There are several reasons why this happens, and they differ from person to person, but the end result is the same. You meet someone, you determine that they will make you happy, and you begin putting them on a pedestal.

Now there are certain “levels” of crushes, and they get more and more weird as they progress. Or at least we think they are harmless. Its similar to if you place a frog in warm water, then slowly increase the temperature of the water, the frog will wind up being boiled. Crushes are the same: You don’t know what is hurting you until it is too late. We’ve all heard of the “stage five clinger,” right? Well what about stages one through four? We never hear about these! Allow me to, in both an attempt at info and comedy, list them all right now, again, based off of my own experience.

Stage 1: You think of your crush and feel good. You talk about them in front of others. Hopefully in stage 1 you have at least invited the crush somewhere.
Stage 2: You begin to think of your crush when you listen to love songs (and hopefully these songs motivate you to begin dating them). If you are dating, you “express” your love when you are with your crush: With small gifts, or writing or drawing stuff. This is actually healthy, it means you generally like their company and want more of it.
Stage 3: When you pleasure yourself, you think of your crush. If you watch adult film, you seek out performers who look like your crush. If you are dating, you begin to make long term plans with the crush whether they like you back or not.
Stage 4: You make it a goal to be around your crush as much as possible, even if they may not want the company. This happens whether or not you are dating them.
Stage 5: You make threats to your crush in an attempt to stick around (ex. “If you break up with me/don’t date me, I’ll kill myself!”). This also happens whether or not you are dating them. If you are dating them, you feel like you “own” them now. You demand sex from them even if they don’t want it. You demand that they take the day off their job so you can hang out with them. You buy them stuff and expect them to be happy.

I’ve gotten to stage 5 exactly once in my life, during high school. I nearly got arrested (the grown ass man kind, not juvenile) for harassment. Gee, I wonder why? We could have been good buddies, even to this day. But nope, because I was under the influence of “crush,” I had to fuck everything up. In addition to screwing up a partnership (of any sort) with the person you have a crush on, you also give up several things for the crush, from other romantic opportunities to your current circle of friends, to even job opportunities. This happens especially if you aren’t dating them.

KNOW when you have a crush on someone and address it immediately. Stage 1 and 2 are fine, but get past stage 3 and you’re gonna have problems. I’ll be repeating this towards the end.

What is Crush Culture?

Allow me to define what I mean by this. I have mentioned it before, but that was very brief and today it will be glossed over again. Crush culture is the view that placing potential mates on a pedestal, and making them the source of your happiness is not only a good thing, its the BEST thing to do, the RIGHT thing to do, and in most cases, the ONLY thing to do.

Crush culture screams this message at us, almost daily: How dare you be free and go on fun, carefree dates and have awesome sex with several people a year, with no expectations (which are clearly laid out) for the sake of fun, you slut/manwhore?!?! You need to “settle down!” Don’t you “know what true love is?!” If you are single in your 30s, you are a loser! You don’t want to be a loser, do you?!

If you want to be a part of Crush Culture, high school will never end for you.

Don’t believe me? Turn on the radio. ANY station that plays popular music of some aspect. I will bet real money that within three songs, one of them (at least) will have lyrics about the following:

-A dude talking about how important a chick is in his life and how she is the source of his happiness (or about how he can “impress” her with his possessions etc. That’s part of Crush Culture too)
-A chick talking about the same thing (“you’ll never find a chick as perfect as me, boy”)
-A dude talking about how sad he is now that “his one and only left him”
-A chick talking about how “she is so lonely without him” (or that he “ruined her life”)
-Dudes singing about “evil sluts” and Chicks singing about “evil womanizers.” Yes, slut and manwhore shaming is a part of crush culture.

The music, TV, movie, and even fiction industries and most of its performers (at least 80% of them) has used the concept of judging your own self worth by the reactions of your current (or potential) partners to not only make money hand over fist, but also to write a narrative that not only feels good to follow, but also has, for a long time, become “the law” in dating, sex and relationships. And this “law” is beyond antiquated. Its been holding us back for decades.

It is literally EVERYWHERE. Sex may sell, but crushes sell BETTER. Sex can offend. But crushes are “innocent.” Sex can’t be PG ever no matter how much is covered up. But Crushes can even be G rated.

