Crushes can be hard. We tend to blow things up in our minds, and we get fixated on every little thing they say – never 100% sure if they meant it the way we took it, or if they meant something else entirely. (Although, of course, that’s true with any interaction with another person – their words aren’t necessarily their true intentions.)
Having your first crush on someone who’s the same gender as you can be even harder. Not only are you dealing with the “normal”, everyday crush stuff, but you also might be struggling with your sexuality. Many people have been conditioned to reject their sexuality if it doesn’t fall within the “acceptable heterosexual range”, even if those exact words are never used. Truly, there’s something that just sets most people off… Even if we’ve been raised in a loving, supportive family.
No matter which type of home you come from, and regardless of whether you’re still living there or not, navigating those treacherous first-timer problems can be difficult, if not impossible, unless you’ve got a strong support system. Don’t worry – we’ve got you covered. (And, if you do need additional help, you’re always welcome to write in and let us know the situation – we’ll do our best to figure it out together.)
Read on to learn how to deal, with as little pain as possible.
Try to understand the crush.
Not all crushes are created equal, and if it’s your first time being into a girl, it might not necessarily mean anything. Sometimes, we can mistake our adoration for our friends as something more, particularly if our love life is lacking. (Personally, I think this is the most common cause of the Bestie Crush, but I have no information to back this up, besides personal experience.) Have you been friends with this person for a long time, or do they embody the traits you wish you had yourself?
In most cases, the people we develop crushes for have some quality that we feel we are lacking. If you meet someone who’s adventurous and brave, while you’re meek and shy, you’ll probably be drawn to them a little more. Likewise, outgoing and adventurous people are often drawn to people who are soft-spoken and introverted. This type of balance is necessary in life, but if that’s the only thing drawing you in, it might not be the greatest idea to act on the crush.
In other cases, we develop crushes on people who remind us of our “preferred” parent – so those who were raised by a strong mother figure may be more inclined to be attracted to another strong female figure. It’s a little creepy to think of your romantic life this way, so let’s frame it differently: We want to find a partner who reminds us of the best parts of our lives. Since our parents are often what makes or breaks our childhood, it makes a lot of sense to lean toward someone who gives us similar feelings and experiences.
Neither of these necessarily mean you have any coming out to do, though – sometimes, a crush really is just a crush. It’s not worth the risk of potentially alienating your family and friends if you’re not totally sure that you’re really into women. If there’s a chance that it might be something more, I recommend doing a little more “research” before you make any label decisions.
Decide if you want (or need) to act on the crush.
Since we’ve already established that sometimes a crush is just a crush, it makes sense that not every crush needs to be acted on. If you think that exploring the crush in greater detail will help you figure things out, great – but keep in mind that your feelings don’t come with obligations for her. You can’t really convince someone to be into you if they’re not, and if that’s your intention, you need to stop, for your own sake. Trust me – pining for someone who has no interest in you is just heartbreaking, and actually preventable.
In some cases, though, exploring the crush a little deeper can run the risk of major heartbreak, and a potential loss of the friendship. (We all hope we’ll be the exceptions, of course, but you’re setting yourself up for disappointment if you think you can will it to work out. You can’t.) Crushes on coworkers who have openly identified as straight, for example, are a potential for high-risk, as are crushes on your lifelong best friend.
We talk a lot here about how you can’t stay friends with someone you’re in love with – but this is where it’s important to remember that a crush is definitely not love. Having a crush on someone you see every day is going to be hard, but in time, you might be able to work around your feelings and find a solution that doesn’t involve the embarrassment of putting yourself out there. It should be noted that you probably don’t want to skip every chance, but sometimes, it really is best to back down.
Decide how you will act on the crush.
If you’ve decided that you’re going to bring it up to the other person, there’s not really a specific protocol to use – it’s just a matter of finding the courage to say something. In my personal experience, texting (while totally impersonal and lacking in nonverbal cues) is often the easiest route to take. You have time to proofread everything and make sure it sounds the way you want it to, and you have time to decide if you really want to do this. You can even save it as a draft and come back to it tomorrow if you want!
But, as mentioned, texting is super impersonal, and you might not even have the number of the person you’re trying to text. It can take just as much courage to ask them for their number, knowing full-well that you plan to text them about your crush on them, as if you just asked them out in the first place. In these situations, a hand-written note can go a long way – while still maintaining the leverage of being able to “sleep on it” until you’re fully ready.
For the more outgoing among us, coming right out and telling her is probably the easiest way to handle it. After all, why waste time adding extra steps for yourself if you don’t have to?
Be clear about your situation.
It’s normal for people to keep some portion of their sexual and romantic lives to themselves, so it might be necessary to clear up any confusion. If this will be your first time with a woman, let her know. If you’ve hooked up with women before but never had a crush on one, let her know that, too. You don’t have to divulge every detail of your life, but you should be willing to let her know the basics as they pertain to her.
What if you’re not clear about your situation, exactly? Well, that’s not necessarily a problem… As long as you let the woman know that you’re a bit confused at the moment. Most women fear the idea of being played, and if you’re not honest about your intentions, you are playing her. Many women are open to the idea of experimentation, as long as the person on the other side of the scenario is honest about it. Make sure you’re not misrepresenting yourself to get your way!
Be okay with the outcome.
No matter what happens when you tell your crush how you feel (if you tell her how you feel), you need to hold your head high and be confident in your decision to speak out. In some cases, your crush will respond with the same feelings you have – go for it! But, in other cases, she might shoot you down. Even less likely is the chance of her completely destroying you with the information you give her. We all hope that won’t be the case – and I promise I’m rooting for you! – but having someone out you before you’re ready to be out is a horrible feeling, one that I wouldn’t wish on anyone.
The easiest way to disarm someone’s ability to out you is, of course, to come out on your own – but I don’t recommend rushing to any labels before you’ve had a chance to explore your feelings in depth. As wonderful of a feeling as coming out can be, it can also be devastating, depending on your own particular situation. Likewise, if you live with conservative family members or you live somewhere that discrimination hasn’t been decriminalized yet, coming out should definitely be saved until you’re certain that the benefits will outweigh the risks. The risks will never truly go away, of course, but approaching them from a position of clarity will make it easier to stand your ground now.
Now that we’ve covered the potential harm, let’s discuss the potential benefits of letting your crush know how you feel. First, you’ll have the relief of getting a “secret” off your chest. Secrets aren’t good for your mental health, and too many secrets can cause serious long-term problems. Second, she may feel exactly the same way, and you can explore your newfound attraction together. She might turn out to be the love of your life – I’ve known some women whose first relationship with another woman was one of their longest! Lastly, you might have the chance to clarify your feelings and determine whether the crush was a fluke or if you really are into women. Sure, you might find out that it was a one-time thing, and that’s okay. There’s a reason experimentation is so common.
Don’t give up after the first woman.
So what if this first girl crush didn’t result in any clarity, any steamy sex, or even so much as a smile-and-blush? Believe it or not, that’s okay, too. If it’s something that still weighs on your mind, there’s never a deadline to explore it. It’s unlikely that your first crush is going to be “the one” anyway, and trying to paint her as such might make her uncomfortable. Besides – life is all about experimenting and having fun, and if you’re too fixated on a single woman (who may have even rejected you), you’re not going to find the happiness you deserve. Try to focus on the upside, and if it doesn’t work out, tomorrow is always another day.