North Texas Daily

Societal expectations have no place in intimate relationships

Societal expectations have no place in intimate relationships

Societal expectations have no place in intimate relationships
August 05
12:00 2022

The moment we become teenagers, the world sells us sex and romance, promising us that we’d be nothing without it. Our culture instills in us a terrible fear of growing old and being alone decades before our first wrinkle.

Sometimes, being single is the best move. Whether it’s for months, years or even a lifetime — singlehood isn’t the terrible sentence that society makes it out to be. Of course, American dating culture has become a little more complex over the years: from official relationships to situationships, friends with benefits and more. Every person has different needs, and societal pressure to be in a relationship can be harmful to those who aren’t suited for it.

The expectations to date and find a sexual and romantic partner extends to all genders and sexualities — a pressure that more than half of Americans ages 18 to 29 feel, according to a study by Pew Research Center.

For women, that pressure manifests by being told that we’re running out of time to find a lover, settle down and have a family — as if that’s the only formula for happiness. For men, it seems as if masculinity and sex are deeply and unhealthily intertwined. Regardless, there’s some part of everyone that wants to feel desired, but we are wrong in thinking there’s only one way to receive it.

Modern American culture has largely moved on from embracing norms that are repressive and discourage female sexuality, even in romantic relationships. The sexual revolution that began in the 60s is still going strong and is widely celebrated.

Rapper Megan Thee Stallion coined “Hot Girl Summer,” a phrase that started off as the name of her 2019 hit song but soon turned into a cultural movement encouraging women to be their most carefree selves. Later on, the term became associated with having non-committal flings and hook-ups whenever a person desires. At its core though, “Hot Girl Summer” is about embracing and taking control of one’s femininity and sexuality.

There are settings, however, where the lighthearted trend turns into an unwavering expectation — moments where it defeats the purpose of having a sexual liberation movement to begin with.

In some friend groups, there’s this unspoken rule that if you don’t have a few romantic or sexual interests in your pocket, you aren’t really living life to the fullest. It’s not uncommon to be called a prude because of a low sex drive. The whole point of sexual liberation is to have sex when you want, with whom you want. There isn’t enough space in the bedroom for society’s expectations. It’s not really liberation if you’re only having sex for validation.

For others, the intensity of romantic relationships and whirlwind sexual encounters are what make life so adventurous. Meeting new people, learning from mistakes and even the odd fling or two gives a person a few interesting stories to tell at dinner with friends. Some aren’t as interested. Be it a result of personal preferences or traumatic events, not wanting to be involved in any kind of relationship should be just as valid as being in one.

There’s this idea that our “other half” exists out there, waiting to be found. It allows one to surrender their fate and identity to a person they’ve yet to meet. That kind of thinking breeds codependency. In finding your “other half,” you’ve thrown away integral parts of yourself in exchange for the company of another. Is it bleak to say that no one will ever really find their other half? Scrolling through social media, it feels like everyone’s already found theirs, even though they’re only a quarter into their lives.

Thinking a relationship is the key to succeeding in life leads one down a desperate path that encourages settling for partners that aren’t suitable. Relationships are time-consuming – by nature, humans are complicated, flawed and beautifully messy. Romantic commitments, just like any other intimate dynamic, require investments of time and energy. With the right person, a relationship is worth the continuous effort. With the wrong match, a person could be left unsatisfied, or even traumatized.

Prioritize intuition before narrow-minded societal expectations. Invest time in yourself because there is nothing more intimate than being in tune with your emotions. After all, to be secure in singlehood is to be secure in your individuality.

Featured Illustration by Jazmine Garcia

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Hana Musa

Hana Musa

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