What to Do About Every Gay Crush You’ve Ever Had, Have Now, and Will Have in the Future

Crushes are the best. Crushes are the worst! Crushes are a natural part of life and each one is special and different and joyful and horrifying and, well, crushing. More and more people have started coming to me with this question: What should I do about my crush? In fact, last month for the A+ Inbox, one reader even bravely wrote in: I have a crush on Vanessa, HELP! It was very cute and flattering and because I am who I am, I took the opportunity to tell this sweet angel, and all the other A+ readers, what I think can and should be done about a crush in general. Now I’m doing the same for you, because I care!

Because every crush is different, I can’t tell you exactly what to do with your specific crush. However, I am of the belief that most crushes can be divided into one of the following categories, and that once you’ve figured out what kind of crush you’re experiencing, there are some basic guiding principles you can follow about what to do next. As always, I can’t guarantee that this advice will magically turn your crush into your girlfriend, but I can promise that after reading this you will have a better understanding of yourself and your crush, and you may even discover that transforming your crush into a date or a partner is not the outcome you’re looking for! Crushes are wild and often irrational, but I’m a Capricorn so I’d like to make them slightly more logical. Here’s how you can do that, too.

Step One: Admit That You Have A Crush

Once you have a crush, you have a fucking crush. I find that it’s best not to think too hard about why you have a crush on any given human. There really is nothing less logical! Maybe the librarian at your local branch just has a bunch of really cute sweaters and always smiles at you when you walk into the library and it’s hot. Maybe this girl you barely know posts incredibly inventive thirst traps on Instagram stories and you can’t look away. Maybe your gal pal of a million years just came out as bi and you’ve always felt this intense energy between the two of you and now you’re wondering if that energy is True Love?!?!?! Maybe it’s been a long cold winter and now it’s spring and the sight of a warm body, any body, really gets the blood pumping! Who! Is! To! Say!

A crush is a crush is a crush and the truth is, once your brain has pinged CRUSH and you’ve decided to devote your entire self to being swept up in this extremely specific experience, it’s best to just roll with it.

Step Two: Figure Out What Kind Of Crush You Have

For me, personally, I like to figure out what kind of crush I have before deciding what my action item(s) should be.

I broke down some basic categories of crush so that we can move through part one of this step smoothly and quickly. In my opinion, the general grouping of crushes can be labeled as such: IRL crush, not-famous internet crush, quasi-instagram-famous internet crush, celeb crush. If you know the object of your desire in real life – classmates, co-workers, the cute barista, etc – they are an IRL crush. If you know the babe from the internet – Tinder, Instagram, etc – but they’re just a babe in the world, using the world wide web in the same way many of us do as a tool in our daily lives but not as like, a Main Source Of Income And Sustenance, they’re a not-famous internet crush.

If this human you are crushing on is weirdly quasi instagram famous, well, there you go! (Listen, I know this is a weird one! We are living in weird times! But we have to acknowledge that a dyke who makes memes on Instagram for 50,000 followers and who is recognized on the streets of Portland because of this odd niche fame that probably brings in zero dollars but many, many, many unsolicited crushes is a specific kind of crush that is not the same as like, your ex-girlfriend who had 300 Instagram followers and a locked profile. This is not a value judgement on anyone in any part of this situation – it’s just a bizarre reality of being a human being in 2019.) The final category of crush is straight up celeb. If you have a crush on Lena Waithe, Samira Wiley, Rhea Butcher, Ellen Page, or any other super famous celebrity… mazel tov, join the club, get in line, etc.

Step Three: Choose Your Action Item

Classifying the crush itself, as we did in step two, is quite easy. This next part – classifying what you hope the outcome of this crush will be – requires a bit of introspection. We can’t control other human beings and we should not try to! We go into this step with the full knowledge that anytime we have a crush on someone it may not be reciprocated, and that is totally fine. That said, it’s helpful to know what you even hope will happen.

