STUDENT AND THE CITY: When did we stop looking for the relationships we deserve?

Student and the City is a column dedicated to asking the big questions that all college-aged students are asking. It will explore different social concepts within the younger generations regarding relationships, lifestyle, social media and more. 

She sits on her bed in the middle of the night with her makeup on. She loses hope––and a little self-confidence––with every passing minute that he’ll text her he’s on his way. He was the one who made the plans, obviously there must be a good reason he went missing in action.
She feels her heart in her throat and she is aware of every breath as she rereads his messages and plays their last interactions in her head––while she is not in his thoughts at all. This feeling is not unfamiliar to her.
She makes excuses for him, except, she knows in the back of her mind that they are not true because he has done this before. And he’s not the only one. Exes from her past have let her wait for them without an ounce of consideration for her time or her feelings. But she waits for him because it has to be different this time. If she loses hope that there might be a person out there who won’t make her feel this way, then what does she have?
While it is pathetic to admit, I know I am not alone in saying I have been this girl. I have embarrassingly waited for someone to treat me the way I deserved and measured my worth through another’s validation.
Why do we let potential partners make us feel sad? Why do we give our energy and our time to people who do not value it? Why do we allow neglect and abandonment into our lives when we give nothing but kindness and love?
The question is: When did we stop looking for the relationships we deserve?
In college and into our early twenties, it seems as if we have normalized the low expectation of doing the bare minimum. When dating, we rarely expect our partners to go out of their way for us. Anything beyond showing up for plans, responding to a message or staying loyal to one another is seen as extra. Buy them flowers or walk them to their door…they might just tell their friends you are “one of the good ones.”
We also tolerate tendencies that fall below the minimum amount of effort you should put into a relationship. When they make you feel unimportant to them or make you question your own worth, we are often quick to forgive and forget. Why don’t we walk away? Is it because we are giving them room to mature and learn as they grow up? Or is it really because we truly don’t believe there is anyone out there that would treat us better? Are we so afraid to be alone?
It almost seems like we chase the people who are distant. We idolize the person that is hard to get and treat them as if they were our partner. Licensed clinical psychologist and New York Times bestselling author Alexandra Solomon told Elite Daily that healthy relationships depend on an equal amount of care and effort.
“I think part of modern dating culture is that the person who cares less has the upper hand, and I think frankly that’s a symptom of an unhealthy culture, to feel like you derive power from caring less,” said Solomon.
By staying with the people who treat us poorly, we show them and the rest of the singles in our generation that it is OK to continue to do so. When you recognize what was good enough is not enough for you anymore, and toxic patterns are not changing, you need to be able to walk away. You need to be confident in the fact that you will be OK alone. You are better alone than badly accompanied.
That being said, walking away is easier said than done. It is hard to destroy a future you once imagined with someone. What is easy is getting stuck in a negative loop of repeated behavior and the desire for reassurance. It is easy to give someone the benefit of the doubt instead of three strikes and you’re out.
If you think about it, it is ridiculous that we cling to young relationships as if rushing to the finish line. You have time to look for the relationship you deserve, despite societal expectations to follow the specific timeline laid out for you. Believe it or not, your life’s purpose is not to find a partner. A teammate is a great addition to a life you build for yourself––with your own dreams, goals and accomplishments. A relationship should only add to your happiness and take the weight off your shoulders.
You deserve someone who is sure about you. If you’re asking yourself, “Do they like me?”––then I am sorry to tell you, they don’t like you the way you like them. You deserve to feel like you are easy to love, and that it is a privilege to be able to love you. You deserve a teammate who makes your problems their problems and allows you to do the same for them. You deserve someone whose heart breaks at the thought of hurting you.
Maybe I’m a hopeless romantic, but I believe that someday, you will be someone’s best thing. You will find someone who can love you the way you need to be loved. Until that day comes, stop settling for poor college relationships and become the person you want to be, alone.