16 reasons you have a crush on someone you barely know

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I remember when I was in college and I had a big crush on this physician. I barely know him, but I liked him so much.

It turns out I wasn’t the only one.

Indeed, many of us can’t help but get infatuated with people we barely know. And, as my research has told me, it’s largely because of these 16 reasons:

1) They’re attractive

When I was in college, I had a raging crush on Brandon Boyd and Milo Ventimiglia. And I liked them both simply because I found them attractive.

I’m sure that’s the case for you as well.

This is especially crucial for men, who deem the physical attractiveness of women as the most important factor.

According to the Principles of Social Psychology, “We like being around attractive people because they are enjoyable to look at.”

And, contrary to popular beliefs, it’s not just the facial symmetry that makes the person attractive. “Healthy skin, good teeth, a smiling expression, and good grooming” contribute as well.

As to why we like attractive people – despite not really knowing them – it’s largely because  “being with them makes us feel good about ourselves.”

“Attractiveness can imply high status,” say researchers. That’s why “we naturally like being around people who have it.”

We also think of attractive people “as more sociable, altruistic, and intelligent than their less attractive counterparts.” These perceived qualities, of course, make them more likable.

2) They look youthful

Age is nothing but a number. I mean, many ‘mature’ people still prove to be attractive.

Case in point: Keanu Reeves, Paul Rudd, etc. On the female side, there’s Salma Hayek, Jennifer Lopez, etc.

While they’re ‘older’ now, they continue to be crush-worthy because they still look youthful.

Indeed, we tend to gravitate to these kinds of people – even though we don’t know them. That’s  because those with “youthful-looking faces are more liked, are judged as warmer and more honest, and also receive other positive outcomes.”

Again, men favor youth. Unsurprisingly, studies have shown that “men of all ages (even teenagers) are most attracted to women who are in their 20s.”

Usually, it’s because they believe that “younger people (and particularly younger women) are more fertile than older people. That’s why “research suggests that men may thus be evolutionarily predisposed to like them more.”

3) It’s all about ‘the voice’

Although your crush may not be that attractive, their voice can send you into an infatuation frenzy.

Females, after all, find “men with lower-pitched voices more attractive.”

Men, on the other hand, “are more attracted to women with higher-pitched voices. According to The Conversation, it’s because it is “perceived as a marker for femininity.”

So it really doesn’t matter if they’ve just talked to you that one time. That’s more than enough for you to go ga-ga over them!

4) They’re similar to you

Going back to my doctor-crush, I didn’t know much about him (though I did a quick Facebook stalk of him if you know what I mean.)

All I know is we are in the same field (medical) and we went to the same school. That’s it.

And while this is just a little similarity (dismissible if you ask me), research has proved that we tend to go for people who are just like us.

Quoting the Principles of Social Psychology:

“Research across many cultures has found that people tend to like and associate with others who share their age, education, race, religion, level of intelligence, and socioeconomic status.”

Simply put, “Finding similarities with another makes us feel good.”

This happens mainly because “similarity makes things easier.” That’s why “relationships with those who are similar to us are also reinforcing.”

I mean, I find this to be true. My husband and I ‘clicked’ because we liked the same things: traveling, shopping for bargains, etc. We’re both nurses, so we totally get each other.

5) They’re ‘near’ you

Although we tend to have crushes on movie stars and musicians, there’s no denying that we like people who are near us – even though we don’t know a lot about them.

It’s all about proximity, hence the name ‘proximity liking.’

According to this principle, “People tend to become better acquainted with, and more fond of, each other when the social situation brings them into repeated contact.”

In other words, “being around another person increases liking,” even though you don’t know them quite as much.

That’s why your crush (even the person you’ll marry) will probably “live in the same city as you, attend the same school, take similar classes, work in a similar job and be similar to you in other respects.”

Again, this is what happened to me. My doctor-crush attended the same school as mine, and we worked in a similar environment.

So that’s one of the reasons why I went crazy over him…

6) You see them frequently

This reason is based on the mere exposure effect, which refers to the “tendency to prefer stimuli (including, but not limited to, people) that we have seen frequently.”

In other words, since you keep on seeing your crush, you’ll end up liking them.

Yes, you’ll eventually get drawn to them even if you don’t know them that well.

According to experts, this tendency is rooted in the evolutionary process. After all, “as things become more familiar, they produce more positive feelings and seem safer.”

Simply put, “Familiar people are more likely to be seen as part of the ingroup rather than the outgroup, and this may lead us to like them even more.”

7) You like high-status people

If you keep crushing on high-status people you barely know, it’s normal. After all, “Fame is an aphrodisiac.”

As the book Principles of Social Psychology describes it:

“Many people want to have friends and form relationships with people who have high status. They prefer to be with people who are healthy, attractive, wealthy, fun, and friendly.”

As you see, this is true for most females. According to academicians, “Women from many different cultures have been found to more often prioritize a man’s status over his physical attractiveness.”

In fact, “women actually respond more to men who advertise their (high) income and educational levels.”

And I’ve got to say, I am guilty as charged with this one. I liked dating doctors, lawyers, and other high-status people when I was young and single.

