Being in a monogamous long-term relationship (including marriage) is something highly valued in our culture and has become a sort of prized status symbol. If you have “achieved” it, then somehow your life is “better” than someone who is single, or in a non-traditional relationship.
When you scroll through your Instagram feed, people are constantly posting about what they are doing with their significant other, pretending that everything is always happy and ”perfect” (when things may not be). There is a lot of social media pressure, with hashtags like #relationshipgoals, which can make you question if your relationship is “good enough” to brag about online.
When did relationships become a competition?
And why is someone only eligible to compete to be the “happiest” person on Social Media if they are in a relationship? Relationships are not a brass ring, or a trophy. They’re grit and tears, beauty and pain, ups and downs, ebbs and flows.
But it’s not just online that you may run into relationship grenades.
Whenever you meet new people, one of the getting to know you questions will inevitably be -- are you dating anyone? Having to answer the question can make you uncomfortable, or create awkward situations for a myriad of reasons.
Instead of competing with others or trying to outshine someone else’s glow, keep these thoughts in mind. Here are five reasons why relationship goals can be dangerous, and being in a relationship is not a competition.
Not all relationships are healthy relationships:
Codependent relationships -- your entire life is about your relationship and you do not have a separate identity. You feel completely responsible for their feelings and cannot live without them. This relationship looks great on social media because you are always together.
Abusive relationships -- you post about how your significant other does something romantic for you, but behind closed doors they mistreat you. Emotional and/or physical abuse is too high of a price to pay to be in a relationship. A big romantic gesture shown on Instagram may be covering up a recent incident of abuse.
Not all relationships look the same:
Non-monogamous relationships -- not everyone has a partner who is everything: their one true love, their only passionate lover, etc. Non-monogamous and polyamorous relationships have different boundaries around love and commitment. And they shouldn’t be defined by society’s perception of them.
Don’t assume all single people want to be in a relationship:
Asexuality -- like any sexuality, it is not a CHOICE. People who are asexual may want to be in a romantic relationship, or they may not, or they may want to have only platonic friendships.
Single by choice-- some people choose to never date, even though they have sex or want to have physical interactions with other people. Some intentionally single folks have been there, done that with relationships and don’t have a desire to be in a relationship again in the future.
The more pressure you put on yourself to be in a relationship, or have your relationships look a certain way, the worse you can feel. Spending time creating this facade can also distract from the relationship whether it's with your partner or yourself. You don’t have to focus on your relationship status as the primary way to feel good about yourself, it is NOT a defining factor.
Focus on self love, evolving (whether alone or together with your partner), and growing into a healthy, loving, stable relationship-- or don’t -- that’s ok, too. The relationship you have with yourself is most important, and should be nurtured.
Stay with us as we explore non-traditional relationships, nonconformity and struggles through a five part series. This journey will elaborate on the five points above: codependent and abusive relationships, non-monogamous unions, asexuality and single by choice.