To tell or not to tell — that's the question when it comes to crushes. It takes courage to write that note or walk up to someone and say, "I like you." You might get butterflies in your stomach just thinking about it. So, with Valentine's Day coming, should you reveal what's in your heart or keep your feelings a secret?
Most Said Discuss Your Feelings
We wanted to find out how kids handle their crushes, so we asked more than 4,000 girls and boys. While 36% said it's best to keep it a secret, more than half of the kids (64%) said to tell the person how you feel.
But when it came to their own crushes — 80% said they currently have a crush on someone — kids were a little less eager to spill the beans. Only 55% mustered the courage to tell their crush about their feelings. Here's how they did it:
- in person — 23%
- had a friend tell the person — 23%
- in a note — 11%
- over the phone — 4%
- other ways, including online — 39%
Good News, Bad News
Of those who shared their feelings, about a third (34%) received the happy news that their crush liked them, too. After Jeremiah, 12, found out Charity liked him, they started talking and became a couple. He likes her because she's always laughing and happy.
But things didn't work out that well for almost 70% of the kids who responded to the survey. When they revealed their feelings, 25% said their crushes said nothing. Ugh. The rest heard that the person didn't like them, just wanted to be friends, or liked someone else.
Allison, 8, blew kisses at her crush and now says, "I think he hates me." Oh, dear! We hope that's not true. Sometimes, learning someone likes you can make a person feel uncomfortable. Maybe the boy felt embarrassed and didn't know what to do with all those flying kisses!
Yvette, 10, likes her crush because "he is nice and isn't mean to anyone or gets into fights." But when she told him she liked him, he only "said OK in a nervous voice." Hmmm…Yvette might be wondering that "OK" means!
And when Marianna, 10, told her crush she liked him, he told her it was "inappropriate for school." What should she make of that?
Nine-year-old Eve says she's "too chicken" to tell her feelings to the boy she likes. "I'm screaming it inside, but I'm silent on the outside," she said.
Johnathan, 10, thinks he's found the perfect person in Ashley, but he hasn't told her either.
It's Normal to Be Nervous
It's normal to feel nervous about sharing feelings like these. Some kids really want to let their feelings out, and see if the other person likes them too. It's a little like going on a new ride at an amusement park — you don't know what's going to happen or if you're going to like it! Sometimes…wheeeee! You have the greatest time of your life. But if you don't get good news from your crush, you might wish you never stepped on that ride. And afterward, you might even feel a little wobbly and sick!
It's Your Call
The good news is that there is no right answer — only what feels right to you. It can be nice to share your feelings, but it's also just fine if you decide never to tell your crush how you feel. Why? Because a crush is a way for kids to imagine what it will be like to be in love when they're older.
You might daydream about the person and try to picture what it might be like to go on dates like older teenagers or even to get married and have children like grownups. Or maybe you think about what it would be like to hold this person's hand, to dance with your crush, or even to kiss him or her. Such interesting thoughts!
But it's fine to keep them as thoughts and daydreams. If you want to talk about your feelings, but not with your crush, you can confide in a good friend or write down your thoughts in a journal. Even if your feelings stay a secret, your crush might always be a special person in your heart. More than 1,000 kids told us they still remember their very first crush — even if it was way back in preschool!
Cindy, 11, remembers having a crush on Jordan in kindergarten. She didn't know a lot of English back then (she's from China) and said he was one of her very first friends. "I liked him because he brought lots of happiness to me at that time," Cindy said.
Zachary, 11, said his first crush was in preschool. "I liked her because she was funny. I even tried to kiss her!" he said.
Like Cindy and Zachary, you can look back on the crushes you had. How many have there been? Where are your crushes now?
And you also can look ahead to the future. How many more crushes await you, especially those who will like you back? Even Allison (who blew unreturned kisses to her crush) knows that she has only just begun. We asked her how many more crushes she expected to have before finding the perfect person and she said…more than 20!
Reviewed by: D'Arcy Lyness, PhD
Date reviewed: January 2007