According to Stylist, developing and maintaining crushes on celebrities could be a symptom of the psychological phenomenon: “Having a slightly unhealthy crush on someone unattainable is a sign of wanting to escape reality,” Grace McMahon, a Beingwell life coach, recently told the publication.
However she also reiterated, “your celeb crush probably isn’t a symptom of burnout, but it might suggest that you’re not getting what you truly desire from your reality, which may be a result of burnout.”
Intrigued, we decided to investigate — could celebrity crushes really signify being burnt out? We queried two different experts who explained that whilst these crushes are likely not a sign of burnout, they can serve as coping mechanisms in response to various stressors.
“Celebrity crushing is part of our sexual identity exploration and developmental process that shapes our idealised version of sexual attraction and romance,” Clarissa Silva, Behavioural Scientist, Relationship Coach and Creator of Your Happiness Hypothesis Method, explains.
And these crushes are largely healthy, unless they actively interfere with someone’s perception of reality.
“It becomes problematic when it displaces your real life relationships, or creates disillusionment with reality,” she says. “Celebrity worship is an overly obsessional fixated person to what the celebrity represents that can result in depression and anxiety.”
However, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re burnt out. “To create a linkage with burnout and celebrity idolatry lacks evidence in the literature,” she says.
Plus, many people have developed these crushes as a coping mechanism during Covid lockdowns.
“For many, the mental health effects of pandemic isolation made people seek out creative ways to help cope with these harsh realities,” Silva explains. “Obsessing over parasocial relationships offered many a way to cope with prolonged exposure to these new norms, and the deprivation they created.”
Subira Jones, a London-based Burnout Prevention Consultant and creator of The Burnout Free Lifestyle, concurs. ““A celebrity crush is not a sign of burnout,” she says. “With all the beautifully curated, airbrushed, photoshopped images we see of celebrities...it’s quite normal to have a crush.”
That said, “a crush should not be misconstrued with infatuation. By definition, a crush is have a feeling of amour for someone who is utterly unattainable, I know Idris Elba is unattainable but it doesn’t stop me crushing on him.”
Infatuation, however, “may be a sign of a more serious mentally illness.”
Crushes “allow us a level of escapism from the humdrum of our daily life,” and are generally a reasonable coping skill, Jones says.
However, she adds: “Infatuation with an unattainable love interest however can contribute to burnout,” as “burnout is caused by chronic exposure to stress in all areas of your life. Infatuation and[/or] unrequited love may add to the stress that already exists in someone’s life, contributing to their burnout.”
But a crush? “It’s normal,” Jones concludes. “Enjoy your celebrity crush.”
So as long as you’ve not built a shrine to Harry Styles (or whoever the object of your desires may be), you’re probably doing just fine.