In a culture that obsesses about relationships — who’s seeing who, who said what about who, et cetera — it is easy to get swept up in the idea that if you’re not pursuing one, you’re lacking something essential to your life. However, I want to challenge this belief with living proof that you can find two halves of a whole in yourself! I won’t lie to you or come up with some cheesy quote that your mom has told you a million times before — you won’t get any of that “you’re single because you’re strong enough to wait for what you deserve” crap from me. Not that any of that isn’t true, but it simply does not make anyone feel better. Nobody wants to be told that they’re better off alone, especially if they’re feeling isolated and hurt.
I myself have waged this war for far too long. I have struggled with doubts and fears about ending up alone, and I’m only 21. Why must we be in a relationship or be “talking to someone” in order to feel attractive, valuable and loved? This is an unhealthy approach that only leads to more heartache down the road. The validation we all clandestinely seek from others in our world will never be able to truly make us feel complete, unless we do so ourselves. We must learn to choose ourselves over what today’s culture says about us and what we should be doing.
If you turn on the radio or pull up Spotify’s Top 50 charts, it becomes glaringly apparent that sex sells. While vulgar lyrics containing explicit language obviously supports this fact, it is the more subtle depictions of modern-day romance that worry me. Young kids and teenagers grow up listening to the lyrics of “Love Story” by Taylor Swift and “Never be the Same” by Camila Cabello. As they grow, their tastes grow with them, eventually tuning into songs such as “I Fall Apart” by Post Malone and “Him & I” by G-Eazy featuring Halsey. These subtle undertones of perfect romance and dependency can develop dangerous assumptions in the minds of young boys and girls, eventually morphing into an extremely high and unrealistic expectation of how their significant other will fit into their life. Starting with songs of sweet, idealistic romance can turn into a slippery slope when adolescents begin to believe that they will “Never be the Same” when they inevitably undergo their first few break-ups.
I find fault in the way these songs paint a picture of relationships. Singing words like “You’re all I need” and “We got that love, the crazy kind / I am his and he is mine” is cause for concern. I frequently catch myself putting too much pressure on my relationships, as if that is a source of life and stability for me. The interdependence and obsession with one another that this culture glorifies is a red flag — an unhealthy combination that will only result in pain and regret, not love and selflessness.
That’s not to say I don’t jam to these songs occasionally! But I am careful to prevent the subliminal messaging within these siren songs from dragging me down to the depths. It is crucial that this generation and all that follow it learn to date themselves. Figure out what you like, what makes you tick and what you want to improve upon. This should be a season of life that is looked forward to, for self-exploratory purposes and a weightlessness and freedom that will never be possessed again. Those that do not value this period do so for lack of self-worth, because they cannot see the benefit of spending time with oneself. I promise you, I have been on both sides of this crazy little thing called love and taking the time for yourself is the best gift you can give yourself. A better relationship with yourself equals better relationships with others. So take yourself out to dinner, buy yourself a slice of cheesecake, settle down with a good book. You deserve a date night that won’t disappoint.