Do you ever catch yourself silently judging a couple sitting on a blanket between the dorms? Do you ever pause for a moment and realize that, while “you wouldn’t ever do that if you were dating someone,” in reality you are a bit envious you’re not the one sitting out there with your significant other?
Here’s the deal. Movies and books and all sorts of media have glorified the image of being in these fantastical relationships, turning the idea of dating someone into the direct path to happiness and comfort. And, yes, while relationships—when healthy—can be beautiful and incredibly fun, obsessing over obtaining one is quite the opposite.
Take it from me. I used to not be able to go anywhere without the silent hope that maybe the love of my life would be there. That guy in the front row of my class who I have never spoken a word to but have created an entire internal narrative around? He could be the one.
What I’ve come to learn is that when we find ourselves obsessed with finding “the one,” the expectations we have of others will cloud any red flags or accurate judgements that are yet to be made. Catch yourself if you find that you are catering your interests to the person you’re trying to impress. If you have to be anyone except who you know yourself to be in order to earn the attention of someone else, you’re seeking the wrong person.
This isn’t to say that some relationships aren’t there for you to learn and grow, or that you should avoid relationships at all costs. However, making sure your priorities are in line will lead you to the real, fulfilling connections that we actually crave as human beings.
When you’re really single, there is no better time to dive into your own passions, your own dreams and your own desires for your life. What do you want for you? If you could have it your way, where would you be? Who would you be with, platonically? And what would you be doing?
Picture it like this: When you’re single, it’s like you’re going for a run. You get to set your own pace. If you push yourself too hard to catch up with someone else, you’re going to burn out. If you slow down to match their pace, you’ll be less efficient than you could be otherwise. However, if you keep your own pace and happen to run into someone who is able to run alongside you without slowing down or speeding up, you can healthily grow together.
We’re in college. This is where many of us choose our trail, find which shoes work best and set our pace for the run of life. If you spend too much time wondering whether or not so-and-so is thinking of you as much as you’re thinking of them, get your priorities in check. Explore all of the opportunities and trailheads that life has to offer, and stop trying to keep up with someone on a path that you don’t even really want to be on.