And when the characters do finally get together? It’s joyful and complete and maybe just the tiniest bit of wish-fulfillment. One of my favorite longtime crushes that finally gets resolved is Ron and Hermione’s relationship in the Harry Potter series. They want each other for years, and both their own personalities and the stress of survival in their world keep getting between them. Ron, in particular, has to work so hard to understand his own feelings and become someone who deserves Hermione. When he finally gets his act together, and they find one another, it truly feels like coming home.
Writing my debut YA fantasy novel, The Uncrossing, I used one of my all-time favorite romance tropes: the longtime crush. There’s something so satisfying about unrequited love slowly becoming returned. First, we get to wallow in some delicious crush angst—all that good yearning and longing and desiring stuff. Every time the object of the crush is obliviously sweet or accidentally cruel, we feel that sting along with the main character. I grew up on 90s teen movies like Can’t Hardly Wait that built on these long, slow-burn crushes.