Oh, the crush. It's an integral part of growing up, right? I can remember every major crush I had from elementary on up. As I've thought about each one and even read over some of my old diaries, I've noticed something rather interesting about my crushes.
For the longest time, I had crushes on boys I barely even knew. There was the beautiful older brother of my close friend, the cute boy who played trombone in band. I can't forget the totally hot guy in my 6th grade art class, with his long hair and upper lip mole. He was disgustingly hot. Too hot, and he knew it. Then came my streak of gorgeous older boys at church. I always crushed on the older guys. Sheesh.
Have you noticed yet that there's one theme?
Yeah...they were all "hot," however my teenage mind determined that. At the time, I remember being madly "in love" with these guys. I would watch them, more like stare at them anytime I had the chance. I would daydream about them talking to me, of the day they would finally notice my undying love and ask me out. I didn't know a single real thing about these guys outside of the obvious, and yet they were all my little hormonal mind could think about.
Because, really, that's what a crush is for a girl. It's the easier, less controversial way to say, "Every time I see that boy I want to do things I shouldn't be thinking about." Like kissing. Oh, the scandal.
(Side note: This is also why it kind of pisses me off when people rag on books where the girl is only attracted to the guy because he's hot. Please, let's remember that oftentimes that is completely realistic, even if it's not ideal. The "get to know you" sometimes comes after. Chill out.)
This went on a lot longer than you'd think, too, but I think it was supposed to be like that. These boys were unattainable to me, which meant they were a safe way to act out my raging emotions. Deep down, I knew these guys would never actually notice me, and I don't know what I would have done if they did. I probably would have been scared, because I wasn't ready for a real relationship. I was only ready to imagine myself in one. A really twisted, fantastical version of a real relationship, mind you.
But I did change. I did grow out of crushing on the hot boy. It happened in 11th grade. It happened when I met Ty. (Not his real name—I'm not stupid enough to completely embarrass myself. Just mostly embarrass.)
Ty was just a boy to me for a while. A friend. I'd always had boy friends. They were a different kind of safe boy—the ones I couldn't be attracted to. Like my younger brother's buddies, who I often played video games with. Or the not-so-cute boys I did school projects with. Or the ones with girlfriends, so I didn't have to worry about where it was going.
Ty was one such guy. He was in one of my classes. I worked with him during some extracurricular activities. He was short and funny and just plain normal. I liked being around him, but not in that way. I still had my wild, ridiculous crush thing going on.
After knowing him for almost a year, there was a dance coming up that I decided I did not want to miss. I also knew I wouldn't get asked, since there was only like two weeks until it happened and everyone had dates already.
But Ty didn't. I knew that. So when I sat next to him in class, I said, "I've decided that you're taking me to the dance."
He blinked a few times, then laughed. "Way to ruin the surprise."
I smiled. So he was planning to take me? This little flutter shot through me. I hadn't been to many dances...okay, I'd been to ONE. It was the Valentine's Dance my sophomore year, with a guy I didn't really like. Let's just say awkward isn't a strong enough word. This was different—I liked being around Ty, and this kind of proved he liked being around me. Maybe not in that way, but it was the first time I looked forward to a date. I knew it wouldn't be weird. It would be fun. Ty and I always had fun together.
And it was fun! We grouped with his best friend and date. I liked how it wasn't a big group—here in Utah the group dates can get crazy. We went out to eat and made fun of the "popular" kids we saw there. At the dance, we goofed off. Slow dancing wasn't weird, it was just nice. I knew Ty wasn't one of those guys who'd try to be skeevy. Even the whole picture thing was a laugh. It's still my favorite dance picture. At the door, he hugged me goodnight, and that was the end of it.
Then stuff got...weird. Ty didn't talk to me much for like three weeks after that. I didn't understand, but it was almost like he was trying to make sure I knew we weren't a couple or anything. I was so mad. I didn't expect to be a couple! I didn't expect anything, really. I just wanted things to be like they were before. I wanted my friend back. I missed him.
Which was when it hit me. I did like him. And more than just friend like.
This revelation scared the crap out of me. I didn't want to confirm his apparent fears. I didn't want to change things. I had no idea what to do with myself, with what I felt.
Ty and I stayed friends. I continued to "secretly" like him, though I often wonder if it was completely obvious. Sometimes it was perfectly normal. But the awkwardness crept in here and there, whenever the line between friend and more blurred just a little. Then it would be back to silence and distance until it was clear nothing would happen.
He was the first guy I can honestly say I loved. I didn't just think he was hot (though he was so cute). I knew him. I'd spent time with him. We got along, and we had a lot of fun together. Even if it wasn't a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship, it was a real relationship.
Nothing ever happened with Ty, at least not in the romantic sense. We stayed friends. I loved him. I kept as quiet as I could about it.
Looking back, though, I don't regret a minute of it. Loving my friend was as much part of my adolescence as all those silly crushes. It taught me what a relationship was supposed to be, showed me that caring about someone was so much more than being attracted to them.
And, go figure, I married my best friend. He's still my best friend. Sometimes I wonder if I would have looked over Nick had I not known Ty, had I not learned what to look for when I did finally find someone to be with.
Dang, you write the best posts! This is beautiful, and so true. My first crushes were all about image, whether it was looks alone, or the whole package I'd made up of the strong, silent type or the goofy, adorable type. Boys were types to me at first. And then came the serious crushes, and the real relationships. These are all incredibly useful things to keep in mind while writing teen romance. It's real, not cliche.ReplyDelete
Thanks for the awesome post, Natalie!
