The Apgar of crushes

UPDATE: I think I have enough data to definitively conclude that this list doesn't work. This has strengthened my sense that "crush" isn't used consistently, and that it's an anticoncept that obscures what people really mean. Some attributes I left out seem to have to do with excitement, fear, and intrusive thoughts.

I don’t have one of those secret Facebook groups for people one has a crush on, for reasons similar to why I don’t celebrate International Tell Your Crush Day. However, I did happen to participate in a recent discussion about crushes, and mentioned my proposed replacements for the concept - the same ones I proposed in that blog post:

You enjoy their conversation or company.

You admire one of their character traits.

They are nice to look at.

They are so beautiful it literally hurts to look at pictures of them.

You feel comfortable and safe around them.

They turn you on.

You feel like they understand you.

If they ever truly needed your help, you would want to drop everything to take care of them.

To my surprise and slight chagrin, people interpreted this not as an attempt to taboo “crush” entirely and replace it with more precise language, but to provide a working definition of the term. A couple of people suggested that a good working definition of a crush might be someone who satisfies three or more of these criteria. I’m going to roll with this, and propose this as an Apgar-style test for crushes.

The story behind the Apgar score is that Dr Virginia Apgar was tired of people using inconsistent subjective judgment to determine whether a newborn needed medical help, so she developed a health score for newborns. To construct the score, she listed the various criteria someone might use to assess a newborn’s health, and coming up with criteria for “good” (worth 2 points), “OK” (worth 1 point), and “bad” (worth 0 points). A newborn’s score is calculated by adding up all the points. She didn’t use any empirical quantitative methods to develop this, she just… made it up. And it’s so informative that it’s still used in nearly all modern hospitals to this day. This is a very good example of how even very rough, made-up quantifications can make your judgment much better. (For more on this, read How to Measure Anything.)

I’m looking for help validating this test, from people who do use the word “crush” to describe their attitude towards someone. Think of five people you’ve crushed on, and five people you feel warmly towards but do not have a crush on. Then for each person, tally how many of these crush criteria apply. No need to name names, but it would be nice to have the crush scores for both the crushes and non-crushes. By comment is ideal, but it’s fine to message or email me if you want to keep it nonpublic, or even put it in my anonymous feedback form if you don’t want me to know who you are.

4 thoughts on “The Apgar of crushes

  1. catherio

    A few other ideas:
    - You have repeated intrusive thoughts about the person
    - Interactions with the person feel "high stakes"; that is, you feel like you really deeply care about the outcome of seemingly trivial interactions with them
    - You want the person to have a favorable opinion of you
    - You actively seek out information about the person (by googling them, looking at their facebook wall, searching for photos of them, reading their blog, etc.)
    - You have daydreams/visions/fantasies about implausible scenarios involving you and them

    Take a look at for more ideas!

  2. Aceso Under Glass

    This captured some but not all of my experience. I would like to add:

    * You find talking to them/doing some activity together really exciting.
    * You like who you are/feel like your best self around them.

  3. Tara

    Crushes: 5, 6 ,3, 4, 5
    Non crushes: 4, 5, 6, 5, 5

    So it seems this metric is not very predictive for me, I think the biggest factors for me would be: incessantly thinking about them
    Smiling whenever they popped into my mind
    Seeking out opportunities to be around them

  4. Staying anon

    I have four friends who more-or-less meet the same 6 criteria. I massively crushed on one for a while, mildly crushed on two, and didn't discernibly crush on the last. (They're missing "so beautiful", which isn't something I relate to at all; and "turn you on", but I'm borderline asexual.)

    My current crush meets ~2 ("enjoy their conversation or company", "nice to look at"), but I barely know her yet and it's not currently a strong crush. I have another friend who meets those two plus "feel comfortable and safe"; in general, I don't feel comfortable around my crushes, I feel nervous.

    I relate to catherio's suggestions a lot more, as well as to "find talking to them/doing some activity together really exciting.".


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