There's something wholesome about a high school crush. The simplicity of a time before the abyss of meaningless swipes on Tinder; before you had any shame about changing your entire wardrobe and personality in the hope of gaining attention; before you'd ever been dumped.
If you had a crush on someone, there was absolutely no way you would tell them. Nobody did that. Instead, you'd blush furiously and avoid looking anywhere near their general direction. You'd privately speculate whether it meant something that they might have glanced at you at the bus stop, or that they'd sat behind you in a class, or – crucially – that they'd been the first to ask "How's u?" on MSN the night before.
Years – and probably a few miserable relationships – later, you might think about your school crush. Is Jamie still as fit as he was in year nine? Would you still be down if you saw Hannah now?
In the spirit of this past week – of Valentine's Day and love and not being alone forever – we looked up our school crushes to see if we still fancied them.
"I can look back now and see the repressed closeted teenager I was"
I wonder if any of my friends believe me when I say that I only had crushes on girls at school. I can look back now and see the repressed closeted teenager I was. But back then, through heterosexual willpower, I (unsuccessfully) pined after beautiful women.
Being at an all-boys school probably didn't speed my journey to the eventual happy realisation and acceptance of my sexuality. It also meant the majority of interactions with girls that I fancied were online.
This was via Facebook, but back in the days when you wrote on people's walls, posted cringey statuses and no one got 10 likes on their photos, let alone hundreds.
I've just deleted this high school crush on Facebook in case she reads this article. I also destroyed all evidence of the messages we wrote on each other's walls because...
It's hard to believe it was only eight years ago.
She was seriously cool, I was steadily average.
Looking through her pictures now, the life she displays to the world is sun-drenched and successful. There are dinner parties. There are requests for lawyers to help on a tech startup. There are wholesome countryside walks.
I'm happy she appears to be doing great. I'm also happy our lives diverged when they did.
"To this day, Foo Fighters' 'Best of You' brings back the feelings of painful inadequacy"
My high school crush was perfect. He was the lead singer in a band, he liked Lord of the Rings, he looked a bit like Zac Efron. He was also a big fan of Muse, and so suddenly I was in love with Matt Bellamy and knew all the words to "Time Is Running Out".
When he got a hot girlfriend from the year above I was devastated – as were the many other girls in my class who also coincidentally loved Muse too. That year, a group of us went to Isle of Wight festival. We were all watching Foo Fighters when the two of us and his girlfriend got separated in the moshpit. To this day, "Best of You" brings back the feelings of painful inadequacy brought about as they enthusiastically sucked face.
I got over him soon after that, and we were friends for the rest of our time at school.
Looking him up now, I don't think it was meant to be: he runs an "outdoor centre" and does triathlons – I still don't know how to ride a bike. He lives with his long-term girlfriend and seems settled and content – the prospect of domesticity terrifies me. He also still looks like Zac Efron, but these days I'd rather an Adam Driver. Although, full disclosure: I still like Muse. I guess some things do last a long time.
At the start of GCSEs, a guy I had never really noticed before was suddenly in all my classes. He was funny and flirty and I had a massive crush on him.
He was super emo, I was the type to wear a Jack Wills top under my school shirt. So I attempted to be a more successful version of the girl from "Sk8er Boi": I dyed my hair black, cut myself a fringe and started listening to Bring Me the Horizon. It didn't work out, but I did briefly date his friend – another Olly Sykes wannabe – so it wasn't all in vain.
A few months later I got my first real boyfriend and reverted back to an Abercrombie-clad prep. I kept buying Kerrang! for a while, though, and still listen to My Chemical Romance from time to time.
Nine years later, he lives at home and is working in a shop in my hometown (with the same haircut). I can't see myself heading back to rural Berkshire anytime soon, and I doubt I'd fancy him if I met him now – but we'd probably still have a laugh. He's in a long-term relationship, so I think the feeling would be mutual.
"She was head girl, I got kicked out of school for smoking weed"
She was hot, smart, a hard-working beacon of virtuosity. She was one of the popular girls, I was not one of the popular guys. And still, I was hopelessly enamoured.
We were in competition for Head of Year. When visitors came to look around the school, we used to be sent by the headmaster, as a pair, to give them the grand tour. I was painfully aware I fancied her, but never mentioned it. To be honest, I had no chance: I was barely visible on the school social spectrum that revolved around her. The conversations we had on those rare occasions amounted to me awkwardly fumbling my words.
Suffice to say, it wasn't to be. On top of my inability to hold a conversation, a year later I got kicked out of school for smoking weed. I moved to London, never to return, and she was left to take the spot of Head Girl unopposed, like a cruel despot of my heart. I haven't seen her since.
Looking her up now, she has a long-term boyfriend and has graduated from a reputable university into a serious job in business. She still hangs out with the same friends. But as with most girls I fancied in my wanton youth, I doubt I'd like her if we met today. Somehow virtuous isn't really my type any more.
"If he asked me out tomorrow, I'd probably still say yes"
I met my crush at a school rock concert. We dated and, after pressure from his friends, he asked me to be Facebook official, but then he ghosted me for a month. I'd text him almost daily asking what he was up to, but got no response, so I lied and told him that I'd shaved my head in rebellion. That got his attention pretty quickly.
After a two month relationship he dumped me the night before my English A Level exam on a park bench in front of all of my friends, claiming that he just "didn't want a girlfriend, but I shouldn't be upset because we hadn't slept together".
A year later I discovered a video on YouTube of a song that he'd written with a line saying that he'd "fucked" me, which is pretty tragic considering we never even got close.
Then, a couple of years down the line, I bumped into him at a festival and we hit it off again. Afterwards I used any excuse to strike up a conversation. Needless to say, he ghosted me.
If he asked me out tomorrow, I'd probably still say yes.