I’m not anti-marriage, nor am I anti-monogamy. But my concept of monogamy pretty much means we are friends with benefits. I love all my buddies. But its the “I love ya man!!” kind of love (which, to me, is more real) and not the “You complete me” love (which is code for “you are now my property”). I’m already complete. Now I’m just looking for people who want to share the ride. I am against placing your own self esteem in the hands of others. To me its an exercise in futility. There is a VERY good reason why two thirds of marriages end in divorce. Its because of this Crush Culture that has been taking over our lives. We are taking romance way too seriously, and it doesn’t need to be that way anymore.

So now I’ve talked about what crushes are and how they are manufactured into the development of our love lives. But does it really affect people? You’ll be shocked at the answer.

Who crushes affect

Everyone involved. That’s who they affect. You can argue with me as much as you want about this, but if someone’s had a crush on you, you KNOW what I mean. If you have never been someone’s crush, this may be a little disheartening to understand. If I read this in high school, I know would have called me some stupid manwhore in the comments while I continued to rationalize about how much better the cheerleader captain was compared to everyone. If you have a crush on someone, here’s how it affects you:

-You place way more pressure on yourself to please your crush. This leads to you doing some real stupid things and making some real stupid sacrifices just to impress someone who in all probability doesn’t like you back.
-You become “blinded” by lust. I would argue that this is how some sexual assaults happen. “But I love you! We MUST have sex!” You think this doesn’t happen, especially in arenas like high school and college where hormones, emotions, peer pressure AND social programming are running high? Cool. Keep living in your fantasy world. I’d argue that this is a major contributor to rape culture as well.
-Your self esteem is placed entirely in the hands of the one you have a crush on. I would argue that this is how some suicides happen. “I loved them! I can’t live without them, literally!” Again if you think this doesn’t happen in an arena such as high school or college, you are straight up delusional.

When someone has a crush on you and you don’t like them back, it sucks. I remember in freshman year of college, there was a high school freshman who pretty much always hung around me when I was working. She would always ask when I was working. At first I was just annoyed, but when she started crying or shouting at me for not giving her enough attention, I began to get scared.

“But how can you be scared of a 14 year old girl, dude?” Well that one’s easy. I didn’t know what she was capable of! I was 19 and she was 14, can you imagine what would have happened to me if we had sex? Especially if I didn’t want it and would have gotten laughed out of the courtroom when reporting it (a part of rape culture that is unfortunately ignored, that dudes get laughed at when they report rape)? Here’s what I had to deal with when she had the crush on me:

-There was tons of pressure on me to make her happy. I had to choose my actions and words very carefully.
-It added to the stresses of my job at the time and I had to constantly worry about getting in trouble for talking to her and not being productive.
-I felt trapped. There was another chick who was four years older than me who was hitting on me at the same place. I was legitimately interested in her and we liked each other. But because I felt like I was being watched, I couldn’t ask her out.

What to do if you have a crush

-BE AWARE. Realize that you have a crush on someone, and realize that if you don’t take action, this will turn into a toxic relationship.
-Take action. Invite them somewhere as soon as possible. If you start developing feelings for someone who you are not dating, it will, and I mean WILL, take a downward spiral whether you like it or not.
-If you are dating them, realize that they aren’t as perfect as you want them to be. There was something I heard in a youtube video a long time ago that sums this up perfectly: “We don’t fall in love with a person themselves, we usually fall in love with what we want them to be.” This is how nasty breakups and divorces happen. Its usually because there is an imbalance between how one partner feels and how the other feels.
-If you aren’t dating them, or if you can’t date them you have two options. First, do something I call “be greedy, not needy.” You can still talk to them and stuff, but make sure you are also approaching and inviting others as well. There are other, BETTER options for you. I don’t care if you get butthurt reading this. I’ve had to (and thanks to my ego, I still have to) remind myself of this too. Second, if you don’t want to “be greedy, not needy,” and continue to stupidly place the 3 to 5 people a year you are romantically interested in on a pedestal, then great. Keep talking to them, keep agonizing about “if they are thinking about me,” while watching your phone like a hawk for them to text you, and just keep holding yourself back in dating sex and relationships while you continue to empty your emotions into someone who more than likely wouldn’t care if you died tomorrow. Don’t you see? There is no choice.

If you are single, be greedy and not needy with romance. Crush Culture holds everyone back with romance no matter who you are, much more than Hookup Culture ever will.

Embrace Hookup Culture. Fight Crush Culture. This is how we can continue to minimize Rape Culture.

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