8) It’s rooted in fantasy

Back when I was a student, my doctor-crush greeted me when I saw him in the Operating Room. Sure enough, this interaction sent me to the moon for several months.

And it’s simply because of the fantasy I’ve built. In my mind, I think he likes me, simply because he said hello that one time. (I know, it’s crazy.)

Explains therapist Dr. Bukky Kolawole in his Insider interview:

“You have little pieces of information and what you see, you are drawn to in that person.”

9) You’re projecting your values onto your ‘crush’

Another reason why I had that mega-crush on that doctor I barely knew is because I was projecting my values onto him.

He said “Hi” to me that one time, so in my mind, I think him to be a gentleman.  I don’t know where I got that hypothesis, but that’s what I thought of him at that time.

Turns out, it’s because “the region (in our brain) that holds our past experiences, preferences, and self-image activates and instructs our eyes on who to love.”

As Dr. Kolawole expounds:

“When crushing, you might subconsciously think the person you always sit next to on the train is kind and caring, but you have no way to back up your supposition or fully trust them since trust is built through time and an established connection.”

10) It’s part of your sexual makeup

According to a Psychology Today article, “Feelings of attraction drive us toward approaching potential mates” because it’s all part of our sexual makeup.

And we can’t always choose who’d build up this attraction.

You can develop an obsession with a guy you barely know, and that’s normal. After all, we tend to be “attracted to people that we’ll never be able to have a relationship with.”

11) It’s an uncontrollable urge

As you see, your brain chemistry also has something to do with your crush.

According to experts, “Crushes feel like uncontrollable urges because they happen more quickly than falling in love… Crushing can feel like a spiral you can’t seem to get a grip on.”

And this happens mainly because the “feelings of a crush release the mood-boosting hormones dopamine and oxytocin to the brain.”

12) You were in a good mood when you saw them

Just like your brain chemistry, your mood plays a pivotal role in your crushes as well.

According to social psychologists, “When we find someone attractive, for instance, we experience positive affect, and we end up liking the person even more.”

That’s why if you want this person to like you back, make sure to put them in a good mood as well.

As experts put it: “Simply bringing flowers, looking your best, or telling a funny joke might well be enough to be effective.”

13) You were ‘aroused’ back then

Since we’re talking about crushes, the sexual definition may be the first one to come to your mind.

But I’m actually going to talk about another type of arousal, which, according to Wikipedia, is the “physiological and psychological state of being awoken or of sense organs stimulated to a point of perception.”

In other words, when you’re ‘awake,’ (which, in the studies below, almost always involve exercise), you may find someone more attractive.

For starters, research has shown that men who ran in place longer (and were, therefore, more physiologically aroused), “liked the attractive woman more and the unattractive woman less than the men who were less aroused.”

As for men who were interviewed on the bridge while they were crossing, they were experiencing arousal as a result of physical activity. However, they “misattributed their arousal as liking for the female interviewer.”

According to social psychologists, this happens because “When we are aroused, everything seems more extreme.”

And that’s because the “function of arousal in emotion is to increase the strength of an emotional response. Love that is accompanied by arousal (sexual or otherwise) is stronger love than the love that has a lower level of arousal.”

14) It’s all part of your upbringing

You tell your friends you have a crush on someone whom you barely know, and you point it to them.

They begin to scratch their heads, for this person looks ‘okay,’ to say the least. He’s not that good-looking, and he’s not even as high-status as your former crushes.

Well, it’s possible that you like him – even though you don’t know him that well – simply because of your upbringing.

In an Insider article, professor J. Celeste Walley-Dean explained that this happens because “our families, peers, and media all play a role in helping us learn what to view as attractive.”

It’s possible that you like him because he possessed attributes that remind you of your opposite-sex parent – and that is what you’ve always known growing up.

15) Your hormones are acting up

Now this reason goes out to my ladies.

According to the Insider article I’ve mentioned above, hormones also play a key role in attraction.

“In mid-cycle, women tended to prefer flings with “caddish” men and on average.”

Fertile women, on the other hand, “were more interested in short-term relationships with men who came across as cocky.”

So even if you don’t know a guy that well, you might end up crushing over them depending on where you are at that time of the month.

16) You’re in a relationship

Since you’re in a relationship, you *technically* shouldn’t have a crush, right?


In fact, those in partnerships are more likely to develop crushes – even if they don’t know them that much.

According to the Psychology Today article I cited above, it’s because they tend to “hold back expressing their feelings for the sake of preserving their relationship.”

Compared to a single person, who has the right to act on their impulse, coupled people tend to have bottled feelings (fantasies even) that they’re fighting to let loose.


We’re all guilty of having a crush on someone we barely know. And, yes, it can happen due to a variety of reasons.

Attractiveness. Youthfulness. Status. Proximity.

Heck, even your brain chemistry and hormones play a major role!

Now, if I were you, I wouldn’t think so much about this. Just revel in that lovely feeling. I know I will!

Raychel Ria Agramon

I'm Raye, a nurse licensed in both the Philippines and the US. I also have a Master's degree in Public Management.

Just like helping my patients, I like to empower & motivate readers with research-backed articles.

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