Considering Crushbridge: is there room for romance in Cambridge?

In her weekly romance round-up, Rachel Imrie addresses the most amorous of concepts – an anonymous submissions page

Rachel Imrie

'Crushbridge reveals a primal need within all of us to be noticed'pixabay

What can Crushbridge – the Facebook page established in 2017 that has now amassed over 15,000 likes – tell us about love at Cambridge?

Firstly, it can tell us Cambridge boys love blondes. Extra points if you: a) wear a colourful jumper, b) make a habit of studying in the law library, or c) fall over in a clumsy but ultimately endearing manner. Don’t shoot the messenger, I’m just calling it how I see it.

It also tells us that Cambridge students and (judging from the number of copycat pages across the country) the majority of the UK student population are positively starved of romance. Among the supervision deadlines and the casual nature of most Cambridge relationships, these little love letters are the virtual vestiges of a form of courtship that many would have thought long forgotten.

Crushbridge reveals a primal need within all of us to be noticed – more importantly – to be wanted. Although the posts clearly addressed to specific partners are undeniably heart-warming, it’s the random exchange of glances and smirks that really send the hearts fluttering and make those Facebook tags flattering. You may have been singing a starling call to your prince(ss) charming from your window, absent-mindedly running your hands through your curls in the faculty café, or being violently sick into a bin outside Life. Whatever the situation, the idea that someone saw you, specifically you, and was sufficiently moved by the sight that they took to their keyboard in the hopeful but inevitably fruitless endeavour to find you – well – it’s a modern-day fairytale.


Mountain View

How to find love in Cambridge

Yet, has anyone found a lasting relationship from the ‘[insert initials] @ [insert college]’ format? As much as the thought that you may have garnered a stranger’s admiration can brighten an otherwise bleak day, the feeling is fleeting and, more often than not, its author remains anonymous. If the post incites only a temporary interest from both parties, one curious and the other bolstered by slight delight, perhaps Crushbridge is just another symptom of Cambridge’s casual approach to relationships. A quick fix of wholesome amour, with minimal investment and minimal consequence for everyone involved. Lovely.

Even so, in a town where everyone’s lives seem to be dominated by personal interests and private worries, there certainly is something a little bit lovely in the idea of one stranger generously taking the time and effort to acknowledge another. Whilst the appeal of receiving a Crushbridge is rather obvious, the appeal of writing one is another thing entirely.

“These little love letters are the virtual vestiges of a form of courtship that many would have thought were long forgotten”

It may be mere cynicism on my part that sees only the superficial and the kitsch, failing to consider the potential for the good and the true in these little Facebook confessions of ardour. The intentions of their authors are likely as varied as their contents, some testing the water in the hopes of eventually revealing a long-concealed infatuation, others just hoping to compliment a passing stranger on a particularly funky ensemble, and maybe even a few pursuing real relationships.

We ought to acknowledge all the anonymous romantics of Cambridge, wish them luck and thank them for their kindness and observance. They do the hard work of making this city feel a little less like a sea of unrelated and uninterested islands, and more a network of interconnected human beings.

The mere existence of Crushbridge seems to suggest not only that romance isn’t dead, but that there are plenty willing to provide it, and even more hoping to receive it.