Opinion | When it comes to love, focus on yourself over society

By Ashanti McLaurin, For The Pitt News

Do you find yourself being the third wheel on your friends’ dates? Do you find yourself watching rom-coms on Valentine’s Day? Do you find dating apps to be unbeneficial?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, I promise it’s okay. It took me a while to grasp this idea, but it is totally normal — you are not a loser.

Movie plots dramatize how to get into a relationship — the main character likes their crush, asks them out on a date, confesses their love and then they become a couple — right? Well, things aren’t always so easy in real life. I’m not desperate to find a significant other and everyone tells me that the time will come when it comes, but when the people back home ask where’s your significant other every FaceTime call, it starts to add pressure to join the dating scene.

A Washington Post article, “It’s not just you: New data shows more than half of young people in America don’t have a romantic partner,” describes how people would like to find the love of their lives, but do not for numerous reasons. Just over half of Americans between the ages of 18 and 34 said they do not have a steady romantic partner. It is an old tall tale for people to be married with children by the age of 30. The world is evolving and people are breaking the stereotypes and finding love for themselves on their own time. Never being in a relationship can seem unusual and sad — but actually, it is not.

Everyone has reasons for not being in a relationship. Age is a factor to make you feel pressure to rush into a relationship. According to Pew Research, singles are younger on average. The median age of single adults who have never been in a relationship is 24, compared to 35 among those who have been in a relationship. Most single people either choose to be single or are not actively seeking a relationship or dates, instead focusing on their career, friends and family. It can feel like time is ticking away when you are single and older, but you have all the time in the world to choose someone — taking your time to figure out your wants and needs.

Social media, family and friends can add pressure to people who have never been in a relationship. Seeing celebrities post their significant other or listening to songs about heartbreak can take a toll on someone who has never shared their love romantically with another person. I have a playlist called “in my feelings of a non-existent relationship” — trust me, I know the feeling. Family and friends can invade your personal life trying to figure out when the love of your life will be coming home for Thanksgiving dinner or your friend’s birthday party.

I’m an extremely hopeless romantic who is still waiting for Prince Charming to knock on the front door or bump into me at the coffee shop — I blame this on my younger self’s addiction to reading hours of fanfiction. But those fanfiction fantasies have been replaced with life’s reality. Being 20 years old for four months now has me overthinking in the love department. People I went to high school with either have a child, are engaged or are going on dates. Cheerleading and academics were my main focuses during my middle and high school years and have continued to be throughout college. I told myself the reason I’m single is because I am too busy to try and date. Being single has been fine so far, but the older I get, the more I have realized how nice it would be to build a relationship with someone who has similar interests, morals and values.

It’s okay to take a lot of time to find the right person — it doesn’t mean you’ll be alone forever. Whether you have set standards, had crushes but never told them or are scared of commitment  — as I am — you’re smart for trying to look out for the good and bad within people using the relationships around you and figuring out your likes and dislikes.

And it’s okay if you have never been in a relationship. Just be you, let time run its course and don’t let society boss around your love life. 

Ashanti McLaurin primarily writes about Black culture, human injustices and gives life advice. Write to her at [email protected].