The Ultimate Crush Decoder Ring!

I get emails all the time from people who are in the grips of a major crush. The kind of crush that lives up to its name — the sort that squeezes your insides, makes you hyperventilate & always makes you feel like you’re not being very impressive at all. I realised I hadn’t written an article on how to stop a crush from becoming a crash, or how to salvage the wreckage if it does, & with Valentine’s Day coming up, it seemed appropriate! So, here it is — your crush decoder!

Problem: I don’t know how to talk to _______, & oh my god he/she is the cutest thing EVER!

Solution: Talking to people is quite easy but somehow, when we meet the person of our dreams, it’s like our mother tongue is Dork & our second language is Nerd. It can lead to very embarrassing moments. I once had a crush on a comedian that was so all-consuming that whenever we spent time together, I could barely even speak. Needless to say, it didn’t go far.

The trick to talking to people you are nervous about or don’t know is to find some common ground & then start asking questions. Don’t be all Spanish inquisition, & don’t give them the third degree either, just keep it relaxed. The trick with asking people questions is that it gives you more time to admire their mouth while they’re talking. Um, I mean, it gives you a break & allows you to think of something else to ask them! Plus, people loooove to talk about themselves — ask anyone.

The subject matter of the conversation is going to differ depending on the situation. Do you go to school together or work together? That can make life easier — you can talk about classes, teachers, managers, assignments, the people around you. If the object of your affections is a little more random, it can be a little trickier but is not impossible by any stretch of the imagination. If, for example, they work in a shop, ask them to help you find something, & while they do, just start a conversation. You know, usual small-talk stuff — how long have they worked there, do they like it, what are their dreams for the future, etc. If you go to the same cafe, maybe talk to them while you queue up, or ask if they’d like to sit with you. It seems scary but hey — he who dares wins (or something). You have to make the leap of confidence, otherwise you’ll never know!

I would also encourage you to “be yourself”. I know that sometimes when people tell you that it sends you into a blind panic, because all you can think of is your bad passport photo & recent exam scores, but what I really mean is — don’t try to be anyone else. Unless you are comfortable playing the sexy vixen or the suave gentleman, don’t. Just be you — your friendly, off-beat, cheeky self.

Problem: How can I ask _______ out on a date? But not, y’know, a real date, just an excuse to spend some time together.

Solution: This is really a continuation of the question above. So, strike up a conversation, & after you’ve established some rapport, ask if they want to have lunch/a coffee/a drink sometime. Swap numbers. Remember to call. Golden.

Problem: My crush used to act like he/she reciprocated my feelings but now he/she is acting all weird & won’t talk to me!

Solution: First rule of relationships & love: people are weird. Some people seem to change their feelings on a dime & all of a sudden start acting as if you are Queen (or King) of the Lepers. It hurts, of course. Your thoughts start to race. ‘What did I do wrong?!?! What did I say?!? Did I breathe tuna sandwiches on them?!? Did I just morph into a hideous mud-monster?!?’ You know how it goes.

Talk to them about it. Say, “Hey. Things used to be cool between us but now you’re giving me wedgies & torturing my goldfish. What’s going on?” Then they will either tell you (“I just can’t handle your Spice Girls obsession — sorry”) or not (“…”). If they tell you, you can either try to remedy it or tell them to take a flying leap. Spice Girls ‘obsession’ — piffle! & if they don’t tell you or are otherwise difficult, believe me, it is their loss & not yours. Some people are just a bit stinky. I’m sorry you had to find out this way. You can’t crawl inside anyone’s head or make them change their mind, so don’t waste your energy. Stay away from them & find something else to keep you busy for the next little while.

Problem: _____ is obviously my dream lover but they have a boy/girlfriend already. How do I get rid of them?

Solution: Whoah there, soldier! While your dream lover’s lover is obviously a pesky obstacle, dabbling in home-wreckery is not your best laid plan. There are a few reasons for this, like for example, if your dream lover is susceptible to some new person coming along (you), who’s to say that that won’t happen to you six months down the track? But the real reason for not going there is that it will become an ugly mess & if you respect your dream lover — I mean, truly respect them & want what is best for them — you should also respect the relationship they’re in.

