Love is a mysterious thing. You never know when it will strike, and it can be close to impossible to figure out if your crush actually likes you back. Is that a twinkle in their eye, or were they tearing up at a TikTok? Was that hug more than just friendly? Did they sit next to you on purpose? Is the reason their smile gets so wide when they see you love? Ugh, so many questions, so little answers, and literally zero clues to help you figure it out! Well, strike that last part. With scientific studies on romance, we’ve learned about some clues to tell if your crush likes you back! You’ll be the romance’s version of Sherlock Holmes or Inspector Clouseau. If there’s a crush afoot, you’ll find ‘em! Today, we’ll search for clues by presenting you a story of Mia and Jenny. What were the signs that they liked each other? And how can you know if your crush likes you too? Let’s find out!
The Initial Tip Toeing
First, meet Mia. She’s your regular, everyday college student with too many interests and too little time. She enjoys sewing, binge watching The Office, and baking banana bread almost every weekend. But most of all, she loves to study in her university’s library – not because she’s such a conscientious student, but because it’s where she can be close to Jenny.
Aaaah, Jenny! Beautiful, amazing Jenny. Mia is sure she doesn’t have a chance, but she still can’t stop the butterflies in her stomach whenever they study together. It’s like she can literally feel her heart pounding in her chest. Her ears and cheeks get all warm. Sometimes she catches herself smiling and staring at Jenny while she’s taking notes. And that’s when she wonders: “Gosh, Mia, are you out of your mind??”
Mia may be a bit embarrassed by her behavior, but psychology says this is totally normal. A 2020 study published in journal Adaptive Human Behavior and Physiology found that when we’re highly attracted to someone, we tend to show nervous and anxious reactions. Participants from the study said that when they’re around someone they like, they “…experience increased attentiveness, smiling, staring, increased heart rate, giggling, blushing, and difficulty concentrating.” The study also found that “participants reported observing nervous reactions by others whom they perceived were attracted to them.” Is it possible that Jenny noticed all of this?
Tell Me All About It!
Jenny was a bit on the shy side, so when she noticed Mia glancing at her across the table, she was too afraid to look up. Oh, but she wanted to! Ever since Mia first sat next to her in the library, she couldn’t stop thinking about Mia Study session after study session, she wanted to talk to Mia but didn’t know how. What would she even say? A joke? What if it’s not funny? And what if… Her overthinking got interrupted by a note Mia passed her. “Wanna take a break and grab a cup of coffee?”
And that’s when they had their first coffee and conversation. Jenny was still very anxious and afraid of accidentally referencing a stale meme from 2010, but as they talked more and more, she realized, with Mia, she can totally open up. In no time, they went from hating on the barely lit Game of Thrones ending to discussing Jenny’s struggles with social anxiety. Was that the beginning of a friendship or something more? If you ask psychologists Irwin Altman and Dalmas Taylor, they would agree that this is the beginning of a little romance. In 1973, they developed a theory which states that relationships begin and grow through talking about yourself. This may start as small talk, but as time goes by, this can turn into sharing more intimate stories or that one fear you’ve never shared with anyone. This is how relationships gain meaning, and this is exactly what happened with Jenny and Mia. Let’s see what happens next with our enamored girls!
Let’s do it together!
Mia couldn’t believe what was happening! She and Jenny?? Dating??? Ever since she mustered up the courage to finally talk to Jenny, they’ve been going on all sorts of dates from talking and drinking vanilla iced coffee to taking yoga classes together, riding their bikes, and baking banana bread in Mia’s tiny condo.
Even though things were going really well, Mia was still too afraid to show her real feelings. It was just too risky to try and confess her love… What if it scares Jenny away? While these scared thoughts ping ponged around her head, Mia didn’t even notice how strong their bond had gotten and that Jenny was falling in love, too!
Researchers Leslie Baxter and Connie Bullis studied relationship turning points just like the one we’re seeing with Mia and Jenny. As they concluded in 1986 when they published their first findings in relational turning points, doing shared activities together is one of the common themes that turn a close friend into a partner. Mia was so nervous that didn’t notice Jenny’s voice shaking when she stood a bit too close, or how she always found a way to “accidentally” touch her hand. What do you think? Do you think this is love blooming or just some friends with anxiety? Drop a comment below!
Letting the world know
Jenny was absolutely sure that she was in love now. If she had the courage, she would scream at top of her lungs to let the whole world know!! Spending time with other people suddenly seemed so boring. To help make those times more bearable, she decided to invite Mia, as well. Event by event, Jenny’s mom, sister, and even her best friend from elementary school all got the privilege of meeting her soulmate Mia. Remember how embarrassed both of the girls were to show signs of affection when they first met? Well, their family and friends thought it was pretty obvious they were head over heels for each other, but neither minded. In fact, that actually made them happy that their loved ones noticed.
When you introduce a friend or significant others to other groups of people in your life, this is what psychologists call social networking. They believe that as people become closer and more committed to each other, there is more overlap between their social networks. One study in 2005 published in Western Journal of Communication found that women who desire a relationship with their friends are likely to introduce them to their social circle. Example: Mean Girls. Regina George wanted to get to know Cady better to figure out how to manipulate her, so she introduced her to her friend group, the Plastics. That way, Cady would be invited to more outings, and Regina would have more opportunities to get to know her. Malicious intent, but same principle as what Jenny did with Mia! Jenny wanted her to officially become a part of her life, so she intertwined Mia into other aspects of her life. Everyone seemed to love her and that gave her a boost of confidence that she was searching for.
Let’s take a little pause from Mia and Jenny’s story for a second and analyze their situation. According to science, Mia and Jenny exhibited all of the signs of romantic attraction, even if they believed it was just friendship. Hopefully, they’re able to show their true feelings soon! Is something similar going on between you and your crush? We know it’s hard to see the line between love and friendship, so if you need even more clues, take a look at 8 Signs You’re More Than Just Friends.
As for Mia and Jenny, one day, when no one was looking, they shared their first kiss in that cozy library where it all started. Their fingers are crossed that you and your crush will share one, as well!
Altman, I., & Taylor, D. A. (1973). Social penetration: The development of interpersonal relationships. Holt McDougal.
Baxter, & Bullis. (1986). Turning points in developing romantic relationships. Human Communication Research, 12(4), 469–493. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-2958.1986.tb00088.x
Guerrero, L. K., & Chavez, A. M. (2005). Relational maintenance in cross‐sex friendships characterized by different types of romantic intent: An exploratory study. Western Journal of Communication, 69(4), 339–358. https://doi.org/10.1080/10570310500305471
Guerrero, L. K., & Mongeau, P. A. (2008). On Becoming “More Than Friends” The Transition from Friendship to Romantic Relationship. In S. Sprecher, A. Wenzel, & J. Harvey (Eds.), Handbook of Relationship Initiation (pp. 175–194). Abingdon: Taylor & Francis.
Hughes, S. M., Harrison, M. A., & de Haan, K. M. (2020). Perceived nervous reactions during initial attraction and their potential adaptive value. Adaptive Human Behavior and Physiology, 6(1), 30–56. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40750-019-00127-y