Around every Christmas, I find myself watching these cheesy Hallmark movies. The ones where the spirit of Christmas is found through the local baking competition. Besides the cookie-making, these films repeatedly tell the tale of two former classmates reconnecting and falling in love. A high school crush years later – the ultimate romantic notion.
What is it about this scenario that captures the mind? Reddit and Quora are awash with queries on high school crushes: Are they stupid for still thinking of them? Should they reach out? Does anyone have any positive experiences?
Perhaps it’s the fantasy of going back in time and re-editing; maybe the desire to relive teenage innocence. A time where the biggest dilemma was staying out late past curfew. While romance films portray this scenario as a fairy tale – two beautiful souls meeting again in a picturesque town that holds a yearly ball, most of us come across the people we once fancied on Facebook. And most of the time (if we’re being honest), we look at their profiles and think, what happened?
It’s certainly lucky that when I saw my high school crush years later on the social media app, I didn’t ask that question. I wondered instead how to start a conversation.
My high school crush story
With a quiet personality and a side fringe that swooped across my entire forehead and almost covered one eye, I went through school with a fairly low-key existence. I was neither the funniest, loudest, prettiest, smartest, most talented nor creative. If you came across my writing skills back then, you’d be amazed at my ability today. I sat in complete contrast to my crush: Popular, intelligent, funny. We are a walking Hollywood cliché: The quiet girl and the popular boy.
In our final school year, he admitted to really liking me. At the time, shy and awkward, I said little back. We went through college together barely in close proximity. Once we left, I moved on and began my twenty-something stage of going on lots of dates and having very few relationships.
In the midst of writing my poetry book, ‘Not in a Fairy Tale’ my high school crush visited my imagination. After writing a poem on ‘the one that got away’, I couldn’t help but think of him. Feeling stupid for daydreaming about a guy from all those years ago, I pushed the thought out – I told myself I was just bored and lonely in lockdown. And then, months later, his face showed up as a Facebook friend suggestion.
On our first date, the sun beamed on a warm spring evening. With butterflies and knots twisting my stomach and tying across my arms and legs, we greeted each other like we’d met only a week ago. I wore a white shirt and he wore a blue. Sipping on Pinot Grigio, our nervous chatter mellowed as laughter intervened. Surprisingly, we didn’t discuss high school. Since that first meeting, we have enjoyed many other dates and are now in a relationship.
Reconnecting years later: Expectation Vs. Reality
Meeting a high school crush is like meeting any crush or first date. Two strangers curious if they’ll find a match. There was I admit, comfort in knowing he was a familiar face. And extra excitement: remembering the deep feelings I once held for him.
What’s it like to date a high school crush years later? It’s sentimental – seeing how someone has developed and grown. It’s also sweet – I’m glad I can confirm my teenage fantasies weren’t wasted on someone unworthy. I like being able to link a piece of my younger self to now. But mostly, a teenage crush is simply an adult in your present life who may have grown in a similar or different way to you. They or you aren’t the same. You have to accept that your teenage thoughts will likely be different now.
So, should you reconnect?
It begs the question: Do you contact them to try to see if you hold a future? Or do you simply let them be, accepting that their image is better left somewhere in your mind and not reedited in your future? To help decide, you may want to consider:
- The What If Factor: That annoying bee that buzzes into your night time thoughts. Much of our ‘what if’ stems from the idea you have about a person. It’s easy to let our brains pick out the best bits to mould someone into an idea that’s not really true.
- Teenage mindset: We’re young and innocent. Maybe you’re going through a difficult time and looking back on your past with rose-tinted glasses. You’re remembering how amazing someone seemed according to your young mind.
- Romance idealisations: Too many Hallmark films. It happens. One minute you want to move to the city as a young Carrie Bradshaw, the next you want to buy a bakery shop in your small town and create bread with your old crush.
It’s important to remove expectations. If you decide to contact a high school crush – expect the worst. They might be married and settled or single and uninterested. Their ambitions might have fallen next to their bulging abs and love of good music.
Reconnecting with my old high school crush is the best decision I’ve made this year. We have a beautiful love story that began a decade ago. If you decide to contact your teenage love interest, keep an open mind and expect both a potential connection and a regrettable encounter. As they say, love is full of endless possibilities.
Want to connect with an old crush? I have an anonymous relationship advice column where you can write to me and get personal feedback. I gave advice to two people wanting to reconnect with their high school crush: Read Here.