1. If you wanted to talk to your crush on the phone and were daring enough to do it, there was no private cell phone number you could call them up on. Instead, you had to get out the school directory, look them up by their last name, then wait until “dinner time” was over so you could CALL THEIR HOUSE.
2. You would pray and pray and pray that your crush would answer, but most of the time, it was their mom or dad that picked up. So you’d have to control your panicked stutter enough to ask if you could please speak to the love of your life.
3. And nothing was more terrifying than when mom or dad replied, “Sure. May I ask who’s calling?”
4. If all went well, you would have a nice five to ten minute chat while your mom followed you around the house, trying to eavesdrop. Then you would call up your BFF’s house (you had their phone number memorized) and tell them all about it. By the time you got to school the next day, everyone knew you guys were “going out.”
5. The way to seem cool and aloof was to put as many inside jokes in your AIM profile as you could think of, so that the person you liked would think you were funny and ~*popular*~.
6. Playing hard to get meant clicking on your crush’s screen name, opening up a chat window… and then staring at it and waiting for them to chat you first. Nothing was more thrilling than seeing “JDawg1991 is typing” in the screen window.
7. You spent a great deal of time in the evenings agonizing over “romantic” song lyrics someone posted in their profile and wondering if maybe, just maybe, they were about you.
8. It wasn’t uncommon to have a three-hour AIM conversation with a love interest on a weeknight and then pretend you didn’t even know each other at school the next day.
9. It is difficult to put into words the excitement you would feel each time you heard the door opening sound on AIM – and wondering if it was possibly your crush signing on.
10. Grinding wasn’t a thing yet. So at middle school dances, you would either sway with two feet between you and your partner during slow dances, or you would jump around with your friends during the fast songs and show off that you knew all the words to “Lose Yourself.”
11. Middle school was tough, but you definitely had some people in your life who understood your dating woes, like Lizzie McGuire and Corey Matthews. But you had to PLAN YOUR LIFE around that shit. If you had to miss their designated t.v. time slots because your parents wanted to have a family dinner, you were shit out of luck.
12. Being passed a hand-written note in the middle of class meant more to you than a text message ever will. The *danger* of it all made everything so much more romantic.
13. And if you felt the same way, you wrote back in gel pen. Because gel pen always raised the stakes.
14. Rather than Snapchatting people back and forth with the duck-faceiest, flirtiest pics possible, middle school flirting habits simply consisted of conversations that went like this:
- wuts ^
- nm, u?
- just chillin
- same lol
- so who do you like rite now
15. If your crush wrote “H.A.G.S.” in your yearbook at the end of the school year, you bet your ass you had a great summer. Partially because you looked at your yearbook every other day, just to see their note.
16. Random chats you received from unknown users that just said “A/S/L?” have a modern day counterpart in the form of creepy Tinder messages.
17. The kissy-face emoji wasn’t a thing. Instead, if you liked someone, you coordinated a group hangout at the movies where everyone got dropped off in minivans. You’d ignore each other for the first twenty minutes, and then find common ground over how HILARIOUS this Fat Albert movie was.
18. The fastest way to get over a breakup was to grab your Discman, put on some depressing Green Day songs, and walk around the mall feeling sorry for yourself. That is what healed all wounds.