Not all relationships are perfect & it is common for one half of the couple to have a whinge from time to time about how so&so doesn’t pick up his socks from the floor or how little miss never does the dishes. However, you’ll be better off if you don’t read into that as some kind of false clue that they want out of the relationship & they consider you their life-raft. They are probably just venting. If you feel evil hooks growing over your hands that give you the urge to tear their relationship asunder & run away to a cave with your dream lover, please, do yourself a favour & back away. This is not a nice side of you!

Problem: My dream lover says he/she wants to leave his/her current relationship & be with me! The delight is palpable! But… I don’t know. Something feels wrong.

Solution: In this scenario, there are a few very probable outcomes.

Number one: The scorned ex-lover will hate you & so will all their friends, co-workers, hairdressers, etc. This can make life difficult if you live in a small town & don’t fancy cutting your hair yourself.

Number two: Since your dream lover will be jumping from one relationship to the next, it will be complicated. I am a firm believer that everyone needs a break between relationships. It’s just a good thing to do — it helps you sort out the emotional bracken, allows you to re-establish who you are & what you want, & gives you a breather. I think being alone is really good for people, since being in a relationship it’s all too easy to be co-dependent & never really learn how strong or capable you are. The other risk when you jump from one relationship to the next is that you get transference of emotion — that’s when your emotions for the last person swap over to the new person. While it might be nice to be instantly in love, it’s not real & it causes problems later when the bliss wears off & you both realise that the person you’re with is not who you expected.

If your dream lover really does want to leave his or her current lover, then of course that’s their choice & their life. But if you actually want things to work out between the two of you long-term, let them know that you would like there to be a significant (i.e., at least a couple of months) break between the ex & you. Explain why & see how they react. Hopefully if they have a brain & some emotional stability they will be cool with this. On the other hand, some people, when you tell them this, will decide you’re too much trouble & not leave their partner. While this sucks at the time, you will look back on it in a few months & be so very grateful. Trust me!

Problem: My dream lover’s lover is so AWFUL! I hate him/her! If only they would go away, my dream lover would be so much happier & capable of so much more! I don’t understand why they don’t just leave!

Solution: People’s problems are their own. Let it go. Move on.

Problem: I think I’m in love with my best friend. HELP!

Solution: Well, this is really up to you. I encourage taking the plunge & telling the truth, something like, “Max, we have been best friends for a long time but things are changing & well, do you mind if I kiss you?” Sure, it might destroy the friendship. But it could also be the best relationship of your life. I think it’s worth the chance.

Problem: I’ve never had a boy/girlfriend before & I don’t know how to kiss!

Solution: You need to enrol in Gala’s Kissing Boot-Camp, toute de suite!

Problem: Where can I take my crush for a cool, interesting date?

Solution: If I was feeling exceptionally twee, I’d say something like “It doesn’t matter where you go if the company’s good”. Which is true, but honestly, that’s not really going to cut it. For a first date, you want to wow them by taking them somewhere spectacular, like talking a stroll along the Nile or going on a week-long safari. Unfortunately, whisking your new potential lover off to see one of the wonders of the world is probably going to have to wait until you are a big-shot entrepreneur, so here are some other ideas.

Go to an amusement park. Eat burritos in the botanical gardens. Hire a canoe. Go out stencilling at night. Attend an art show opening. Go thrift-shopping. Get photobooth pictures. Take circus lessons together. Cook for each other. Browse a used bookstore. Go to the beach. Do a collaborative painting. Dress up. Stage a treasure hunt. Go to the markets. Find the biggest waterslide you can. Bake cupcakes. Explore abandoned places. Go to an audience participation version of the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Sneak into a hotel pool. Play tennis. Pick out plants for each other. Take a yoga class. Ride your bikes somewhere. Have a picnic. Build a fort. Talk. Kiss. Snuggle.