Let's talk about girl crushes, an age-old story once again generating chatter -- popping up on blogs, Web sites and online magazines. Women admiring other women. Looking to them for their physical beauty, grace, intelligence, strength, power, humor ... the list goes on. It's a butterflies-in-the-stomach, smile-to-your face kind of thing. Not sexual. Not romantic. But an attraction.
The girl crush. "Attraction is not always sexual," says April Masini, who writes relationship advice for AskApril.com, adding people can be attracted to puppies, flowers or hot cars. "So it is no wonder that women feel attracted to other women they would like to be like -- not with."
So true, says Tess Collins. The heterosexual Albany, N.Y., woman says she's had girl crushes as long as she can remember on strong, powerful, iconic woman. "You admire women who don't necessarily do what society wants them to do. Like Bettie Page. Marilyn Monroe."
As the owner of Tess' Lark Tavern in Albany, Collins admires the confidence and take-charge persona the women seemed to possess, because she often has to implement those behaviors when running the restaurant -- but it's not always easy.
"Often girl crushes are based on qualities we ourselves lack," says Cheryl Dellasega, a professor in the Department of Humanities at Penn State College of Medicine. "You see someone smart in math and you're not, so that attracts you to her, or someone who is always well put together and you wish you always looked so together."
Collins says she has a friend who is one of those women others always admire. Men, young and old, are attracted to her earthy, natural quality, her sense of humor. Women, too, love her humor and no one can resist her natural, lighthearted personality, says Collins, the way she is friendly to everyone, makes great conversation and just exudes a constant pleasant demeanor.
"Women, men -- everyone is attracted to her," Collins says. "The way she walks, talks. She's articulate, kind and nice to other women. She has no idea what she possesses."
It's uncommon for those who are crushed on to be totally oblivious, says Jim Houran, a clinical psychologist based in Irving, Texas, who is also director of psychological studies at the dating service True.com.
"The girl who is the object of the admiration would be aware -- or at least it is very likely so -- if she is a socialite, trendsetter [or] well-known, popular girl, who's looked up to by many people," Houran says. "In this case, the crush is almost a manufactured and artificial phenomenon based on popularity [and] social status. The girl expects such a crush."
Women in tune with the attitudes and behaviors of those around them may also realize their appeal. "Girls who notice naturally that they're the object of natural, non-manufactured girl crushes are ones who would be very open to experience, highly contentious, very extroverted and very agreeable or socially sensitive," he adds.
Not that the crush comes without incident. It's a little bit of the unknown, a little insecurity on both people's parts.
"Adolescent girls often find attractions to other girls bewildering and threatening," Dellasega says. "They don't realize that admiring someone and wanting to be like them or befriend them is something every woman goes through."
Kristi L. Gustafson writes for the Albany (N.Y.) Times Union.