Daydream-Only Crush

Sometimes you don’t need anything else to happen. You can just luxuriate in it and it’s delicious all on its own, no action required! Isn’t that lovely?! This is particularly relevant for celeb crushes, unless you live in LA where I gather that queer celebrities just gather at Cuties with regular civilians and y’all flirt with each other and don’t lose your shit, right? I’m not cool enough for that so you can rest assured I absolutely lost my shit when Kristen Stewart showed up at a reading I attended at Powell’s last month. Anyway. Have a crush! Bask in crush energy! Accept that like, 95% of humans on the planet probably have a crush on your crush! The process could stop here.

We Know Each Other, Would You Like To Make Out Crush

Other times, you’d like to take your crush out on a date, or make out with your crush, or at least let them know you have a crush on them and see if it’s mutual! I’m sure you’re shocked to hear that my advice for this step is… communicate with this human!

If you know the person IRL – whether they’re a friend or an acquaintance or an almost stranger – it is absolutely acceptable to say something along the lines of, “Hey, I think you’re so cute, I’d love to take you out sometime. Would you be into that?” Obviously this can be adjusted based on the nature of your current relationship. If you’re besties and have known each other for 10+ years, you might want to write a little note so your pal/crush can read it on her own time and figure out how she feels (and so that you don’t have to agonizingly watch her face for a reaction as you deliver the news in real time). Or maybe you suspect your friend has a crush on you too and you just wanna say, “Babe, I totally have a crush on you, is it mutual? Do you wanna make out?” If the person is someone you are not close to – your barista for example – you’re going to want to treat this more like formally asking someone on a date, but I beg of you, please do not ask someone on a date while they are working!

We Don’t Really Know Each Other But Would You Like To Make Out Crush

If you know this person from the internet you can actually follow similar rules to the ones I suggested above. We all act as though the internet has made dating etiquette so ~wild and wacky~ but in reality it is extremely similar to how it has always been. If you’ve met someone through Tinder or a similar dating app, it is safe to assume that they are also looking for love/sex/a warm body to kill some time with before the apocalypse. You are well within your bounds to tell a person you met in the context of both of you looking for dates that they are cute and that you’d like to go out with them or kiss their face. Sometimes I sext with people before I’ve met them and that can also be chill but you must negotiate consent before diving into this! Do not assume someone wants to talk dirty with you unless you have both explicitly confirmed this! That includes sending sexy photos – don’t send your crush sexy photos without checking in first, even if you’ve both admitted that you’re crushing on each other!

DM Slide Crush

And then there are the people you’ve “met” on the internet in contexts that are not explicitly dating sites, and yet, somehow, here you are, with a crush on them. That’s fine and normal! It’s 2019, it is extremely natural to develop a crush on someone’s Twitter persona or Instagram thirst traps. THAT SAID. It is very important to remember that when you have a crush on someone’s internet persona, you do not actually know them, and that person is in fact still a stranger! If you wouldn’t say something to a stranger at a bar when starting a conversation, please goddess do not slide into someone’s DMs and say it. Think of the internet as the largest bar or cafe in the world, and think of every time you slide into someone’s DMs as initiating a first conversation at a bar. If you have a crush on a cute girl on the internet and you’d like to do more than just bask in it, slide into her DMs with some emoji reactions or a short sweet message indicating a desire to flirt. If they seem into it, go from there. If they don’t respond, take that as a no and move on. Even though it may be tempting, do not continue to send messages with no response from them or only very extremely perfunctory response from them, or just move to trying them on a different platform! Life’s too short and the queer internet is way too large to get bummed by a crush not returning the feeling.

Step Four: Make It Fun!

I know as teens the idea of having a crush is like, totally torturous, but I think as adults we should reframe the concept of a crush as super fun! Everyone is such a babe, y’all – how are we not all crushing all the time?!?

The thing about crushes that is different from dates or girlfriends or partners or spouses etc etc etc is that a crush is just about feeling butterflies in your stomach. It feels intense! It feels charged! It feels chaotic, like anything could happen! It makes you feel alive!!!

