In your early 20s, when your friend tells you that she is seeing someone new, instead of getting excited and asking her to spill the details, you beg her to be cautious.
And when you hear that your friend just got attached, instead of congratulations and well wishes, you ask if she is sure that he is the right person.
What happened? What changed us?
Disclaimer: I am no expert on love. However, I’ve been in and seen many failed relationships and could not help but noticing the following 5 similarities in every one of them that has slowly turned us into the guarded and jaded generation that we are today.
1. We are afraid of being hurt
At this point in your life, you’ve probably experienced one or two major heartbreaks. It hurt so much that you’ve sworn to yourself, never again.
You gave up so much and devoted yourself only to her, but in the end, everything was fleeting.
What if the next girl turns out the same?
So afraid of getting hurt, you stop trusting. You become obsessed with back-up plans. You talk to multiple “potentials” so when the person you are interested in stops talking to you, you wouldn’t have to experience the bitter feeling of defeat or loneliness.
Because of this, we find it hard to devote ourselves to just one person. We cannot help but constantly ask ourselves if the person we are dating is indeed the right one because there are so many other people we could be seeing. Coupled with the lure of how easy it is to meet people on dating apps, it practically makes it impossible for us to settle with just one person.
2. We’ve written out our love story
It is human nature to have expectations.
And the more relationship you’ve been through, the more expectations you have because you think you now know what you want in a girl.
That is why, when you meet someone new, you scrutinise every action, every text. When you do something, you expect a certain reaction from her. If anything she does deviates from what you expect, you get upset and you start to question if she is indeed the right one.
Basically, you’ve written out your love story. And if she does anything out of character, you bolt. Becuase, that must mean that she’s not the right person for you, right?
We want a fairytale romance, but unlike the princesses who love their Prince Charming for who they are, we pick and choose the pieces of the person we love. We focus on the parts that meet our expectations and ignore the rest.
And what happens when we can no longer go on ignoring? We leave.
3. We started having sex
And that is when we learnt just how many assholes there are out there.
I’ve heard many stories of people I know falling prey to guys who were just after them for sex.
It’s always the same story: Intially, the guy will treat the girl like a queen, acting like chivalry is not dead and pretending to be interested in her life. Well, that is until he gets into her pants and once the deed is done and thrill of the chase is gone, then all that the girl will be left with are calls that go straight to voice mail and blue ticks on Whatsapp.
We really cannot blame the girl for becoming wary afterwards because in addition to wondering if he is the right person, she has to also consider if he is just interested in her for sex.
4. We seek balance
If you devote this much into the relationship, you expect the same amount of effort from the other person. It is only fair, right?
However, the truth is, love is not constant: at different points in a relationship, someone will always need the other person more. For example, right now, your girlfriend could be texting you everyday because she’s having some troubles back home; however, in the future, when you land a new job and have to start work at in an unfamiliar environment, you could find yourself clinging on to her instead.
Also, in most relationships, someone will always love the other person more. It’s not really about how attracted she is with you; it’s just different people are just made to love differently: some are more passive while others, more passionate.
That is why we shouldn’t be afraid to be the “loser” in the relationship because real balance is not about being the same and loving each other equally; instead, it should be finding someone with differences that complement yours like a person who would eat the pickles in that you absolutely loathe in your burger.
5. We love the idea of being in love
And most of the time, more than the person we’re suppose to love.
As ironic as it sounds, we romanticise about the idea of romance which is a slippery slope because now, getting into a relationship becomes our primary goal while finding the right person becomes secondary.
That is why many of us end up settling, only to realise too late that they were never truly in love.
Moreover, because of this, we tend to have a penchant to hypnotise ourselves.
When two people first get to know each other, they are both compliant and willing to compromise. For example, if you ask her if she wants to go to the zoo next Friday, she would most probably be willing, and you’ll be left thinking, “Wow, she loves animals.”
However, sometimes we learn later on that it could be the furthest thing from the truth.
Honestly, we aren’t stupid. Every one of us know this in theory. But, when it comes to our own relationship, we will always choose to believe that ours is the exception.
In the end, such a relationship that is built on a weak facade will definitely not be able to withstand the test of time.
My advice is, your 20s is the time when you are supposed to make mistakes and learn from them. So don’t be afraid of getting hurt: it’s just part of the curriculum. Always approach everyone with an open mind and heart and for those that have gotten your heart broken, don’t forget to remind yourself that she is not and will never be your ex.