Relationships are portrayed in our culture as indicative of our self worth; we have become conditioned to desire relationships even when we are not truly sure that they are the best for us.
The desire for romance is evolutionary. It is due to the human need to procreate and pass on our genes. Raising a human child requires not only sex but also much effort on the part of both parents. Evolutionarily, we form attachment bonds with our parents and with our partners because of the effort needed to raise children.
Because we live in a much more complex society than that of our hunter-gatherer ancestors, the concept of a relationship has become relatively more convoluted, namely, the association between being in a relationship and having a higher self worth. I find that media is one of the most powerful influences on everything we believe, and we’ve been fed media creating this connection from Disney films in our childhood to the angsty Netflix comedies or badass James Bond movies that we partake in now. And because most believe in this idea, we are further conditioned to buy into this conception by the influence of our peers.
However, this conditioning is maladaptive and wrong.
It is better to be single than to enter any relationship that is not serious because there is no point in being with someone for the sake of being with someone. Why? Well, think about this. Does being with someone truly mean that you are loved by them? Not necessarily. The word relationship in and of itself is just a label. The meaning is created by the people who enter it. And if the people who enter are not serious, and they are trying to use the relationship as a means for companionship to fulfill some deep loneliness or insecurity, then their relationship is meaningless. Entering it will harm both parties and almost certainly result in a break up because they both entered the relationship not out of caring for each other.
When it comes to understanding people and evaluating their true intentions and their heart, do not look at the words they say but rather the way they say it. Plenty of people are too generous with their words. They say things they do not mean. They give compliments out because compliments are free, inconsequential. If someone tells you that you are hot, attractive, or whatever plethora of words people use to compliment another’s looks, it means nothing because those words do not offer a window into the heart of the person saying them. And they are free for words do not require much cost for anyone to say. If people had to pay a substantial amount of money for every compliment they gave or receive some other type of punishment, then people would be a lot more conservative with the words they say.
Therefore to evaluate what someone is actually feeling, it is best to look at their nonverbal cues and to look at their cognitive patterns and their actions. Cognitive patterns are vital because everyone has different personalities and different meanings behind their actions. Therefore, much misunderstanding will ensue if one evaluates their partner or friend based on the societal norm for a person fulfilling that role. Instead, one must evaluate through that individual’s own patterns. Nonverbal cues are vital as they betray the person’s true intentions; it is significantly harder to hide who you are through those. This applies not only to evaluating a potential partner’s intentions, but also a friend’s.
One could have many friends, but if a large portion of those friends do not truly care and are simply there under the label of “friend” then there is no point to the friendship either. Both individuals would again be using each other to try to fulfill some other insecurity that cannot be truly fulfilled through having this fake friendship. That is why the only criteria for friendship should be realness.
Our society tells us that extraversion is the ideal, that knowing many people will allow us to be happy. However, this is not truly the case. Quality over quantity.
To live a truly satisfying life, we should understand ourselves, evaluate our choices and the reasons behind them. If we are entering relationships–be they romantic or friendly–for the wrong reasons, we should evaluate why and find the proper solution to our problems. Oftentimes societal conventions are made to make our lives easier, but not all of them are beneficial to us. Therefore, we must be careful in choosing which to follow in order to live a life that is truly satisfying. These insecurities related to self-worth must be resolved through introspection rather than companionship.
Because lives all have an end date, the only way to make meaning in life is to be always cognizant of what truly makes us happy, something that we can only become aware of through understanding ourselves. We should complete ourselves before finding someone else to be with because relationships are healthiest when both parties are complete.