Putting your dedication to the test
In addition to being a vital element of adolescent sexual development, crushes occur regularly in adulthood as well. Crushes are more common among adults who are in committed relationships. Adult crushes allow us to assess the strength of our connection to our spouse. According to Lucia O’Sullivan, a psychologist at the University of New Brunswick (Canada), and her colleagues, crushes are not limited to adolescence. Crushes can happen to adults of any age, even when they’re in a serious relationship and entirely devoted to their partner, rather than just children.
According to O’Sullivan and colleagues, a crush is defined as a one-sided attraction to another person that the experiencer has no intention of speaking about or acting on as a result of. Crushes are distinguishable from other types of romantic attraction, such as mutual infatuation or attachment, in this manner.
What the evidence tells us
Studies have indicated that crushes are fairly widespread among adolescents, according to the findings of previous studies. It is common for teenagers to experience initial crushes before they begin dating or entering into their first love relationship. Consequently, psychological studies have shown that crushing is a precursor to the development of intimate abilities. As a result, youths frequently experience their first romantic sentiments as crushes since they are unsure of how to act on their emotions.
At the same hand, a plethora of studies has demonstrated that even adults in committed relationships are susceptible to feelings of attraction toward people other than their partner. In other words, they may have fantasies about being with someone else even though they have chosen to remain with their partner, whom they still genuinely like. They may also flirt with their crush on a casual basis, even if they have no intention of taking things farther than that.
Crushes are common among adults who are in committed relationships.
O’Sullivan and colleagues investigated three research topics in a study that was just published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. The questions were:
What are the differences in the experiences of crushes between single and married people?
When people have crushes on someone, what are the positive and negative results that they experience as a result?
When it comes to the possibility of building an intimate relationship with a crush, what expectations do people have?
The Importance of Relationships
In response to the first question, the researchers discovered that persons who were in committed relationships reported significantly more crushes than those who were not. At first look, this may appear to be a surprising discovery, but upon closer examination, it becomes clear why.
In contrast to those who remain in the unrequited stage of their relationships, singles are more likely to take action on their feelings for others. Coupled individuals, on the other hand, are still attracted to other people, but they are reluctant to disclose their feelings for the sake of their relationship. Additionally, people in committed relationships are more likely to engage in casual flirtation with their crush, but single people are more likely to express their sentiments to the person they are drawn to directly.
The second question is as follows:
Regarding the second question, the majority of respondents stated that their crushes had resulted in beneficial outcomes. Having a crush offered them something to fantasize about, which brightened their day and added a sense of adventure to their lives.
Some people have even stated that having a crush has helped to deepen their relationship. In other words, their romantic ideas made them feel sexy, which they then expressed to their spouse through physical acts. Furthermore, they considered that the increased arousal resulted in a more enjoyable sexual experience for both of them.
The majority of the negative consequences were associated with guilt for having a crush on someone. Some people expressed anxiety that their crush would tempt them to cheat on their partner. Others simply felt horrible about keeping their crush a secret from their spouse, who they believed would become envious or wounded if they told him or her about their feelings.
The third question is as follows:
In response to the third question, the researchers discovered that only a small percentage of persons in committed partnerships had any intention of going after their crush. We’re raised to believe that we should only have eyes for our partner, and when we discover that we’re attracted to someone else, we’re concerned or feel guilty about our actions.
In truth, though, it is simply in our nature to be sexually attracted to other people, and this does not cease just because we have made a commitment to forsake all others. It is possible that framing the attraction as a crush is a method that people adopt to maintain their existing relationships. In other words, the individual acknowledges that they are experiencing strong feelings of desire toward someone other than their partner, but they also recognize that they will never act on those feelings because they cherish their relationship.
What is the point of having crushes in the first place?
So, why do we get crushes in the first place? Post-pubescent youths, who are still naive about their sexuality, are likely to have crushes as a first step in learning how to communicate intimately with others. Crushes in sexually active adults, on the other hand, are less evident in their purpose.
There are two options presented by O’Sullivan and colleagues. One possibility is that crushing is simply encoded into our sexual chemistry and is not something we can control. Although feelings of attraction motivate us to contact possible partners, we can become drawn to persons with whom we would never be able to form a relationship. This could be due to prior obligations in a relationship or other factors that prevent us from pursuing a connection with that individual.
Another idea is that crushes serve as a litmus test for the current strength of our relationship. We know that our commitment to our partner is strong if we are able to keep the attraction a private experience. On the other side, if we are able to keep the attraction a private experience, we know that our commitment to our partner is strong. As a result, acting out fantasies with our spouse may aid in reducing our desire for another person while simultaneously strengthening the bonds of our relationship.
Crushing is a very regular occurrence
The opposite is true if we find ourselves acting on our desire and confessing our feelings to our crush, which indicates that there is trouble in our relationship. Despite what the findings of this study suggest, simple desire is rarely enough to motivate someone to commit adultery. A person’s willingness to cheat on their partner is not solely determined by their want to be with another attractive person; rather, it is also determined by their level of discontent with their existing romantic relationship.
Many young adults keep a “back-burner” relationship in case things go wrong with their present partner, according to O’Sullivan and colleagues. In this case, crushing could be one method by which people evaluate the quality of a potential future companion.
In conclusion, crushes are a widespread occurrence that affects not only youth but even adults, particularly those who are in committed relationships. According to the findings of the current study, crushes are mostly harmless, as they can help to relieve boredom and even liven up a couple’s sex life. Instead of feeling guilty about our crushes, we should recognize that they demonstrate our level of commitment to our spouses… Otherwise, we’d be following that other person instead of keeping our fantasies at a purely imaginary level.