There I was sitting alone at home and suddenly was confronted with this allegedly awesome experience I never had (a decade ago and in a parellel universe). Okay to tell the truth there were housemates at home and I did summon one to show off to - "How hot was I back at the turn of the century? Woo woo!"
Life is full of the things we do and the echo of things we have never done. Here was one I was never aware of. Somebody however had remembered this missed opportunity. And I can identify with them because I have felt this way too.
In my personal lexicon I distinguish between 'crush' and 'fancy'. I suspect it is a rather artificial distinction that serves to limit my behaviour but I will describe it nonetheless.
A fancy is an attraction that I may want to explore in some circumstances but am otherwise content to let lie dormant as part of a friendship. It can be fun to ponder but otherwise I will just sit back and admire.
A crush is different - it seems important and fills much spare thinking time. I feel a compulsion to do or say something but this clashes with inhibitions that curb action.
My last experience of the classic "secret crush never acted on" was in 2006. The most I managed to do was ask the subject to a movie and phrased it as if it was just an act of friendship (she politely declined). Within a few weeks the crush was forcibly pulverized by another friend jumping me!
Must we ambush someone and brazenly entice them into bed in order to get closer? It seems that if you desire a wall-flower (such as I was) that is what you need to do. In the realm of expressing and exploring attraction I have been a part of the problem. My reserved manner has fostered both overtures shrouded as gestures of friendship (so as to ensure a safe response) and blatant "clubbing and dragging back to the cave" moves (which ensure I pay attention and have to think quick). Both can be problematic.
The former case allows the target to be oblivious and as a result rewarding experiences may never happen. The latter may work but is frustrating for all involved - the proactive one has to do "all the work" and the responsive one may feel as if they lack volition in the face of things "just happening all of a sudden".
Happily in my more recent life I have gotten better at following inclinations and curbing inhibitions. As a result more of my experiences have been characterized by an interaction of equals in which it is difficult to say exactly who started what. This has been liberating but communication can still be a challenge. I wonder what the happy medium is between blatent moves and sly hints.
There can be an atmosphere in which it is okay to say "hey you are interesting - take that in any way you wish" and likewise okay to say "that is flattering but I prefer things as they are". The trick is knowing that among friends there is a commitment to consider what sort of behaviour works best for one another and modify communication accordingly. Nothing is so scary once you can rely on that. And if so then talking in the here-and-now becomes more attractive than anonymous comments displaced in space and time.