Cohen: Stop saying you want a relationship

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Julia Cohen, Columnist

Many of us began Winter Quarter with high hopes. New schedules. New sorority and fraternity pledge classes. New excuses to go to Fran’s Cafe and order a milkshake at 1:55 a.m. The beginning of each quarter brings so much potential, and as Winter Quarter drags along, much of that potential may seem unrealized. One part of that is the potential for new romantic relationships.

I cannot begin to count the amount of times I’ve heard from people of all different genders and sexual orientations that they want a significant other. This isn’t just a Northwestern thing — in a survey done by New York University sociologist Paula England looking at 21 colleges and universities, 61 percent of men and 68 percent of women want their hook-ups to turn into something more.

Now, if you really like someone, that’s awesome. Go for it. But the next time you’re daydreaming about wanting a boyfriend or girlfriend in general, stop and ask yourself a question: Who is it you want to be in a relationship with? If you don’t have the answer to this question, then you don’t want a relationship. You want something else that you think being in a relationship is going to give you.

If you couldn’t answer the “who” question, then you are probably thinking of some imaginary, ideal relationship figure thing that doesn’t actually exist. But people aren’t imaginary ideal relationship figure things. They are just like you: lovely flawed human beings. If you put the idea of a significant other on a pedestal, then you’re always going to be disappointed.

First, if you’re pulling at strings to find a boyfriend or girlfriend, you’re probably going to end up settling. There is a huge difference between a person and the right person. The right person is going to find you when you are able to be your most natural, authentic self. But if you’re hung up on finding a boyfriend or girlfriend, you’re probably not your natural, authentic self. You’re trying and pushing to get someone to be attracted to you, and all that leaves you is feeling forced and fake.

Second, if you do find someone who just helps to fill the void of being single, you’re only going to be disappointed. They aren’t going to give you what you want because they’re probably not the person for you. What you want doesn’t even come from the right person; what you want comes from deep within you.

This gets to the important part: Why people say they want relationships. I’ve heard a few answers from friends: They want companionship, they want the security of someone always being there, they want to feel loved. But companionship, security and love aren’t things that come automatically in a relationship. They take time to build and the right person to build it with. More importantly, all of these wants don’t trace back to another person — they go back to the problems that you may see in yourself.

People want companionship because they feel alone or like they need someone to boost them up. If you want the security of a relationship, odds are it’s because you don’t feel secure in your non-romantic relationships now. Being in a relationship is never going to solve any of these problems because they are problems that you have to work out within yourself and your other interpersonal relationships.

The next time you’re stuck in your room and there’s three feet of snow outside and you just want someone to “Netflix and chill” with, don’t sit and wish for someone to come along. Don’t feel like there’s something wrong with you to be sad about, because there isn’t. There is something wrong with forcing a facade to find love. You are so lucky in so many ways: You’re here, at NU, with a roof over your head and an incredible education. You are not #foreveralone. You are forever with yourself, and that is the relationship you should be nurturing.

Julia Cohen is a SESP sophomore. She can be reached at [email protected]. If you would like to respond publicly to this column, send a Letter to the Editor to [email protected].

The views expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect the views of all staff members of The Daily Northwestern.