The Pressure of ‘Romantic’ Relationships

AI art generated teenage school setting (Credit: Easy-Peasy.AI)
AI art generated teenage school setting (Credit: Easy-Peasy.AI)

Since middle school, I have always been fascinated by the concept of love. I spent most of my time indulging in intimate movies and romantic novels just to get a feel of what it would be like for me when the time came. As I fell more into the rabbit hole of romance, I found my friends getting involved in their relationships, living the life I watched and read so much about. I watched in jealousy as they shared their first kiss or roamed the halls hand-in-hand. The pressure was on. I didn’t want to be the only one in school with no experience of young dating life. 

In the end, dating led me to the most complicated, stressful, and painful consequence of my life.

I’m sure many may agree that society puts a lot of pressure on teenagers and what they should be doing at this age. Dating was probably one of the biggest pressures I had faced. I wanted to be like everyone else so badly, but all it did was cause me a lot of problems. My young dating experiences led to complicated feelings of heartbreak and insecurity. I was only twelve years old!

Don’t get me wrong, it’s pretty natural for us to long for that kind of intimacy with someone else, especially when we were middle schoolers. Our hormones were going through the roof and we were going girl or boy crazy! It seemed like the only possible solution was to do as the society had asked of us: go all in. 

However, we were kids searching for something so mature. 

Many of us – I know I did – got ourselves into risky situations because we labeled our identity on someone else. Everything they liked, we liked. Everything they wanted to try, we wanted to try. The people they hated, we hated. That isn’t necessarily our fault either. We were, and still are, going through identity development, and getting ourselves involved in a relationship complicated all of that development. 

High school came with even more pressure. I overheard conversations of people showing their love in more mature actions than holding hands and simple kisses. People were getting involved in cheating scandals, love triangles, and emotionally draining relationships. Girls were sitting outside of their classroom crying and guys were trying their best to keep their emotions intact. 

All of what I was witnessing sparked why I decided to write this article. We’re still kids searching for something or that someone. We still give our all to someone because we grew up giving our identity to every romantic partner we ever had. But I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to feel that kind of pressure anymore. It’s okay to not know who you are without someone else, and being single is your chance to experience that. It took me a long time to realize that. We’re still just kids learning and growing. Sure, this may sound like the cliche saying, “Love yourself first before you love someone else,” but what they say is true.

 You don’t need the pressure of trying to figure someone else out when you haven’t even figured yourself out. 

But Brooklyn, how do I get myself out of this cycle?

Luckily, you’ve already done the first step. If you’re asking the question of how to fix it, you are admitting to yourself that there is a problem. However, the next step is where people begin to disagree. 

The truth is, you have to focus on yourself. Many people don’t like receiving this answer, but I think it’s just because it can be confusing to understand how to do something you aren’t prepared for. No one is prepared for this! Even I wasn’t! But I knew that if I kept basing my identity and values on what my ex’s preferred then I would completely lose sight of myself. That isn’t what I want for you. We all deserve a chance to live OUR lives and not live through someone else. 

Instead of worrying about how you can make others believe you’re attractive, decide how you can make yourself feel attractive. Instead of waiting around for a romantic gesture, take yourself out on a date. Instead of worrying about how others may judge you for being alone, embrace it. Focus on your grades, focus on your family, focus on your friends, and focus on your number one priority: you. 

I can’t give you a step-by-step guide on how to find yourself. This is something you must discover for yourself. As you slowly start to build a relationship with yourself, you’ll be happy to look back and know you won’t have to feel that load of pressure from relationships. I was so happy once I knew my worth, once I set boundaries, and once I knew the kind of person I was looking for. If you have a negative relationship with yourself, you’ll never be able to have a successful dating life. All you truly need is you.

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  • H

    Hanna Bryn GrassFeb 27, 2024 at 11:49 am

    Brooklyn, this article plucked my heartstrings and truly resonated with how I have experienced teenage romance, love, and self-doubt on various levels. I am so proud of you for sharing your insight on this topic, for despite its relevance, many are afraid to discuss it out of sensitivity. I admire your confidence and hope that others can realize how important the journey of finding yourself before relinquishing that part of you to another; it is so important. Wonderful job, I can’t wait to see what you write next!

    • B

      Brooklyn SuarezFeb 27, 2024 at 2:24 pm

      Thank you so much Hanna, that means so much.