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We’ve all been there… or have yet to be there. It varies in degrees, whether it is from a simple search, to obsessing over the time and frequency of their likes. We develop a secret crush that we are too afraid, nervous, or unable to tell the crush-ee, and instead have to resort to gauging their instagram activity to answer the question if they reciprocate those feelings. 

While this “Insta-crushing,” might seem innocent, even harmless, it can leave a large emotional toll on us. 

Let me tell you a few personal stories, and a story of a gal pal close to me experiencing the same thing, just on a different degree. 

I really liked a few guys in high school but never told them that I did. One was in a different social group than me, so the laws of high school society deemed it inappropriate for me to reach out to them, and thus I never had the confidence to do so in the fear that it would lead to rejection. 

Another was the same situation, but we had some sort of spark, so I partly believed he liked me back. Another one was untouchable, because he was either in constant relationships or just was “too cool,” for me, so despite having a huge crush on him, I never spoke to him. 

The last one, we had been close friends in high school, until that was interrupted by him having to go overseas for a few years.

When I created an Instagram, I followed all of them. Now you might be scoffing at the fact that I rarely talked to most of them but somehow wanted to woo and connect with them through social media. Only the last one accepted my request, and ever since then, my Instagram has been carefully curated to catch his attention. Of course, I care to share my life with all my friends and dress up for myself, but the thought of, “I hope he finds me attractive in this dress,” or “does this angle of me look pretty?” is always in the back of my mind whenever I decide to post. And when he likes my pictures, my heart flutters a bit. 

Innocent, normal crush stuff, right? It’s equivalent to dressing up for school the days you have class with your crush and blushing whenever he looks your way. But I don’t take it so seriously because we often DM, so the possibility of reaching out to him and finally revealing my crush is reassuring to me.

But this attention to detail can take a toxic turn when you are overanalyzing things, or Instagram is the only form of contact you have with them, so you are almost forced to analyze it so much. 

My friend sees her crush almost once a year but she has never told him, and never plans to, mainly because she does not really talk to him. Her sole way of gauging his interest in her is to analyze his likes of her pictures, which can be so toxic. She notices and compares things like “he liked my last picture within an hour of posting but this time, it’s been almost a full day and he has not liked it yet.” This takes an emotional toll on her, which is not surprising.

While the two stories that I have shared vary in degree of the mental toll they take, they still bother us. My situation bothers me because I’m annoyed at myself and not being able to DM him and tell him about my feelings. And for my friend, the details, of time and likes, themselves are consuming her. 

So what are some solutions, some ways to wean yourself off this Insta-Crushing? It’s not to unfriend them, because they might be close friends and that might start some confusion or drama. It’s not to just tell them how you feel, because there might be a million reasons you literally can’t and unfortunately have to keep the crush to yourself. The “solution,” instead, is to realize that Instagram likes do not tell the whole story. If you notice a crush has not liked your picture yet, but has liked another one, it does not mean they are ignoring you or really just do not like you, it could mean that they were scrolling through their feed but had to get up in the middle of it and did not have a chance to reach your picture yet, and did not bother to scroll so much the next time they have a chance to be on Instagram. Think about a time you accidentally forgot to like someone’s picture or reply to their DM, and realize that it was not intentional, but an honest mistake. After all, no one is notified when you post, so it might not be that a person has intentionally refused to like your picture. 

Second is to come to peace with the fact that it is hard to single handedly win someone over with social media posts. While YOU might know that a specific post is simply to impress your crush, they will most likely view it as a normal post and not take the initiative of romantically DMing you revealing their love because there is no indication in your post that you are trying to catch their attention, and they might feel weird reaching out to you about your post. The shyness might go both ways! While revealing your feelings is not a universal solution, it is often the best way to find out if the feeling is returned. Obviously if you are not in a position to do so, analyze your situation practically and find peace in the fact that you might never know unless you reach out to them, and that social media is NOT an indicator of being interested in someone.

As long as you think that Instagram will eventually convey your feelings and make things between you and them work out, you will be stressed and let down. That’s not to say that relationships have been started over Instagram! But you need to know that it is very unlikely, and your faith in a little chance will probably continue to let you down. So focus on real life, and be practical about information presented to you! If you are able to simply tell your crush, do so. And if not, do not rely on Instagram details to give you that answer, because there are so many ways that those details can be erroneous. 

Good luck collegiettes!

Annie Oaks

George Mason University '22

A legal studies major with a knack for writing and fashion.
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