Crushes can be hard, guys. Whether you keep yourself at a distance or see them every day, having a crush (and all the thinking that comes with it) can take up all of your time. Then there are the physical problems that come with fancying someone: you feel butterflies in your stomach, your hands get sweaty, your mouth gets dry, and your brain doesn’t seem to work as quickly as it normally does.
I thought the burning crushes I would get as a teenager would stop happening when I grew older, but I was wrong. These days, I fancy people just a strongly as I did a decade ago. The main difference between my crushes back then and now? At 25, I like myself a lot better than I did when I was 15.
It’s easy to forget a crush isn’t just about the person you fancy – it’s also about you. Crushes suddenly make you overanalyse everything about yourself: the way you look, what you say, and most of all, the things you like. When I was a teenager, I’d heard that opposites attract but I wasn’t convinced. Instead, I was certain that I needed to have loads of things in common with the people I fancied if I wanted them to take any notice. The problem was, I was convinced I wasn’t interesting enough, and that the things I liked were weird or silly or childish or (worst of all) ‘girly’.
As an only child who went to a girls’ school, teenage boys were alien creatures to me. They were louder than I was used to, with weird habits and interests in things I had never even heard of. How was I supposed to get one to fall in love with me if I we had nothing in common? Easy: I could lie.
Lying about my interests to impress boys is something I’m not proud of, but it’s something I used to do often – even with guys I didn’t even have a crush on. Growing up, men always seemed to be into such cool things, like sports and games and activities, while I was mostly just obsessed with books. So I started fudging the truth, pretending I had an interest in topics they would talk about all the time… then heading to the library computer after school and cramming in as much research as I could before the next time I saw them, and could impress them with everything Wikipedia had taught me.
Over the years, the list of things I pretended to like to impress boys grew and grew. One of the earliest times I think I ever lied to a boy was in Year 6, when I claimed I also supported Chelsea FC. The reality? I had barely watched any football, and the only team I could name was Crystal Palace (because I liked the word ‘crystal’).
Then there was the time I said I loved the same niche X-Men comics a boy I liked was obsessed with, when really I didn’t even know where you could buy comic books. In secondary school a friend of mine would give me Green Day CDs that I hated for my birthday every year, all because she overheard me telling a boy they were my favourite band. As I got a bit older, the lies were smaller but a bit more frequent. I was intimidated when I first got to my fancy university, so spent a lot of my time pretending I had read books or watched films I had never even heard of.
For the most part, most of my lies have had happy endings. Pretending to support Chelsea opened the door for a genuine, life-long love of football, when I finally got my hands on some comics I thought they were great, and I still smile when I hear Green Day and remember why I first listened to them. But nowadays, I never lie about the things I like – and neither should you.
Crushing on someone is exhausting enough without needing to keep up with a list of fake interests. Also we’ve all fancied awesome people, but no-one is worth lying about yourself for – I promise that you’re interesting enough without adding a few extras.
And most importantly? Everything you like and dislike is valid. Maybe some of my interests have been weird and silly and childish and very, very girly, but who cares? I liked them anyway. ‘Just be yourself’ is a cliché but it’s true, because there’s only one of you and you’re the coolest version of yourself that exists.
It’s also worth remembering that lying about your interests to impress someone you fancy means you could get stuck with someone who doesn’t like any of the things you like. And how boring would that be?