Relationships should not be your main priority, love yourself first

The Channels Opinion Pages | STAFF COLUMN

Serena Guentz, News Editor

Serena Guentz

Too many times I have seen people measure their self-worth and happiness based on their relationship with a significant other.

With the prevalence of dating apps and the societal idea that romantic love is one of the most important things in one’s life, it’s no surprise that many young, high school and college-aged people focus heavily on dating. 

If you look at the top recent movies, you’ll probably notice that romance is at least partly included in the plot of most of these movies, if not the entire story.

Sure, love and dating can be fun and fulfilling, but a partner should not be the main source of anyone’s happiness. 

I’ll admit, I’m still working on remembering this at times.

Just last year I was so wrapped up in the way a boy made me feel when I was with him that I neglected my own mental and emotional wellbeing. 

I would get so excited when I saw his name pop up on my phone with a new text message.

I was ignoring all the red flags. When I later found out that he had been leading me on, I was ripped back into reality and felt devastated. 

With this happening at the same time as some other challenges in my life, my mental health had fallen to the lowest it had been in years. For weeks I wondered what was wrong with me.

I’ve since realized that there is nothing wrong with me just because someone doesn’t feel the same way about me as I felt for them. I don’t need a romantic partner and there are much more important things in life.

But why do so many people have similar experiences?

In a type of self-esteem researchers call relationship-contingent self-esteem, the person places too much weight on a relationship and bases their self-worth and confidence on these romantic interactions. People who experience this “assume [their partner] gives meaning to their own life or protects them from terrible loneliness.” 

This might explain some people’s tendency to rely on a partner for their happiness and value. another explanation for why many young people feel the need to be in a relationship could be the emphasis of love in today’s popular culture, such as in movies, music and books. 

Many of the movies I watched all the time as a child involved the girl falling in love with the handsome prince or the shy girl completely changing herself in an attempt to win over the popular guy. Throughout my adolescence, I felt like I needed to find a boyfriend or else I would end up unhappy.

But that’s not true. I can still be happy and know I’m a great person without having a romantic relationship. There is so much more to a person than their significant other. Someone’s passions, their career, their love for family and friends and the way they treat others should contribute to the value of a person and how they view themselves, not their relationship status.

It may sound like I’m being cynical or completely bashing romance, but I think dating shouldn’t be a main priority, especially as a young adult. If someone comes along and I find a happy, healthy relationship, that’s awesome, but I’m not going to ignore all of my goals to search for love or belittle myself if someone doesn’t like me back.