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The Crush-o-Meter — navigating the wacky and whimsical world of “like-like” feelings

These eight levels will take you through the various stages of having a crush

Have you ever been so smitten that you accidentally walked into a pole, or tripped over your feet? Just asking for a friend. If your answer is yes, then welcome aboard the bonkers train of the Crush-o-Meter — the unofficial yet totally relatable guide to the zany stages of having a crush. However, if you answered no, you should also keep reading. Chances are you will possibly develop a crush sometime in your life. So, buckle up and hold on to your rose-tinted glasses — we are diving in!

Level One, affectionately termed the “Did I Just Do a Double Take, Or Was That a Quintuple Take?” This type of crush starts out innocuous enough. There you are, living your best life, when suddenly — WHAM! — someone crosses your path post-rain, wet hair glistening, eyes shining brighter than a freshly waxed kitchen floor. Or maybe even stars that were stolen and planted in their eyes. Who could look that good after a downpour? It is unnatural. It is unsettling. It is . . . entrancing? You are not sure if it is their radiant smile, their melodious voice, or those bizarrely captivating eyes. Who knows? Unfortunately, it was hook, line, and sinker for you. 

Then, we ascend — or perhaps descend? — to Level Two, the stage known as “Is it Butterflies or the Newcomb Lunch I Just had?” With every fleeting glance their way, it feels like there is a full-blown dance party happening in your tummy. When you are crushing at this level, DJ Butterflies is spinning some wild tracks. Is it love, or is it food poisoning? One brings joy — the other needs antacids. Evaluate accordingly.

By Level Three, affectionately dubbed the “I Promise I am Not Talking About Them Again …  Ten Minutes Later — Oops Stage,” you are a goner and your obsession makes you an unbearable chatterbox. You may even be considering starting a fan club but are uncertain about the membership fee. Your friends are one more mention about them away from implementing a “Crush Swear Jar”  — the idea being that every time you utter their name, they would make you put a dollar in the jar. At that rate, you might end up funding their next semester’s tuition.

Level Four, the transformative “Sherlock-ing Every Text” stage. They texted, "Hi” with a period. Is it a secret code? A subtle hint of their deep, brooding feelings? Or perhaps they just have impeccable grammar. To comma or not to comma, that is the existential question. At this stage, a “Hey” versus a “Heyyy” sends you into a spiral of over-analysis. Three “Ys” — they are about to propose, right? One “Y” — better start considering a life in a secluded mountain monastery.

After sleuthing every message we slide into Level Five, the “Oscar-Worthy Daydream Director” stage. This is when your daydreams about your crush deserve not just an Oscar, but a dedicated film festival. From Parisian picnics to moonlit boat rides in Venice, your imagined escapades are blockbuster-worthy. The two of you, dancing under the aurora borealis or laying on the Lawn, sharing a heart-shaped ice cream sandwich. Your mind's Netflix subscription is getting its money’s worth.

With Level Six, we are in deep space. In the “They're The Sun, Moon, Stars, and I'm ... I'm ... Getting a Slight Tan” stage, you see your crush as the celestial center of your universe. They brighten your day with the sheer power of their existence. You have started practicing your SPF routine because you know you could get emotional sunburn from basking in someone's metaphorical glow. But, hey, Vitamin D is good for you. Right?

Level Seven, the whimsical “Picking Names for Our Future Goldfish and Cactus” stage. They like plants. You like pets. Why not combine them because you are so obviously compatible? Why stop at traditional pets? "Goldie" the fish and "Spike" the cactus are destined for legendary pet adventures,  plus it just has a certain je ne sais quoi. You, your crush and the things you love, how perfect. 

Alas, we eventually drift into Level Eight, the “Wait, They are Just ... Mortal” stage. This stage, which is more so just a step away from your dive into delusion, is maybe the most important on the list. Those once-glittering rose-tinted glasses now have a slight smudge. You realize your crush sneezes funny and laughs at their own jokes — before getting to the punchline, and heavens, is that a smirk on their face? The celestial, untouchable, simply gorgeous being who once dazzled in post-rain resplendence now seems to be a mere fragment from a past life. Love is blind, but sometimes it peeks.

In conclusion, dear reader, crushes that take you through trials, triumphs and tribulation are the spicy salsa on the nachos of life. Sometimes sweet, sometimes fiery, occasionally making you question your life choices. But, hey, whether you are basking in the glow of infatuation or nursing the heartburn of reality, remember to keep your sense of humor. And an umbrella — because, you know, the whole wet hair and shining eyes thing. Or maybe that’s just me!