Lately, you’ve been turning dramatically to your girlfriends and lamenting, “I just want to be loved—is that too much to ask?” Well, guess what, collegiettes: You are loved. You have wonderful friends, family and coworkers who think you are the bee’s knees, and, no, you don’t need a relationship right now.
The problem with feeling like you need a significant other is that it might cause you to settle. We pinpointed the signs that settling down isn’t actually what’s best for you right now.
1. You feel pressured to date
Maybe your friends’ relationships and your family’s pressing questions about your love life have gotten to your head. Maybe you feel expected to have a significant other, but it’s ultimately your decision, and nobody should have a say in it but you.
“As women, we should be aware of the choices we have and not shamed for making [these] choices,” says Neely Steinberg, a professional dating coach and author of Skin In the Game: Unleashing Your Inner Entrepreneur to Find Love. “There's so much to do if you don't want an SO, and college is a great time to branch out on your own, have fun times with friends [and] experience dating or even just hooking up.”
Alexa, a junior from Hunter College, says she feels lonely sometimes, but it usually doesn’t last. “I don't feel like I'm ready for a relationship, to be honest,” Alexa says. “I'm young, in college and kick-starting my career. I think this is a critical time to be highly invested in yourself before getting involved with other people. I always like to think the right one will hopefully come along when the timing is right.”
Besides, if you feel pressured to be in a relationship, you might find yourself settling for the wrong person, which is unfair for both of you. You should date when you’re ready, not when other people tell you to!
2. You feel lonely
College can get really lonely. When you’re having a bad day, it’s easy to imagine that having a caring significant other would help you get through difficult times.
“I’ve been single for four years now after a three-year relationship, and there are few times that I feel like I really want a boyfriend,” says Miranda, a senior at Winona State University. “It’s on a Sunday afternoon when I’m lounging and doing homework and wish I had someone just to lay around with. Or when I’m sitting by a fireplace and it’s snowing and I think it would just be so much more enjoyable with someone by my side.”
Like Miranda, many of us collegiettes sometimes wish we had a partner in order to feel less lonely – and that’s completely normal! “College women might [...] feel lonely and think the only way to alleviate that loneliness is by having a [partner],” Steinberg says. “Sure, you may feel less lonely if you are in a healthy, happy relationship, but I think it can be good to learn how to be alone and how to work through feelings of loneliness, how to sit in those feelings and know you can get through it.”
Thankfully, there are plenty of things you can do to feel better that don’t involve being in a relationship. “It's okay to feel lonely,” Steinberg says. “Make your life full with things you enjoy doing, lean on family and friends, sit alone in your loneliness. That can make you stronger.”
Miranda knows that she can always count on her besties to make her feel better. “My girlfriends usually snap me right out of the ‘I need a man’ mood,” she says. “You can laugh, watch movies and cuddle with your girls, so why even bother with the drama of dating when your best friends are more fun anyway?”
So if it’s one of those days, gather up a few of your closest friends, some of your favorite comedies and some movie snacks, and we guarantee you’ll feel better every single time.
3. You’re jealous of other people’s relationships
“I have made statements to my friends about cute couples showing a lot of PDA and how gross they are,” says Kasia, a senior at Villanova University. “Maybe it's a little bit of bitter singleness coming out.”
If a lot of people around you are coupled up, you might begin to feel left out. “Some women might see others with boyfriends and think that's what they should have,” Steinberg says. “A lot of times in college we look at our peers and see what they're doing and what they have and feel we need to have or be doing the same thing to fit in.” However, just because many of your friends have significant others doesn’t mean you need to join them right this instant!
“If it seems as if all of your friends are paired up two by two, it is time to expand your circle,” says Jodi RR Smith, president and owner of Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting. “Follow your interests and passions. This has the dual benefit of satisfying yourself and if there is a potential love interest, you will already know you have similar likes.”
Get out of your friendship comfort zone and hang out with other happy singles! This could mean reaching out to someone you haven’t talked to in a while or joining a club on campus that caters to your interests, for example.
4. You need validation
As collegiettes, we’re constantly trying to find and build who we are. Sometimes we feel like we’re doing it all wrong, which can lead us to seek others’ approval.
“Another reason [to want a relationship] is for validation,” Steinberg says. “Women may think they need a guy, a boyfriend to validate who they are. That sort of external validation is fleeting; at the end of the day, you need to find validation from within yourself.”
If you think you want a relationship to boost your self-esteem, it could be time to reevaluate your motivations. Work for the things you want, be proud of your accomplishments and remember that it’s okay to feel a little lost from time to time!
5. Your hormones are going crazy
According to Marla Martenson, a professional matchmaker, author and speaker, “college women might feel that they need a significant other because their hormones are turned on high! Women are extremely fertile at this age, and nature is simply nudging them along…”
Your hormones can influence you and make you place more importance on being in a relationship than you normally would.
If you haven’t found the right person, you shouldn’t feel pressured to be in a relationship. “Just realize that you have your whole life ahead of you and there are so many amazing people out there,” Martenson says. “There really is no rush, so don’t settle. Make sure that your self-esteem is high by continuing to learn new things and taking care of your body, mind and spirit. When you know your own value, you won’t settle!”
A big part of not settling is to know your self-worth as well as what you are looking for in a partner. “If you're spending time reflecting on your social experiences and the social experiences of those around you, you'll start to get an idea of what's important to you in a romantic partner,” Steinberg says. “Self-awareness is the key in life, because it empowers you to make conscious choices. So when you're self-aware about who you are, your thoughts/beliefs and what really matters to you, you'll feel less of a need to ‘settle.’”
If you often find yourself thinking you need an SO, remind yourself of all the great things in your life. You’ll soon realize that you are great by yourself and you don’t need someone else in your life to prove it. When the time is right and it’s what you want, you will find the perfect relationship for you!