Love this post. The awkward dance dates, the easy-going friend date, the friend you want to be more than a friend. Been there, done that. Guys always seem to find a way to make things more complicated. Or maybe just us girls think that they do.ReplyDelete
Awesome look at what really happens in life. And I love your end to it all :)
I had a friend and a story like this too. I ran into mine a couple of years back at a book signing at the library and we made stupid jokes for hours while we stood in line. Awesome memories, and I'm glad I have them, but I'm also glad that's all they are because we both have fantastic marriages now.ReplyDelete
Thank you for sharing the story ^_^
I think I'm a strange apple, because these things never happened to me until I was, what, 18 ? Yeah. I laughed at my friend's crush, supported them, but never actually lived it myself.ReplyDelete
Still, this is a touching story, Natalie. I love your posts. :)
Great post! I was painfully shy in high school and could never find the right guy so I didn't have boyfriend until right after HS graduation. My first boyfriend was someone I had been friends with before, and my husband is also someone I was friends with before we started dating. I liked the fact that we were friends before we got romantically involved because we had a foundation already. :)ReplyDelete
I'm glad you and Ty were able to stay friends and you found a happy ending!
Claudie, I don't think that's weird! I think we all have our own timelines. I didn't have a boyfriend until I was almost 20! And even then it sometimes felt too soon.ReplyDelete
A lovely little musing on time, being vulnerable not merely to others but to one's sense of self during that OMG I'm ME! period known as adolescence, and change. I'm definitely reading your books when (not "if") you get published.ReplyDelete
Oh, that's interesting. I was always into "nice" guys who were somewhat cute. I knew I'd never get the super hot guys, so my brain wouldn't even go there.ReplyDelete
I love this post! You have such a way with words and this definitely took me back to high school and all the unattainable crushes. Thanks for sharing. :)ReplyDelete
This is an awesome post. My daughter is reaching the age where she is starting to get her first crushes and I am remembering mine. :)ReplyDelete
Such a sweet post -- proof that sometimes there really is a "happy ending" out there, even if it's not the one you imagine at first :)ReplyDelete
Oh, didn't we all of the friend crush at one point? My friend was the uber hot and smexy guy all the girls wanted. But I crushed on him b/c I really enjoyed hanging out with him. Secretly, I think he knew I liked him. He spent one class poking and squeezing my thigh, which is funny since I was such a prude, and I found inappropriate and exhilerating all at once. To this day that memory still makes me smile.ReplyDelete
Oop I meant didn't we all *have* the friend crush.ReplyDelete
This proves you deserve to be a YA author, you get us! You remember what it's like! I just got out of that 'category' technically, but I remember my first real guy-friend crushes... first one was a player (had a crush on another friend of ours and me), second one was cute but kinda eww, third turned out to be gay...still lookin'! But it is nice to know they can intersect sometimes so real relationships can happen. This was awesome to read and I sincerely thank you for posting about your experiences!ReplyDelete
What a great post! I love the way you described your feelings for Ty. I remember my teenage crushes; they were usually on teen pop idols. I think it was easier to like the celebrities because I didn't actually have to do anything about it. I could just admire them from afar.ReplyDelete
I am beyond glad that I recently found your blog! Amen to this post!ReplyDelete
And you're totally right, I've been critical of the "looks only" thing in teen lit, but you know, it's really accurate. I had plenty of crushes on boys I didn't really know... and seeing them now on facebook? WOW. So glad my dreams didn't come true! The nice, friends are the ones to marry :)
I love this post! It was *so* much easier to crush on the hottie from a far than actually fall for a guy you could talk to! I had a ton of looks-only crushes in high school, b/c I was painfully shy. Boys literally scared me. Thank goodness I grew out of that eventually! Now sometimes I find it easier to strike up conversations with men than w/ women, b/c (for the most part) men are much less judgmental.ReplyDelete
Oh yes, my first crushes (even into high school) were about what they looked like. I never even talked to most of them :P I did talk to my primary school crush, as he introduced me to Nirvana and revolutionised my musical life :DReplyDelete
This was a funny post. I enjoyed reading it, although I am wondering how Ty's life turned out...ReplyDelete
Apparently your post scared away any other guys, but this is one of the best posts I have read in a long time. It was both funny and interesting, especially when comparing my adolescent 'crush' experiences with yours.ReplyDelete
ah, you had me going all "aww.." reading your post! you are such a great writer! i love especially the part with Ty. there might not be any result coming from it, but it was nonetheless what make us understand that sometimes, it is what we didn't realize that was important to us. it definitely help us grow!ReplyDelete
Ah, that was great. And sweet. I love your blog posts about your life. I think I was a little like you--crushing on the impossible because it was safe. Also, crushing on the impossible gave me a lot of time to invent romances in my head so that one day I could write them down.ReplyDelete
Ty missed out!ReplyDelete
What a wonderful post! I had the biggest crush on a *hot* football player when I was in high school even though I probably talked to him (maybe) once, by accident, when we were on the same team in gym class. If he had talked to me for real, I probably would have spazzed.ReplyDelete
love this. i was always pining for unrequited love through my teen and college years. it was one of the few things i *knew* i wanted to write for Silver Phoenix!ReplyDelete
Wow, this was so me in junior high and high school! Up until 10th grade, I crushed on guys I barely knew too (more often than not, the super popular ones that every girl crushed on, LOL). Until youth group, when I crushed on my one friend for YEARS. I mean, like partially through college too, even partially when I first started dating my first and only boyfriend-now-husband. :PReplyDelete
Nothing ever happened there either, although I found out later that he'd harbored some mutual feeling for me but was too nervous to say anything. And then he started acting really weird right around the time I got engaged. Hello, you lost your chance! LOL. Oh well. :P I'm actually glad now nothing ever happened because if it did, I probably wouldn't have met my best friend and husband.