Ask Anna: Crush or lust? How to decipher your feelings

Anna Pulley, Tribune News Service on

Published in Lifestyles

Dear Anna,

Lately, I've found myself questioning the nature of my attraction toward a new acquaintance of mine. He's charming, always has an interesting story to share, and I can't deny the physical attraction. However, I really can’t tell if this is the beginning of a short-term crush developing, or if I just need to get laid? It’s been a minute. Several minutes, in fact. Fine, months.

How can I tell one from the other, and more importantly, how should I handle either situation? My last romantic relationship ended eight months ago, but right now I'm more focused on my career and personal growth, so I'm not sure I want anything too serious. However, I still want to respect my and my maybe-crush’s feelings regardless of my personal motivations. — Downplaying True Friendship?

Dear DTF,

Do I like this person, or am I just horny? The dilemma may be as timeless as the chicken or the egg question — except the yolk’s on you because it may be both.

To use another weird bird metaphor, attraction is like a wild turkey — at times bewildering, occasionally dangerous, and often shrieking. Is it your maybe-crush’s magnetic charm and those stories that make you lean in closer, or has it just been a while and your body is screaming for a little physical attention? It's like trying to decide if you’re hungry or just bored. The fridge is interesting, but do you want to eat, or do you just want something to do?

Generally speaking, a crush involves a curiosity about the person, and not just, say, the way he fills out a sweater vest. It’s a yearning to know more than just their outer shell, a desire to spend quality time together that doesn't necessarily end in tangled sheets. You’re invested in the plot, not just skipping to the steamy scenes.


On the flip side, needing to get laid is more about scratching an itch — the person in question doesn’t really matter all that much. Aside from getting their consent.

That said, it doesn’t have to be one or the other — you could be crushing and want to bang this person. Humans are complex creatures; desires are rarely tidy or easy to compartmentalize; and hormones influence our decisions a lot more than we may want them to.

There’s nothing wrong with leading with the physical and seeing if the heart follows. It might not, or it might not align with what your maybe-crush wants, but having a more casual attitude of “let’s see what happens” — a spirit of curiosity — is a perfectly valid place to start.

Considering your focus is currently on career and personal growth, it's OK to explore connections that might not have the "forever" tag attached. The important part is honesty — both with yourself and with your hot acquaintance. Communicating your intentions and feelings — if that’s even what you want to do — might not seem very appealing, but it prevents hearts from turning into collateral damage.

Remember, there’s no wrong answer here, only different types of connections. Whether it’s a crush or a cosmic carnal call, embrace your feelings for what they are. If you want to act on them, do. If you want to enjoy them simply as fantasies, that’s fine, too. But don’t drive yourself nuts thinking there’s only one way to have or pursue a connection with someone.

There are so many! Approximately 109 each week, if you read Cosmo.

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