Today is International Tell Your Crush Day. And despite the fact that I have multiple crushes at the moment, I’m not telling anyone anything.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m all about emotional honesty, romance-related risk-taking and wearing your heart on your sleeve. These are some of the principles I live by. But it’s just not always appropriate to tell someone you have a crush on them. And that’s okay.
Long (2-3 months) ago, when I was 2-3 months younger and 2-3 months less wise, I had a crush on someone who was married. And it gave me tons of grief because I didn’t want to have a crush on someone who was married and I knew that I didn’t want to act on it but was afraid that I would somehow lose all control of my actions and physically act on this crush. So I felt really guilty and got trapped in a spiral of guilt and shame and weirdness. Thanks to a few conversations with folks older and wiser than I, I remembered that I do have control over my actions, and was able to come to terms with the fact that throughout my life, I will have many crushes on many people. All of these crushes are normal and nothing to be ashamed about. There’s nothing I can do to prevent developing a crush on someone, but I can control my actions and not act on these crushes. That’s called being an adult. Heck, I can even ENJOY these crushes. Crushes are fun even if they can’t possibly end in happily-ever-after or making out.
Armed with this wisdom, present-day Janney attacks International Tell Your Crush Day with the same gusto she attacks holidays like St. Patrick’s Day, Veteran’s Day, and Boxing Day. That is, with no gusto at all. That’s because I don’t have many crushes at the moment that it makes sense for me to tell. That’s just where I am on this day in my life. Ten years ago, that would have been a different story. Ten months ago this was a different story. But right now, no benefit can be gained by telling one of my crushes that I have a crush on them. This isn’t me being a short-sighted chicken. This is me being a grown-ass woman.
Let me walk you through this.
Situations when it is appropriate to tell someone you have a crush on them:
1. The Sitch: “Matthew McConaughey” has been your friend for years. You have a great time together. Both of you are recently single, and somewhere along the way you realized you had feelings for him.
The Read: Tell him! It’s better to get those feelings out in the open and take the risk of temporarily making a friendship awkward, than to spend the rest of your life not really being involved in your own relationships because you have a crush on your good friend!
2. The Sitch: “Taylor Swift” is friends with one of your friends. You met at a party and had a great time shooting the breeze. You’d like to hang out with her more.
The Read: Tell her! The worst that can happen is getting rejected. If this happens, just avoid her until you develop a crush on someone else!
3. The Sitch: But not all crushes are romantic! The teacher of your favorite gym class kicks so much butt and you want to be just like her! You have a total friend crush!
The Read: Say “I have a friend-crush on you! My roommates and I are having game night on Friday! Want to come?”
In all of these situations, it is appropriate to tell the object of your crush that you are crushin’ (to use a term from early 2000s teen magazines). Now the flip side of the coin.
Situations Where it Is Not Appropriate to Tell Your Crush:
1. The Sitch: Your friend’s boyfriend is really nice to you! You have a crush on him but don’t want to act on it. You just want to find someone like him to date.
The Read: Don’t tell him. It might make him feel weird even if you don’t intend for anything to happen, and know that your friend doesn’t care. Just enjoy having a crush!
2. The Sitch: You are on a competitive ping pong team. You have a crush on one of your teammates, who is on the team with her husband. (I’m trying not to be hetero-normative here). As a team you travel a lot and must spend time in close quarters.
The Read: No. What’s going to happen if she reciprocates? She’s going to leave her husband for you? Do you really want that? You’ll both have to quit the ping pong team! Or you’ll just make everyone on your team feel weird. Enjoy your crush but keep it to yourself, or your other friend on the ping pong team who can help you normalize it. That being said, if they ask you to “guest star” at their “doubles match,” why not? (Someone’s been listening to a little too much of Dan Savage’s podcast).
3. The Sitch: The woman down the street from you has the best garden ever. You want to follow her around and sit at her knee and learn about her gardening tips! Total hero crush!
The Read: This one is tricky. You can’t really be like “I have a crush on you!” because she might think you want to make out with her, when all you really want to do is help her water her plants (not a euphemism). You can tell her you like her garden and ask her for gardening advice and write her a gracious thank-you note when she gives you bulbs or clippings.
So basically, I can tell my barista crush that I have a crush on him, but I can’t tell every single hunky dad in Martin Acres that I have a crush on them.
Of course rules are meant to be broken and there are exceptions to every rule. Sometimes all is fair in love and war but mostly it isn’t actually fair at all. Sometimes it’s appropriate to wear your heart on your sleeve and other times it’s appropriate to button your lip. Ultimately use your judgement about what will cause minimal harm to yourself and others. Enjoy your crushes, even if you know that you can’t or don’t want to act on them! Having crushes on people is part of what makes this wild and wacky world so wonderful!
Happy International Tell or Don’t Tell Your Crush Day to you and yours.