For the past seven years, I have taken great interest in analyzing relationships, people, dynamics, etc. As a Sociology major, I have spent a great deal of time studying the manner and relationship between people and greater societies and subcultures. One thing of particular curiosity has been the way Millennials date and start relationships, and from observation to qualitative data collection, my findings have been substantially unfortunate and disheartening.
One main common trend I have observed repeatedly is the notion that many young adults are unable to be open and honest with prospective partners regarding their intentions. And no, this behavior isn’t specifically attached to one group, but rather a society of adults in their 20s and 30s as a whole. Growing up in an age of technology has its positives, don’t get me wrong. But I can’t help but wonder, has technology been the tool that has led to the downfall of humanity? I often ponder why people are okay with gaslighting, manipulating, deceiving, and providing false narratives to continue the cycle of hurt, betrayal, and ultimately bitterness. When all you’re doing is swiping left or right on a face, it takes out so much of the ability to have genuine human connection. Don’t gaslight your partner into sleeping with you. Don’t exploit someone’s emotional vulnerability for one night. You quite literally have no idea how much psychological damage you are perpetuating onto that person. And if you feel no remorse for your intentional actions, then you truly are a sick and disturbed individual and I feel pity for you. Having respect for someone’s boundaries is so imperative in this day and age for mutual growth and development.
Go to therapy. Get help in talking through your past traumas and growing as the healthiest version of you before getting into a relationship. If you refuse to admit that you need to dig yourself out of whatever broke you in the first place and fully process it, then you have no business being in the dating scene until you know yourself well enough that you won’t cause a chain reaction of emotional abuse. Your prospective partner is undeserving of your toxicity and all the insecure baggage you bring to the table. Tough love, but it’s true. When you meet someone new, take the mask off and be yourself. Be upfront and intentional about your positive and negative traits. But come on, for ethic’s sake, don’t paint a pretty picture to someone when that isn’t how you truly feel. If you want to be in a healthy relationship, if you want to date, if you want to maintain friendships, it is your duty to look within and be honest with yourself first and foremost.
And to those who have been caught in this trap, who have opened their hearts, vulnerabilities, and let their walls down to only feel like a fool, know this: as cliché as it sounds, it really is them and not you. You are worthy of open dialogue and honesty. They have unresolved trauma in their life, which has spiraled into this toxic and emotional immaturity that in turn they have projected onto you. Talk through your feelings. If not to a therapist, then a trusted friend. Your hurts and insecurities are valid; however, don’t allow them to define you. You deserve to feel heard, seen, valued, and cherished. You shouldn’t have to play their game if they are incapable of being straightforward with you. Process the betrayal and release it. Holding onto whatever pain you have accrued in any point of your life plays a major part in your ability to be a mentally sound and healthy adult. You have a responsibility to yourself to face whatever hurts you’ve been avoiding unpacking. It’s so easy to put off processing prior pain, but you owe it to yourself to do so. If keeping those walls and boundaries up is something your psyche needs to do right now as a defense mechanism and protection from further manipulation, then do so. But don’t stay in that unhealed place to rot and become a pessimistic and bitter abuser yourself. Lean on your friends; allow them to help you carry the weight of whatever melancholy emotion you’re feeling right now. It’s okay to ask for love and support from people who truly care about you. But whatever you do, don’t lose sight of who you are in the pursuit of finding love and attachment. Love yourself enough to walk away at the first red flag, not the 20th. Respect yourself enough not to tolerate any signs of contempt for your emotional needs or concerns. Be gentle with yourself, while at the same time being your fiercest advocate. You don’t have to prove your worth to anyone.