I'm going to take a page from Beyonce's Lemonade and say this: "I don't know when love became elusive. What I know is, no one I know has it." This rings true when I look around at the people of my generation.
It seems like every time I turn around, I see another relationship forming between people my age or watch another one end. That, or I'm hearing about hookup culture and peoples' opinions on love and dating today. Memes are constantly swirling around my social media, declarations of love or rants constantly being posted. There is this enormous unspoken pressure that I need to be in love with someone to truly be complete.
I don't agree with that at all. Not one bit. I believe that there are some huge misconceptions about love among my age group. And so I've decided to remind my fellow peers of a few things.
First of all, love is not an immediate thing. I know that deep down inside, we all crave to love someone and be loved by them in return. It's a desire that most, if not all people share. But by no means should you dive into declarations of love (and the actions that come with them) lightly. Love does not happen overnight. Liking someone and wanting to explore possibilities with them is not the same thing as truly loving someone. So please, for the sake of everyone involved, stop spitting out "I love you" just because you want so desperately for it to be true. Are you going to crave love? Absolutely. But don't force love into your life where it won't fit or doesn't exist- it only ends in heartbreak.
Alongside this goes a much-forgotten truth among my generation: if you're not in love, sex isn't going to create it. Chemistry and love aren't the same thing. Learn to separate them. All the fireworks and great sex in the world aren't going to make love magically appear. And eventually, love and lust will become so knotted together in your mind and heart that you won't be able to separate them.
Another thing I'll give a reminder of is the fact that relationships are a two-way street, and there needs to be as much give as there is take. I know of a lot of relationships in which one person gives their all, pours out their soul, lays out everything they have and the other person doesn't match. You shouldn't be giving any more than you're receiving in a relationship. Trust, honesty, respect and sacrifices should come to you as often as you're giving them. If the scale of these things isn't balanced, there's a problem.
But above all, this is what I will stress the most: you do not need love, a partner or a relationship to define you. You should be your own person before being anyone's partner. Relying on someone else to "complete" you isn't healthy; you need to be a complete and whole person on your own. Your identity shouldn't include another human being until you're in love with that person, and ready to life a permanent life with them. You don't need to spend all of your time with one other individual. You don't need to constantly be in contact. If you can't survive without always knowing what your partner is doing or being with them, that's not love. That's dependency, just like a drug. And being addicted to a person, someone who has flaws and is not perfect, is just as dangerous as anything else addictive.
I'm not trying to discourage anyone, to sway anyone away from love. That's not my goal. But I think that we, as a generation, are looking for love in all of the wrong places and in all of the wrong ways. We push ourselves to get to love, forgetting that it often finds us when we stop looking. Become content with who you are, and love as it's truly meant to be will come when it's right.