What ever happened to crushing on someone? There’s lust and then there’s love, but what do you call the empty space in between that? I want to make a case for bringing back crushes: that innocent kind of attraction where you may not want something serious, but you’re sure as hell not looking to just smash and pass.

The word "crush" may bring up some middle and high school memories; it’s not a word that young adults would use to describe romance or attraction. But crushing represents a simpler point in our lives, and a simpler kind of love. College students seem to function within a few set romantic and sexual norms: the committed long–term relationships, the strictly single, or the single with one or many casual sex partners. And while these are all fulfilling in their own way, there's still something limiting about all of them. For many of us, long–term relationships aren't feasible, casual sex can feel empty if you seek emotional attachment and sometimes being single can just get lonely. 

That's where the concept of a crush comes in. A crush is a never–ending honeymoon period; it's over before it has the chance to get serious or turn sour. A crush stays light–hearted. It doesn’t carry the emotional weight and depth you may feel with someone you want to be a long–term partner, but it isn’t driven by short–term lust that you may feel towards a casual sex partner. Crushes are driven by a fixation on a small part of a person’s being. They make you excited, just not necessarily excited enough to take any action.

If it’s not sex or a long–term relationship, what do you do with a crush? At its root, a crush involves a genuine interest in someone’s personality. A crush is there to be a friend, someone who can hang. Some may call it a fling, but the origins of a fling can be less calculated than a crush. If you’re crushing on someone, you’re making an effort to get to know them—you’re a friend first. Text message banter, spontaneous afternoon plans and inside jokes are what make a crush so exhilarating.

A crush can end in different ways — clean or messy, evolving or devolving — but its innocent roots remain. That's the beauty of a crush: it's spontaneous and youthful. It's a reminder of our better nature. Let's bring it back.