Dating as an adult is fun, eye-opening, and exciting, but it can also feel like a part-time job. Sometimes when I get overwhelmed by the whole process, I’m nostalgic for the days of high school crushes, particularly the unobtainable ones. I’m talking the “I’m a quiet freshman in love with a senior football star” brand of crushes. They were pure. They were simple. And somehow you were always so sure of them. Even when you suspected you’d never actually date the object of your affection, the whole thing was still a thrilling experience. What would your love interest be wearing that day? Would your class schedules force you to cross paths, possibly setting you up for a future together after all? It was a hormonally-charged mystery, just waiting for you to unlock the first clue.
When you’re forming relationships as an adult, your brain is constantly in overdrive: Is he ready for a commitment? Are you? Do you have the same sense of humor? Does he seem career-focused? None of those concerns existed in high school. You had the object of your affection and you were set.
I’m speaking from personal experience here, because I spent the duration of freshman year infatuated with a senior who kinda sorta knew my name. I believed myself to be in love with this particular guy for one very important reason: he was gorgeous. Oh, and he played guitar and I thought that was sexy. Any other limited information I knew about High School Crush I had gathered creepily from afar. This is because the actual amount of time we’d spent conversing totaled approximately two minutes. Despite this, I somehow maintained a delusional (almost admirably so) belief that he and I were meant to be. Spoiler alert: it never happened, but I didn’t feel any sort of negative emotions about the situation.
That’s the thing with high school infatuation. Even when you did get sad or frustrated, these feelings were so fleeting. You weren’t facing real heartbreak or seriously challenging choices like you do when you’re dating as an adult. I wasn’t spending lunches with my friends dissecting how many other girls he was dating, or how long I should wait to respond to his texts. Mostly because we weren’t going on dates and we weren’t texting, but that’s beside the point. It really didn’t matter that we never actually hung out. I didn’t care that half of the school was also in love with my boo. The crush was just fun.
I liked being at the talent show when his band was playing. I liked being in the cafeteria at the same time he was, even though he was in his VIP senior seating against the window, while I was shoved in the freshmen wasteland by the vending machines. There was none of the weirdness, drama, and/or confusion that happens when you’re actually out there dating your peers. Sometimes I wish you could go back and live that way again for, say, a week or so. Let’s be honest, after a week, I’d be tired of the low self-esteem, lack of disposable income, and no driver’s license thing. Plus, it’s fun to get dressed up to go on an actual date with a human who is fully aware of and excited about your existence.
It should be noted that High School Crush ended up going on to be a professional model, so past Lauren definitely knew what was up. And though we may not have wound up together, we’ll always have that moment when we walked out of the auditorium at the same time after an assembly and he smiled and held the door for me. You totally know that he smelled like Abercrombie Fierce. Swoonnn thought Freshman Year Lauren.