Three years ago, while at a two-day conference for work, I sat next to a pretty girl from Portland, OR. It wasn’t until near the end of our second day there that we struck up a conversation and I found her to be incredibly sweet and interesting; within no time I was feeling that excitement build, the same thing that happens with a romantic crush — so thrilled, in this case, to have made a friend.
After the conference ended, but before our respective flights, we decided to get some snacks and drinks nearby. After several hours of good conversation, we took a cab to the airport together and — despite needing to be in separate terminals — we found a spot near her gate to grab dinner.
I put my number in her phone, she put her number in mine. As we parted ways with an enthusiastic hug, I felt so giddy having connected so quickly with someone — a rare occurrence for an introvert like me. (Making friends is really hard when you spend most of your time at home, it turns out.)
I got settled on the plane and pulled out my phone to send her a brief text, to wish her a safe flight and thank her for being such good company, only to find her number wasn’t there.
Did she forget to click “save” when she entered her phone number? Did she purposefully not put in her number and I just misread all these signs of blossoming friendship? I know I saved mine in her phone — perhaps she would message me?
Three years later, she never has and I still don’t know what happened. Is this was it feels like to be ghosted after a date?
Girl crushes with “real” people are, without question, a bit more emotionally fraught and challenging to navigate because there really is some potential to develop a friendship — and also have your platonic-heart broken.
It’s far safer to crush on celebrities, I say. Currently, for me, it’s all about (Goddess Incarnate) Jessica Chastain, who — aside from being a stunner and Meryl Streep-level actor — loves animals, practices what she preaches, and her Manhattan apartment is to die for. (The fact that she owns decor items once belonging to Lauren Bacall — my sister’s and my earliest girl crush — really solidified our love for her.)
My feelings can easily be summed up as admiration, topped by a twinge of envy — essential components of a good girl crush, wouldn’t you agree?
YouTuber Jenna Marbles kinda nails it when she sums up the “three tiers of girl crushes” straight women commonly have:
First level girl crush is, “I love you” like “I wanna be your best friend.” […]
Second tier girl crush is “I love you a lot” kinda like “I wanna be you.” […]
And the third level of girl crush is “Given the right circumstances, I would make a scissor sandwich with you.”
I’m a solid Tier 1 in my love for Jessica, possibly because I tend to fantasize more about having cool, rich, awesome friends than I do about being cool, rich, and awesome myself. It’s certainly not for lack of wanting to be those things, but rather that I value good, strong female friendships above almost anything else — and who would say no to a few extra perks?
Sure, being Oprah sounds super exciting, but goodness, wouldn’t you rather be Gale — all the benefits but only a fraction of the stress? I know I would!
The New York Times also had an article about the “girl crush” way back in 2005, though even then it was certainly “not a new phenomenon”:
[A] girl crush [is] a phrase that many women in their 20’s and 30’s use in conversation, post on blogs and read in magazines. It refers to that fervent infatuation that one heterosexual woman develops for another woman who may seem impossibly sophisticated, gifted, beautiful or accomplished. And while a girl crush is, by its informal definition, not sexual in nature, the feelings that it triggers — excitement, nervousness, a sense of novelty — are very much like those that accompany a new romance.
In the same NYT article, Helen Fisher, an anthropologist and author of Why We Love: The Nature and Chemistry of Romantic Love, says:
As I navigate an adulthood where making friends has proven so much more difficult than I could have anticipated it would be while I was still in school, girl crushes have become more prevalent in my day-to-day life — with people I meet or already know — than it ever was before. And since I am happily married and haven’t had a crush on a man in over 8 years, those feelings seem to have funneled exclusively towards women with whom I would just love to be friends.
The brain system for romantic love is associated with intense energy, focused energy, obsessive things — a host of characteristics that you can feel not just toward a mating sweetheart. […] There’s every reason to think that girls can fall in love with other girls without feeling sexual towards them, without the intention to marry them.
Some girls are just so cool, you know?
For now, I’ll focus on the talented, intelligent, beautiful celebrities I’m feeling smitten for these days, who will never have an opportunity to ghost me after a conference in Vegas.