Dating: Love & Relationships in the Age of "Doing Me."

Independence is something I pride myself on always having. I've never let lack of company stop me from doing something I enjoy. If I want to go to a show, or to dinner, or do an activity I'm not going to let the fact that no one else wants to, or is available to accompany me stop me from going. In fact I quite like going to dinner or shows alone. I tend to prefer it.

I'd say I spend a good 50% or more of my day alone and although some may find that strange, I find it very normal -- if not healthy. You're born alone and then you die alone. Why not spend time with yourself and get used to and comfortable with your own company? At the end of the day you is all you have. 

I feel as though this generation has embraced independence, self-love and personal growth extremely well, we have learnt to put ourselves first and to accept being single and embraced the "you-do-you" attitude, but it's gotten to the extent that we don't know how to formulate healthy romantic relationships.

And believe me when I say I'm not the pot calling the kettle black: I am guilty of such as well. In a time where we take building ourselves and setting goals and working towards them so importantly, it's hard to carve time out of our day-to-day lives to make space for other human beings, especially since there's no guarantee that it will ever amount to anything. 

There is a lot of risk in putting yourself out there. It takes bravery and effort and room for embarrassment and rejection, things that we are not all particularly comfortable with. I for instance am instantly nauseous when I think about first dates. There's awkward conversation and stereotypical getting-to-know-each-other questions and the impending 'is this actually a date?' question looming over you the whole time and then there's a lot of uncertainty and room for rejection. 

It's no wonder that we choose casual hook-ups and friends-with-benefits over an actual relationship. They sound so much easier right? Wrong. You're still putting yourself out there, just different parts of yourself. And the risk factor is still high, if not higher.

We've seemed to have convinced ourselves that we don't ever have to be in committed relationships. I'm not saying we should all run out and get married tomorrow or stop having casual sex. What I'm trying to say is we seem to be having some commitment issues. Especially when we actually want to commit. Neither parties want to admit to liking the other, we don't want to seem too attached or needy or in love, or even like we care about this person.

I've seen too many relationships fail because neither party was honest about their feelings out of fear of the other person leaving them, or thinking of them as being too clingy or gushy. The words "love" and "commitment" and even "relationships" now have negative connotations. The lonely hearts club is now the cool club and any signs of love and affection is seen as weak and mushy. 

What?

I'm not asking for grandiose displays of affections -- no ones life is a John Cusack movie and we don't need the whole world knowing that we love this person, but we at least need to let them know. The time we are living in is so wonderful in the fact that a lot of our generation is big on acceptance and embracing difference. We live in such a loving time, so why can't we translate all the platonic love we have for each other into the romantic love we have for our significant others?

We don't have to sing "I LOVE YOU, I LOVE YOU, I LOVE YOU" day in and day out, we just need to tell them once, maybe twice or just at all. Communication is the key to all healthy relationships, something we all know or learn but seem to always forget or chose to ignore. Discomfort and fear aside we need to be able to tell the person we are with, or want to be with, what's up. 

Rejection is terrifying. Break-ups are uncomfortable. Being alone or lonely sucks. Memories of past relationships never fade. BUT it's all worth it in the end. Every relationship is practice and preparation for the next and it's okay to put yourself out there. It's okay to be vulnerable. IT DOES NOT MAKE YOU WEAK. This is something that's been said to me and needs to be said to more people. We need to be constantly reminded of this.

We all have the one person and relationship -- for some of us we've had many or haven't had any yet, but we all have or will have that one that hurt us really badly. But we will recover, we will move on, we will love again, we will be fine without them, there will be more--good and bad--and there will be better. We need to know this, hear this and then tell it to ourselves 1000 times until we listen.

Love is such a beautiful thing so why deprive ourselves of all the euphoria it brings? You can be in a relationship and still be "doing you." That is--in my opinion--the core of a great relationship: maintaining your independence. It should not be 'our lives' it should be your life and their life coming together. But with each of you having your own separate lives. 

Think of it as a Venn Diagram (I know Math reference EW, I'm sorry), you over-lap in the middle but are still independent, different, circles. Because when all your life becomes is life with them, ending the relationships means starting a whole new life and finding the parts of yourself that you lost in the process. And then comes all the fun: self-loathing, self-hatred, regret, trust issues and extreme feelings of loneliness and incompleteness. 

So by all means do you boo boo but remember doing you doesn't mean you can't be in a healthy, happy and committed relationship. You don't have to run away from it. If it's what you want, have it. Have your damn cake and eat it too. You may regret it afterwards but if the cake is good, treat it right, enjoy it while it lasts and make sure you tell it how much you love it. 

Multicultural Disorder: African & American but not African-American

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