BY: CHARLOTTE LEFAVE
The idea of True Love is infused into everything girls are exposed to growing up.
It’s a fantasy we’re born into. As soon as you hit puberty, love becomes a realistic goal you should be striving for, like getting a stable job or travelling the world. Relationships are portrayed as some kind of magical snap of the fingers, like something that will click into place when you’re old enough and take your life to the next level.
This makes dating seem like something effortless and easy, something that can be just stumbled into while walking down the street or as simple as two pairs of eyes meeting across a crowded room. From day one, young women are exposed to huge quantities of romantic suggestion that’s being funneled into their heads along with the promise that one day they’ll get to grow up and join the brilliant and exciting world of dating… if they deserve it.
Disney Princesses, cartoons, romance novels, they all point towards the same goals: love and marriage. Girls grow up dreaming of ‘love at first sight’ and being told to always keep an eye out for the infamous “One.” The person who will step in to pull them into the glamorous world of flirting and dalliance, excitement and passion; the one that will make their lives so much more worthwhile than they are now. So instead of prepping girls for important things like how to be confident in their chosen skill-set or how to manage themselves in a business environment, our culture emphasizes instead priority #1: finding a partner.
We spend our early lives prepping for this magical moment when we’ll be swept off our feet by some perfect man, instead of being taught the reality that relationships are actually hard work and something that takes a lot of time to build up and develop. The only thing that is seen ‘at first sight’ is the outer appearance, which boils down to absolutely nothing of worth in the long run. Kids are dating now before they even understand what an actual relationship looks like, much less a healthy one that provides a foundation of mutual support and respect. When a thirteen-year-old girl tells you about her new boyfriend, or tells you why she’s upset that she doesn’t have one yet, it seems very concerning that she’s even thinking about that yet.
Young people are looking for a partnership before they even have a grasp on who they are as an individual or what they want out of life. Relationships instead become a status symbol that says: ‘I’m desirable and worthy of interest’, almost like a club where you’re either in or out. Dating is so ingrained in our culture that it’s one of the first things we hear from relatives at family reunions: it’s either ‘how’s school?’ or ‘do you have a boyfriend/girlfriend yet?,’ neither of which you want to answer while away on holiday.
Instead of asking about our plans or things we are really passionate about or excited for, our love lives get prodded and examined for enough value. Then the older we get, the more the pressure around us builds and the insecurities start to bubble up and make us question whether we deserve something as fantastic as love, which everyone else seems to have.
If you’re in your late teens and still single, your grandma tsks. If you’re single in your twenties, your friends start sympathetically patting you on the back and saying things like ‘Don’t worry, you’ll find someone soon!” And Lord have mercy if you’re single in your thirties. The point is we exaggerate the need to be attached to someone else way too intensely. Our culture creates the stereotype of ‘boy-crazy’ teens to shame and criticize them for doing exactly what they’ve been brought up to do: find someone who’ll love them and fulfill their lives. This leaves girls questioning whether or not they are good enough to be worthy of love or whether their bodies are attractive enough to be acceptable, which leads to a whole host of problems of self-worth later on.
Phrases like “you complete me” should be burned in a fire. The only one that should be completing you is yourself, and no one else should be providing you with that self-validation. It is way unhealthier to have a relationship where one person is totally dependent on the other than for a person to be happily single and working on their own goals. If you’re constantly looking for someone to fill in the gaps that you think make you an incomplete person, you are both putting too much pressure on yourself to find someone perfect, and also putting too much responsibility on the person that you’re dating to match up to that expectation. This can lead to a whole bunch of issues like turning your significant other into your pet project or settling for someone undeserving of you because you think you don’t deserve to be cherished and respected. The rush to find Mr. Right to appease your family and friends could get you into some situations that aren’t ideal.
The mad rush to get into a relationship could be severely jeopardizing chances of being in a partnership that is both beneficial and potentially long-term, and instead landing people in a place they never wanted to be in. There is no Prince Charming waiting in the real world, and we should stop teaching young girls that there is one. We’re all really just people who have problems and personalities and struggles that we have to work through and solve ourselves. So take a minute to remind yourself who you are and what exactly you want, as well as the real reasons you are trying to get into a relationship. Don’t be afraid to take some time to yourself and just enjoy the point you’re at in your life. You’ve got this.