Social Question

nikipedia's avatar

What's the half-life of a crush?

Asked by nikipedia (27338 points ) October 15th, 2009

For the non-science types, half-life is the time it takes for something to decrease by half.

I’ve heard a lot of people say the “honeymoon phase” of relationships only lasts about 18 months, and after that, the relationship is based on commitment, companionship, shared interests and values, etc. So surely a crush, which has none of those things, should start decaying well before that point. Right?

So how long should it take until a crush has decayed to one-half of its initial crush level? What’s the longest crush you’ve ever had?

Or do crushes not fit an exponential decay model? Do they expire suddenly all at once?

Bonus question: Do you think it’s fun to have a crush, or is it just agony? (I am working off the assumption that a crush, by definition, is at least mostly non-mutual. Right?)

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22 Answers

Allie's avatar

Ha, well, I still have a (very, very, very, very, very) slight crush on someone I liked about three years ago. To be honest, I’m not sure I actually like him. I don’t hang out with him anymore so maybe I’m just remembering what it was like to like him, if that makes sense. Anyway, I would think that crushes have a half-life shorter than the honeymoon stage as well. Just look at how many crushes girls have on boys in junior high. It like a different boy every month and like they completely forgot about the boy they liked last month.
I think the longest “crush” I’ve had would be the one mentioned above. Removing that since I’m not actually sure it is a crush, I’d guess around a month or two before I kind of gave up and didn’t care anymore.
I don’t think they have a due date or anything. I’m sure it’s different for every person and that each crush presents a different case. I do think it’s possible for one crush to have a week long half-life and another to have a much longer half-life. I don’t think there’s a specific ending point.
Yes, I would define a crush as non-mutual as well. Once it’s mutual, it’s something else, like “liking each other” or whatever. I think crushes are for the most part fun, but if it starts to hurt to think about them or you just can’t seem to get over them, then it starts to become agonizing.
Interesting question, Niki.

HGl3ee's avatar

I think that, simply, this idea of lengths of time regarding crushes or the “honeymoon” phase of a relationship is not dependant on a half-life theory but on the individuals themselves. When it comes to human emotion and relationships, there are theories yes, but no set structure. It’s as unpredictable as we are! – LB

mcbealer's avatar

I immediately think of my crush on Dave Matthews… that’s 10 years old and nowhere close to approaching half-life intensity-wise, ha ha.

As far as day to day acquaintences though I would say it really matters just how unrequited the crush is.

For an example, is there any back and forth flirting going on or is the other person oblivious…

Typically I would probably say half-life is in the area of…....... sorry! I started daydreaming about a certain someone and yeah…

I think half-life = a couple of weeks maybe? It really just depends on so much!

And yes, they are usually fun – unless things get out of hand expectation wise, and then it can be agonizing, or annoying – depending on whether you’re the pursuer or the pursued.

derekfnord's avatar

I don’t think there’s a definite length of time. It varies. Most crushes seem relatively short… a few of weeks to a few months. But they can certainly be longer. I had an unrequited crush on a girl in high school that lasted, full force, for over a year-and-a-half.

I guess they can fade away gradually, but in my experience, they tend to be more mercurial than that. They come on very quickly at the beginning, and die out very quickly at the end.

tinyfaery's avatar

@mcbealer That’s the first person I thought of too. And you stay away. :)

In my experience crushes last as long as the mystery or thrill of the chase persists. There is no rule.

Why must there always be rules, Niki?

Cupcake's avatar

I think the length of time of the crush depends on
A) how long/well you knew the object of your crush
B) the amount of and frequency of interaction with the object of your crush
C) the length of your prior crushes.

dpworkin's avatar

Check your pitocin levels, that oughta give you a clue.

doggywuv's avatar

I bet that psychological phenomena such as crushes can be explained by mathematics, but I think that they’re much too complex for their duration to be explained by an exponential decay model. A rigorous explaination of a psychological phenomena would consist of a lot of information…

nikipedia's avatar

@pdworkin: What? Why would I be taking a synthetic oxytocin analog?

Gundark's avatar

I remember reading several years ago that there had been studies on the various chemical changes that take place during the early phases of a relationship. The study showed that the chemical changes that induce the type of euphoria and other wild feelings people typically experience during crushes cannot be chemically sustained by a normal body past about 24 months (give or take—I don’t remember the exact number, but it was close to this). I wish I could remember where I read the study. Anyway, it goes a long way toward explaining why relationships often get more difficult after a while. At the point where chemistry fails, your “commitment, companionship, shared interests and values” have to take over, or there will be nothing left to sustain the relationship for the long term.

wundayatta's avatar

I agree that it varies. I think my crush half life is (or was) around two weeks. I loved the feeling of obsessing about someone, and waiting in agony to see if they would contact me. It made me feel like the world was much more vivid and it mattered more. Seems strange to love the agony. Sometimes you are requited in a crush (i.e., the person does show a return interest), but if you do things very intensely, you inevitably screw up by moving too fast or something, find yourself somewhere you don’t want to be, and then it comes crashing down around you.

I don’t like this personality trait. It still rears its ugly (yet compelling) head in my life from time to time, and taming that beast is a real struggle for me. It wasn’t until the last year or so that I even knew what I was dealing with.

If what @Gundark just posted is true, then my cycle is quite a bit faster than the average one. Well, maybe that’s just because most of these things go unrequited. However, I do experience “the chemistry” effect. For me, I think it’s like crack or heroin. I was thinking I could learn to control it, but maybe that’s a pipe dream, so to speak. Maybe I just have to stay away, period.

CMaz's avatar

3.5 Months

dpworkin's avatar

Sorry, meant oxytocin. think of them as being the same hormone.

Gundark's avatar

@daloon the study didn’t address how short the cycle could be—only how long the body could sustain it. I think we’ve all experienced situations where something “turned us off”, and shut down those chemical reactions.

janbb's avatar

I had a crush once for 13 years – slow learner! It was exciting but painful and stupid.

kevbo's avatar

I think it fizzles. At least for me it does.

nisse's avatar

~3 months to half-life for me, 6 months ‘til finally “gone”, if i can get the person in question out of my life. If not, i can go on obsessing forever.

I think a sin(x)/x model fits my emotions quite well:
http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=plot+sin%28x%29%2Fx+from+x%3D0+to+30

boffin's avatar

17 yrs. and I still have the “warmies” for my wife…

Allie's avatar

@boffin The “warmies”... how cute of a word is that. The meaning is pretty adorable too.

kyanblue's avatar

On average (for me), the half-life of a crush is two days.
But I’m young yet.

It’s somewhat enjoyable agony up until you realize how futile and unrequited it is, then it’s just miserable. When you have no hope of a mutual crush…

yankeetooter's avatar

I’ve had a crush on someone for about 5 months now, and it shows no signs of lessening. If anything, it’s becoming more intense…

yankeetooter's avatar

And to answer the bonus question, it’s both fun and agony (the most wonderful agony you’ll ever experience…)

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