Crushes are magic because they’re the breath before anything else happens. Honestly, there is so little in this world of adulthood that is good and pure. We can’t even enjoy those fucking alien comics anymore. Crushes are perfect, and we should be allowed to enjoy them. I hereby grant us all permission to have a million crushes for however much longer we have to live on this scorched hell we call Earth, and to make it fun! Ask out your crush today, or don’t! Slide into her DMs or just continue liking every single thirst trap they post until we all die! Follow your thirst, be respectful, communicate, and if you ever get stressed about your crush just remember – there’s a very good chance that someone is crushing on you too, right this very moment!

Happy End Of Aries season, amen.

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Vanessa is a writer, a teacher, and the community editor at Autostraddle. Very hot, very fun, very weird. Find her on twitter and instagram.

Vanessa has written 404 articles for us.


  1. This is how I realized I’m now an Adult ™ : Crushes don’t hurt no more !

    Or maybe I’ve reverted back to when I was a pre-pubescent and life was good, and I had a crush on so many older girls ! Those were the days.

    • LOL just realized that now my crushes are on younger girls and also Holland Taylor because.

    • Me toooooo.

      I used to have such PAINFUL crushes in my teens/early 20s. And some truly awful ones when I started flatting on some of my flatmates. Argh, hormones.

      Now, I can just enjoy them, although I do sometimes become a stammering mess if I encounter a crush object outside a normal context. But eh, if it looks like it might be a mutual flirt situation, I’ve got the confidence to just do with it now.

  2. relavent to me as i prepare to message the quasi-internet famous crush that i also happened to find on tinder!!!!!!!!! these r exciting and weird times

      • i think you can hold off if you matched on tinder! depending on the height of her quasi-internet fame she likely already knows you’d recognize her from instagram, or at least knows there’s a good chance you do. no need to act totally surprised if it comes up, but no need to lead with that, either.

        good luck!!

  3. I am sorry as someone who does go to cuties on the weekend I haven’t seen a celeb, besides Brittani Nichols. I feel like all of them are at Leisha Haley’s house for a bbq or in the lesbian sports leagues.

  4. This is so so good; crush magic is real; AND I want to remind everyone that the smiling librarian in the cute sweater is just an underpaid human in a poorly-temperature-regulated building (hence the cardigans) performing potentially-mandatory emotional labour. You might be their one true love! But all barista/Instagram-famous caveats definitely apply; you do not know them at all yet; please save your “I’ll check you out” jokes for later.

    • oh, absolutely. anyone who is being paid to be where they are when you are not being paid to be where you/they are is 100% at work and almost certainly performing some emotional labor!!! sorry i thought that was a given. thank you for bringing that up and emphasizing it!

  5. I have a logistical question. If you shouldn’t ask someone out at their workplace (and yes, that seems super awkward) but you don’t see them in any other context, is there a way to somehow initiate that transition?

    I assume the answer is to ask if they might like to be buds outside of seeing them behind a counter first, but how is “hey, you seem cool, wanna be friends?” different or any less potentially weird than “hello, human at work, would you like to go on a date”? Ah, the uncertainty…

    • Idk, having worked in the service industry for a long time, I don’t think asking someone out as work is unilaterally bad, especially if you’ve met a few times and the feelings seem maybe mutual. They definitely aren’t able to ask you out! As long as it’s low pressure (phone number on a receipt or maybe asking to exchange instagrams if you’re into that) and you’re able to avoid them for a few weeks if it seems really awkward, I think it’s fine. The ethically funky thing about those interactions is the position of putting someone on the spot while they’re being paid to be nice to you so as long as you avoid doing that you should be good.

      • this is a great point. almost everyone i know has at least one and usually manyyyy stories of customers putting them in rly uncomfortable positions at work, so when giving prescriptive advice i like to be REALLY cautious about this. i do think leaving your number or IG handle on a receipt is the safest way to go in these cases, because like you said that removes the sense of obligation the person at work may feel if, alternatively, you were to put them on the spot. i appreciate a different perspective from someone in the service industry (as a nanny and a writer i am not often in this position) i just always want to be the most careful re: boundaries and consent when giving out dating advice on the internet.

