Crushes aren’t just for sixth graders. A crush can happen at any age, and when it does, it can be both exciting and annoying—that burning desire to know how someone truly feels is one of the most alive feelings we can have as humans. Yet crushes can also completely consume our lives and be flat-out annoying. How long does a crush last? As anyone who has had a crush can testify, snapping our fingers and turning those feelings off is not possible. Read on for tips on how to try and eventually get over it.
What is a crush?
Like many things that involve human emotions, crushes can be hard to define. But if anyone has had a crush, they know what it feels like—butterflies in your stomach, unbearable longing, tingles when the person looks at you.
“A good way to help define it is to distinguish it,” said Jaime Bronstein, a psychotherapist and radio talk show host. “There are healthy crushes and there are unhealthy obsessions.”
A healthy crush is when someone intrigues you and you get those butterflies in your stomach. “It just feels really good to be in their presence,” Bronstein said.
Unhealthy obsessions do little to help you or your mental wellbeing—for example, an obsession with a celebrity, an ex or someone dangerous (physically or legally).
Crushes can be healthy and help you figure out what you want or don’t want in a life partner.
“You have all these crushes throughout your life,” Bronstein said, “and even though not everyone is going to be your person, they’re all very informative and all very wonderful in terms of building your ammunition, building credentials, building experiences inside of yourself to know what it feels like when your heart is open.”
How long does a crush last?
A crush can be fleeting—something you experience in a semester at school or on a two-week vacation. Other times, the feelings of a crush can last for life.
Take Bronstein’s parents, for instance. They’ve been married 50 years and completely adore each other.
“They have that ‘it’ factor,” Bronstein said. “My mom gets excited, like she makes sure she looks good when my dad comes home from work, things like that. There is that sense of intrigue and butterflies that they still have.”
In other words, the good parts of a crush don’t have to go away and can go hand-in-hand with love when those feelings are returned. But if you want a crush to end for whatever reason, you need to give it time.
The difference between crush and love
The thing with love is everyone’s experience is so different.
“You’ll never know what it’s like for somebody else to be in love,” Bronstein said. “You just know what it feels like for you to be in love.”
The same can be said for a crush, but the difference between the two is that love means you really, really know somebody.
“I think it takes at least six months—in-person, not long-distance— to say with authority that you know somebody,” Bronstein said. “So that would be when it would turn into a real love.”
To build a relationship into love while keeping the good feelings of a crush going, Bronstein said you need to keep things fresh, whether that means surprising them with a gift or doing something spontaneous, such as a European trip, no matter how long you’ve been together.
“When people have an exciting new experience together, there’s something that happens in the brain that’s exciting and new,” Bronstein said. “New brain waves start forming and enlivens a relationship.”
How to get over a crush
Maybe you’ve confirmed your crush isn’t interested. Or maybe it’s an unhealthy attraction—for instance, you’re already in a monogamous relationship. For every crush that lasts a lifetime, there are many, many more that don’t last as long. How do you know when it’s time to let go of a crush?
“It’s your intuition,” Bronstein said.
That still leaves the question: How long does it take to get over a crush, and how do you go about doing so?
Unfortunately, there are no hard and fast rules, but here are some tips that may help you get over a crush.
Make a pros and cons list
Ask yourself: Do you really have enough information about this person to think you would be a viable long-term match?
Bronstein suggests challenging your feelings by making a pros and cons list.
“If your cons list is more than your pros, and you realize that maybe there’s someone better, then great—be open,” Bronstein said. “It’s important to make that shift in order to move on.”
Decide it’s time to move on
No, letting go of a crush isn’t giving up. If you’ve decided moving on is the best way forward, putting yourself first is always best in this situation.
“Check in with yourself and ask, Is it time to be open to other possibilities?” Bronstein said. “This is about honoring yourself. You don’t have to shut off your feelings because that’s not realistic. It’s impossible. But it is time to open up your heart again to the possibility and the abundance of all the other opportunities that are out there.”
Grieve the loss
Just like breakups and divorces, crushes take time to get over. Giving yourself time to move on from the crush is key, and don’t beat yourself up if it takes longer than you expect.
“It is important to grieve because it is important to feel your feelings,” Bronstein said, adding that if you just push them away, they just stay.
Cut your contact
If you keep finding yourself around your crush—for instance, if you see them on your way to work or on your daily walks around the block—it might be a good idea to go a different route, literally and figuratively.
“If you feel like every time I see this person I end up in a huge depression, then yeah, maybe don’t go,” Bronstein said. “Or is it just reminding me of the love that I can feel in my heart? Then go. So, you have to just decide for yourself.”
Choose to not look at their social media pages
Getting someone out of your thoughts isn’t so easy these days. Their face is likely popping up on all your social media feeds. In that case, it might be time to unfollow your crush, or at least consciously stop creeping their pages.
“I don’t think [blocking them is] necessary,” Bronstein said. “But choosing to not look at their page is an action step.”
Do things for you again
Often, when we have a crush, we do everything possible to get the other person’s attention. Sometimes, that can involve changing who we are and what we do.
No matter how long a crush lasts, return to the things that make you who you are.
“Do things for you again,” Bronstein said, “because so many times people get so focused on that other person that they forget about their own life and what they like to do.”
Think about other crushes you had and how you got over them
Chances are, you’ve gotten over a crush before, so trust that “I’ve done it before I can do it again,” Bronstein said. “Remind yourself that you’re resilient.”
Be gentle with yourself
If you don’t get right back on the saddle after a crush, don’t beat yourself up. Being kind with yourself isn’t just a great practice for getting over a crush, it’s a good way of thinking in general.
“I think people feel like there’s pressure, like, I have to get over this person,” Bronstein said. “Give yourself that time when you are ready to be open to somebody else.”
When you’re ready, make the choice to open yourself up to other opportunities and other crushes. That means doing activities where you can meet other people.
“Don’t let this make you a hermit,” Bronstein said. “You need to consciously be open and to believe that there’s going to be someone else that you will feel the same or more for, and then trust that.”
Give up the illusion of control
Again, a great life lesson that also applies to getting over a crush is to accept the fact that even though things didn’t work out between you, it isn’t a reflection on you.
“It’s knowing inside: ‘You know what, this is not the right relationship,’” Bronstein said. “‘I’m just going to trust that, so I’m going to be open.’”
Not all crushes are good—for instance, an obsession with a supermodel, an ex or a fling out of wedlock. But crushes can also be healthy and help you know what you like and don’t like in a mate.
If you want to get over a crush—you’re asking “how long does a crush last?"—the answer isn’t so simple. It may take time and patience. Be kind with yourself on that journey and open yourself to others. As devastating as saying goodbye to one crush can be, sinking into a new one makes it all worthwhile.
“Not every mutually crushing relationship that begins necessarily [works out],” Bronstein said. “Maybe they aren’t necessarily the right people for each other forever, but every experience is informative and important in your life.”