What I’ve Learned About Being Single in University

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Photo by Laura Ockel on Unsplash

I came to UVic four years ago with three main goals: get my degree, make good friends, and to find a boyfriend. Yes, 17-year old me was convinced that this was my chance to find the love of my life. Because that’s what happens in all the movies right? And all my friends’ parents, and even my parents, met in university and lived happily ever after (well, sometimes).

I am now 21, single, and can honestly say I’m only slightly less confused about dating now than I was at 17. I no longer have the expectation that a life-long partner will just fall into my lap if I wish for it hard enough, but I’m just as clueless about reading signals and embarrassingly awkward when it comes to talking to anyone I’m interested in. I am not ashamed of this, it is just a fact.

What has changed is my awareness and understanding of dating culture in university. At first, I put pressure on myself to put myself out there and maybe go on dates. But then after going on one or two unfortunate dates (he declared himself “hipster trash” and spilt hot sauce on me at brunch…), I came to the conclusion that I would just take things in stride and enjoy my student life, with or without a boyfriend.

But then my friends started getting into relationships. I was genuinely pleased to see my friends so happy and excited, but gradually I became one of the only single people left in my social circle. And suddenly, the pressure was on once more.

“Is there something wrong with me?” “Do I come on too strong?” “Have I friend zoned myself?” “Maybe when I smiled at them, it looked creepy?” I started being so hard on myself for being single that it actually began to affect the way I felt about who I was.

Everything I said and did was wrong and I told myself that I was alone because I wasn’t good enough. When dating and relationships came up in conversation with friends, it didn’t matter what they said to comfort me. They kept repeating, “It’ll happen when it’s supposed to! You’re great!” But these comments mean nothing if you don’t believe them.

I wish I could tell you that I woke up one day no longer feeling this way. That I channeled Eat, Pray, Love and “found” myself. But that wouldn’t be an honest conclusion to this post. The truth is, I still struggle with my singleness.

No one in my life thinks any less of me or loves me any less because I’m single, but I somehow got it into my head that I was a failure of a 20-something because I haven’t been in a long-term relationship yet. I struggled with separating my expectations of dating in university from what I saw in the media. I had to accept that rom coms and aesthetic couple photos on Tumblr did not accurately reflect the diverse experiences and types of relationships university students go through.

Photo by Mohamed Nohassi on Unsplash

I think it’s important that we talk about our experiences candidly so we know that we’re not alone in feeling lost and confused when trying to navigate relationships in university.

We’re already faced with so much academic pressure and anxiety about the future that when you add “finding a significant other” to the mix, it all feels like too much.

It often feels like the general advice any anxious single person is given is “Love yourself!” and “Everything happens for a reason!” But those responses are band-aid solutions. Of course it’s important to love and feel comfortable with yourself. However, even confident people can have moments of self-doubt when society keeps telling us that we need to have significant others in order to be truly happy.

The moment I realized that I was measuring my self-worth by my relationship status, I took some time to rethink why I felt this way. A major reason I viewed myself in such a negative way is because I was comparing myself to the unrealistic standards set by the media.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Another reason was because I was constantly comparing myself to others, even to my closest friends. I had to realize that being single is not a weakness or an indication that there is something wrong with me.

A relationship status does not define who you are and comparing yourself to others is a waste of time. Also, I still had an amazing time in university, even without the boyfriend I dreamt about at 17. Having or not having a significant other should not stop you from going out, trying new things and enjoying yourself!

My intention in writing this post is to be transparent about how difficult dating culture can be for people in university. It’s not a “one size fits all” experience and there is no right or wrong way to do it. Sometimes people get lucky and do form really wonderful relationships during their time in university, even if they don’t last a lifetime. Other people have a great time being single or unattached.

The point is, don’t measure your success by your relationship status. Make the most of your time at university and embrace your individuality! Now is as good a time as any to try new things and work on accepting yourself for who you are.

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1 Response

  1. Juan says:

    Me gusto tu blogger es muy interesante y sincero

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