As I sat across from the administrator of St Crushdrews, I had a single question bubbling in my mind: “Why?”
Silence filled the air as he paused, glancing away in thought. “This is going to sound bad,” he said. “But it’s because I’m incredibly nosy.”
With over 2,500 followers on Facebook, St Crushdrews is a hallmark of St Andrews’ student life. It’s a social media page where students can voice love interests and fancies behind the safety of computer screens. The large part of its audience are mere onlookers, mostly students, trapped in dull lectures, Tesco’s queues, or the library, checking to see if strangers have seen them as would-be lovers. But it’s not all curiosity: some couples have even admitted to finding the sparks that started their relationship on the page.
The concept is by no means unique to St Andrews, other universities have their own versions of it, like ‘Crushbridge’ at the University of Cambridge and ‘Warwickfessions’ at Warwick university. It’s not hard to see why it’s so popular: it’s much easier — and less frightening — to express love interests without worrying about having to face potential rejections or other awkward repercussions.
But something else still baffled me: who would take the time to run the forum? Who was willing to keep the page running on a daily posting schedule, checking that students can always rely on St Crushdrews for a necessary dose of gossip, laughter, and intrigue?
Only 24 hours after first messaging the St Crushdrews Facebook page, I found myself sitting, pen-in-hand at Rector’s cafe, waiting to debunk that mystery.
I had absolutely no idea who exactly I was waiting for. Watching the cafe’s doors slide open and closed, I visualised a host of eclectic TV and film characters: Gossip Girl’s Dan Humphrey, Disney Channel’s Radio Rebel, and even Bridgerton’s Lady Whistledown.
But then an unassuming, smiley third-year student took a seat opposite me. I was somewhat surprised. I am not quite sure whom I expected to be the face of St Crushdrews — David was not it.
As he removed his headphones and sat down, his eyes darted around the room.
I reassured him that his identity would remain completely anonymous. For the purposes of this article, he agreed to be referred to by his first name, David — but that wasn’t the source of his nerves. “I’m quite open with [my identity]” he said, noting that even in a small town where rumours spread in minutes, it hadn’t been a challenge to keep his secret identity close.
When asked if he had been interviewed before he shook his head apprehensively: “No, not really.”
But he soon began to open up.
David’s journey as St Crushdrews administrator began when he noticed that the previous page had gone dormant around 2021, near the end of his first-year.. One night, over a casual conversation with friends, he noticed that people were submitting crushes to St Fessdrews, another of St Andrews’ anonymous confession Facebook forums, since they were without a crush-related page. Taking inspiration from similar forums, he researched the software he needed to use to create the anonymous confession forum: Uni Truths — a Facebook confessions page manager. Within a few days, St Crushdrews was reborn.
The page, he said, began to find its following as he used the account to comment on St Fessdrews posts. Users started clicking on the page for more of his content. Gradually, the page amassed a dedicated following, pushing out some other, smaller, crush-related pages.
Initially, one of David’s flatmates assisted him with managing the page, but that arrangement didn’t last long. And since then, he has been running St Crushdrews entirely on his own.
But isn’t that a big workload? For David, apparently not.
“I don’t really think about Crushdrews all that much or think about working it into my schedule,” he said. “It’s just something that I do whenever I'm on the bus or in a minute of downtime, or before bed especially.”
Plus, with the help of the software that he uses, he only needs to check the account once or twice a day to approve posts. When he does check, he makes sure that the post adheres to three simple rules: no first and last names, no submissions that would fit better on St Fessdrews, and no negativity of any kind.
“A while ago I banned anti-crushes because they were too negative and not what people were looking for on the page,” he said.
With a following equal in size to about a fourth of the University's entire graduate and undergraduate classes, it’s a wonder that David doesn’t monetise the impressions and clicks that come through it with advertisements.
“I could if I wanted but I don't,” he said. “I feel like it should remain sort of very unmonetized, because once you start monetizing you’ve got to think about a lot more stuff. That's not really something I'm interested in.”
Curious, I asked David if he himself has ever been on the receiving end of a secret crush confession.
“There have been a couple of instances,” he said, laughing. “I work in hospitality. So when a crush is submitted on x at such and such establishment, it is quite obviously me.”
But he insisted that he has not used the account to his romantic advantage: the posts are anonymous to him, as well, he said.
When asked about whether he knows of any successful Crushdrews romances making their way out of the Facebook page, David couldn’t point to any individuals directly, but he did recall a chain where two individuals (which can be identified on the Crushdrews page as #StCrushdrews4970 and #StCrushdrew4965) seemed to have met up after a mutual confession.
Another student said they had a friend who went on his first date with his current girlfriend after submitting a post on Crushdrews, where he said he wanted to see her after they met at an afterparty. Her friend tagged her in the post, and the rest was history.
“Getting to see something coming out of it is probably one of my favourite things about it.” said David.
Despite the positive aspects of the forum, St Crushdrews can also be a topic of controversy: Daivd admits that he frequently receives messages from people asking him to take posts down. But it's not only individual posts that have raised eyebrows — It’s the page, and its culture, at large.
Most recently, an article was also published in Her Campus, arguing that the page is upsetting, offensive, and promotes objectification. I reached out to the article’s author, Lily Algate, who is a second year student, to hear more about her qualms with the page.
Much to my surprise, she told me that her article was written ironically.
“I personally love St Crushdrews, I think it is the funniest thing ever and I love reading it,” she said. “But I wanted to take it from such an offended stand point, just to see how I could roll with it.”
She was surprised by the messages she received in response to the piece. Some strongly agreed with the article’s stance, while others stood in complete opposition.
“I had no idea how people would react to my article when I wrote it. The amount of messages and responses I received was not what I had expected at all,” she said. “A lot of people read it — which I was really surprised about — and a lot of people were like: ‘Oh I completely agree with this’ and some people were like: ‘You have no right to be saying this’.”
But even while she has a soft-spot for St Crushdrews, Algate made the point that there is a fine line between complimenting someone and objectifying them.
“Obviously there is some objectification there, like when there are comments about people in the gym,”, she said. “That's when the line blurs.”
For his part, David strongly opposed the suggestion that his passion project promotes objectification.
“I wouldn’t say it’s objectifying people,”he said. “It allows people — at least the way I see it — to express emotions or feelings that they wouldn’t be able to otherwise, for nervousness or fear of rejection.”
But, with David now in his third year, keeping that alive will require a successor. The administrator said he had considered keeping the business in his academic family and passing the baton down to his academic children, but his hopes for an academic family were dimmed by his academic fiance leaving the University.
Who’s next in line for the Crushdrews throne is unclear. David said that he is confident he will find someone to fill his role, but he noted that he will need to have vetted them first.
“I suppose I need it to be someone I can trust to keep the page going,” he said. “I’m not sure about opening it up to the public. It would have to be someone I know quite closely.”
As to whether David might continue his work down the line, as a professional matchmaker perhaps, the answer seems more certain.
“No,” he said, laughing and shaking his head firmly.
Illustration: Holly Ward