Confident, independent, and smart, each crush embodied a trait that I desperately hoped to possess. They were the women I wanted to be … less friend, more aspiration. I realize now that many of these "women" were actually children. (Stacey, as it turns out, was 12.) But as I grew older, my crushes did too. Now that I've established a circle of friends in New York, most of my crushes are professional. That's natural, I suppose. When my friend Kate told me about her wildly accomplished psychology professor, I didn't think twice when she also mentioned her amazing haircut. So when she told me they were meeting for coffee, I asked what she was going to wear. We both laughed. When you're standing at the door of your career trying to learn the secret knock, meeting an older, successful counterpart makes your heart beat a little faster. What are internships and entry-level positions if not crush-makers? By watching those who have succeeded, you learn what you want. As my friend Lauren, who also works in publishing, puts it, "Show me a masthead, and I'll show you my girl crush."
Do men experience similar infatuations? If my highly scientific poll of coworkers and buddies is any indication, they most emphatically do not. But having observed past boyfriends take up wine and golf and even spear-fishing after joining a new firm, I'd venture a guess that they also fall into crushes—just obliviously. (It's quite possible that men experience every emotional journey women do, just obliviously.) Which brings me to the reason girl crushes exist: fundamentally, we are never going to be understood by the opposite sex in the same way that we can be understood by our own sex. Take it from me. Should A Boyfriend Double As A Best Friend?
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Once upon a time an ex-boyfriend and I got into an argument about our desert islands. His had a population of two. He was quite adamant that I, and I alone, would be enough company to last his entire lifetime. My island was more like Australia. As much as I thought the world of him, I (foolishly?) acknowledged that he could never be my entire world. Oh no. My world would always be filled with obsessive, Jane Austen-reading, cupcake-devouring women. I needed to be surrounded by people who could talk boots one minute and political scandal the next, people who noticed my haircut, even when it was a half inch trim. People who remembered the insignificant details of my life. It validated my existence. And I told him as much.
He didn't get it.
We argued about it time and again. Eventually, I reassured him that he was enough. My one, my only, and now—my ex. But science supports my intuition. Researchers concluded long ago that individuals with a strong support network of friends live longer and recover from illness quicker than those who go it alone. Recently, the implications of these findings became even more interesting. 4 Ways Family And Friends Help Our Relationships
Recently psychologists at the University of Utah and the University of Chicago published studies indicating that the emotional energy exchanged in our closest interpersonal relationships directly impacts our cardiovascular and neuroendocrine activity. In other words, a reassuring conversation can lower blood pressure, whereas a heated confrontation can raise it. That's right: stressful relationships are actually bad for your health. Conversely, positive friendships are good for it. Factor in what social psychologists refer to as the "matching hypothesis" (the tendency to pursue relationships with individuals you perceive to be equally attractive as yourself) and you might conclude that snaring a new friend can validate, or even boost, self-esteem. Ergo, girl crushes are good for you.
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And that is why, when my best friend was working abroad, she modeled three outfits for her roommates before deciding which one to wear to greet me at the train station. (They thought she was insane.) And that is why I can't stop thinking about the woman I met at that party. She's not only charming and thoughtful and stylish and talented, but she has a puggle (I really want one), owns her apartment (ditto), and knows a nice guy who would be just right for me (hooray). Would it be too forward to invite her to dinner?