    • lauren’s response to this below brings up a good strategy — leaving your number or IG handle on a receipt so you’re putting the ball in the other person’s court when they are not on the clock and being paid to be hospitable is a safe bet, IMO.

      i think, to be clear, the main thing that is uncomfortable/inappropriate about asking someone out while they’re at work is they are being paid to be nice to you (literally even if they do like you the power dynamic is still there) and so putting them on the spot is a pretty shitty move, even if it is well intentioned. i would actually say asking someone to be friends or hang out at work is similarly not great unless you’re getting an extremely obvious vibe, but even then, many jobs involve setting up a scenario where the customer FEELS LIKE you are friends with the person working when in actuality they are just…being good at their job.

      i personally tend to think of barista crushes etc in the realm of “just a daydream” AND i acknowledge that i’m a little spoiled because i lived in portland and now i live in nyc and tbh if i see a hot queer working at a coffee shop, it’s highly likely i’ll see them at the next gay dance night or something and i can figure out there, in a place where we’re equals, if there’s actually a vibe/spark. but i do see how that wouldn’t be likely for everyone in every town/city.

      i’d be really curious to hear from other service workers about this if anyone wants to weigh in! i just always want to be the most respectful and appropriate, whether it’s to my local barista or my local IG meme maker, ya know?


      • Food/hospitality worker here! The power imbalance is real! Do not verbally ask out hospitality workers, it’s a terrible time for everyone. I can’t always respond the way I want to, depending on who can hear, whether you’ve paid your tab, and/or 1000 other variables! My agency is compromised at work. Also, this may not be true for everyone, but I definitely have a slightly different persona I present to customers. I call it ‘customer face.’ Customer face is more charming, positive and blandly pleasant than I am IRL. It’s great for tips but can be misleading.

        The ig handle or phone number left on a receipt or a note is just fine. That leaves the decision up to me without placing me in any professional pickles. If you do this and don’t get a response, you can come back to the business if you feel comfortable. Do NOT come in to ask why they didn’t hit you up or plead your case.

        One time a woman walked up and handed me her number on a post-it while blushing BRIGHT red. It made my entire day, and we went out a couple times and had a great time. It’s possible!

        • Chiming in here to agree. When I’m at work, I’m paid to be nice to you! Even if I like you and want to be nice to you anyway! It is literally my job to talk to you, laugh at your jokes, make you feel special. I love the leave a number on the receipt move (or IG handle, that’s actually better as it allows me to scope you out a bit before contacting you)

          -a bartender who will absolutely wink at you even though I’m very happily married

  6. Re: a We Know Each Other, Would You Like To Make Out Situation –

    Thankyou Vanessa for pointing out that a direct question is the best approach (and providing examples of what to say).

    Secondly -consider that perhaps you’ve been crushing on this rather awesome human for a long time and of course have ALL THE FEELINGS. It may be news to them, however! Give the person processing time AND time to respond!

    I Threw My Feelings At Them; Now Together and In Love, Have Learnt To Ask Direct Questions.

  7. The only other advice I have to add to this excellent set is that if you “met” your crush online and there’s potential for it to be something more, meet IN PERSON as soon as you can.

    Honestly, it doesn’t matter in the long run hot your flirting or sexting might be – you don’t *really* know how it’ll be with that person until you actually meet. I’m a hell of a lot smoother online than in person (I get un-awkward pretty quickly once the action starts though), and sometimes someone’s attitude/physical presence is very very different to how they present in the virtual sense.

    Internet rapport can be a great indication you’ll have SOMETHING in common, which is a great start, but I’ve definitely had the experience of learning that someone’s online presence elided a lot of stuff that was very significantly off-putting in real life.

  8. As someone who is now dating her best friend because I just straight up told her when I had a crush on her – sometimes telling people you have a crush on them is absolutely soul destroying, but mostly even if the other person doesn’t have a crush on you back then they tend to view it as quite complimentary. And then sometimes yes you do get to date the person you’ve already moved in with and get to see them everyday (u-hauling 3 weeks before the first date has to be one of the most lesbian things I’ve done)

  9. Ok so I have one class (band) with her and we’re in different grades and we’ve only had a few casual conversations as acquaintances but I am HEAD OVER FUCKING HEELS for this girl. I want to get to know her better but since we only share the one class I can’t think of a scenario where I could talk to her without being weird or disruptive… HELP

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