There are countless articles on the internet about dating in the 21st century. Whether they’re entertaining Buzzfeed lists or more serious pieces from Huffington Post, they all point out the same thing: dating is hard. It makes sense, people are complex individuals so finding one individual to connect with on multiple levels and topics can’t be the easiest thing in the world. However, dating seems to be getting stranger the older I get.
I recently started dating someone. In 2014, part of having a new relationship means you change your Facebook relationship status. Now, I know what you’re thinking, you don’t have to put your relationship status online. It’s something I like to do though. Not only is Facebook my way of keeping in touch with a wide range of friends all over the world (high school friends, college friends, study abroad friends, etc.), it also just feels weird to leave my relationship status as Single. Not changing it feels like I’m hiding the relationship from people in my life.
My boyfriend, on the other hand, does not feel this way. His relationship status has changed, but he hates how Facebook allows people to easily stalk strangers. So instead of being in a relationship with each other on Facebook, both of our pages just show that we’re no longer single. That way no one’s distant cousin can browse our old high school pictures, view all our life events, or anything like that. I’m fine with this scenario, but it has made for some interesting conversations with my friends.
A few days ago one of my coworkers pointed out how odd it was that people kept liking my relationship status on Facebook. “Don’t get me wrong,” he said, “I’m happy for you, but I don’t know who this guy is.” Basically, why are people liking something that for all they know could be an awful situation?
There is an argument that my friends know me well enough to know I wouldn’t settle for a bad relationship. Ever since that conversation though, I can’t stop thinking about how we view being in a relationship. Women no longer need to be married to support themselves, so why has being in a relationship remained a status symbol? Why are we willingly participating in a system that promotes unhappy or even abusive relationships all for the sake of saying we aren’t “alone?”
I put the word “alone” in quotes because being single doesn’t mean you’re alone. You can still have friends and family even though you’re single. However, being in a romantic relationship with the wrong person can put you in danger. According to The National Domestic Violence Hotline‘s website, “on average, 24 people per minute are victims of rape, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner in the United States — more than 12 million women and men over the course of a year.”
Don’t get me wrong, there are people who have wonderful, happy relationships that other people see and think “I would like that.” There’s nothing wrong with wanting a happy relationship. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to settle down with someone and have a family. There is something wrong with wanting a relationship without bothering to worry about the actual human being you’ll be romantically linked. At the very least, putting so much emphasis on having a relationship rather than being happy with someone you care about puts you at risk for an unhappy union. Don’t be that person. You can do so much better with your life.