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21st Mar 2024

Why having a crush is good for you according to science

Anna Martin


Do you remember the last time you had a crush on someone?

Did you feel butterflies in your stomach every time you saw them or were you more of a make-sure they don’t spot you kind of person?

Sometimes it can feel like the best thing in the world, you’re not exactly in love but you get that rush. Other times it can feel like a big no-no, I-don’t-want-to-catch-feelings kind of situation.

Well, apparently that funny feeling is actually good for you – at least according to science.

What happens to your brain when you have a crush?

Credit: Getty

Considering a crush makes you feel butterflies and have a thumping heart rate, it can be easy to forget it all started in your brain.

In the case of the first rush of young love, comes from a certain part of your brain, the mammal part, containing your reward centres, which are responsible for pleasure

Gabija Toleikyte, a neuroscientist working at the University of Sheffield, explains that oxytocin, the neurotransmitter responsible for trust and attachment, is secreted when we see the person we like.

“Oxytocin is responsible for that warm sense of glow in the brain and body we get when we hug somebody we love or are attracted to, romantically or otherwise,” she explained to Women’s Health.

It can be so powerful that in 2005 a research team led by biological anthropologist, Dr Helen Fisher, was actually able to see the side effects of love on fMRI brain scans.

According to an article by Harvard Medical School, they looked at 2,500 scans from college students who were shown a photo of a love interest, as well as a photo of an acquaintance.

When looking at the former, the two regions of the brain activated the reward center of the brain, and the ventral tegmental area, which is associated with pleasure and focus.

Why is it good for you?

Credit: Getty

Thankfully, when you fancy someone it has some pretty good benefits thanks to the influx of dopamine and oxytocin.

“Dopamine lifts our energy levels, makes us attend to our environment more and boosts our intellectual ability,” says Dr Toleikyte.

“Dopamine is also crucial for motivation; a feeling that things matter, that things have a point.”

Studies have shown that crushing can decrease loneliness, boost confidence, and give us important insight into our needs and desires that help us improve our real relationships by highlighting what they may be lacking.

Crushes, even when not acted upon, can also inspire people to perform better at work, engage more creatively with their passions, and be generally more active. 

So, continuing crushing on people!