Rhetoric centering romance is everywhere. It seems as though the majority of the conversations I have these days revolve around updates on my friends’ “situationships,” swiping through Hinge or discussing our newest class crushes.
In films, books, advertising and social media, romance is often the main focus, whereas family, friends and one’s self are reduced to the sidelines. We are fed so much rhetoric about finding “the one,” or seeking love and validation from romantic partners, that we can easily forget the things we are already so lucky to have.
It seems as though romantic love is presented as being the only way we can find fulfillment — as if romance is the endgame to life and to all the relationships we seek.
Now, I see no problem with looking for prospective romantic partners. At some point though, it occurred to me that the people around me were valuing the existence of those forms of love so much that other aspects of their lives were taking the back seat.
This is something that can prevent us from having well-rounded, fulfilling lives. Above all, it distracts us from all the other forms of love that exist in the world around us.
It’s important to take a step back and realize there is more to life than romance, and oftentimes, the things we want out of a relationship are things we might not realize we already have in our existing connections.
Many of the friendships I’ve had in my life have been infinitely more valuable than the connection with any person I’ve been interested in or dated. Friends support one another without judgment or worry about how they might look in the eyes of another, fears of inadequacy and other social pressures that may come with dating. There is so much emotional intimacy to be found, joy to be experienced and fun memories to be shared within platonic relationships that people often seek only in romantic ones.
That’s not to say romantic relationships can’t be fulfilling, enjoyable or teach you lots about yourself. However, it does mean that funneling a disproportionate amount of effort into solely romance can limit oneself from experiencing the full potential of what platonic love can provide.
Giving attention to connections outside of the romantic realm doesn’t just apply to friendship. Sometimes, stepping back from actively looking for somebody to date can be really beneficial to oneself. Getting to know who you truly are outside of the context of how you appear to others is essential to self development and, ultimately, self love.
In modern society, decentering the tireless search for “your person” and letting relationships coexist with equal importance among other types of connection — with ourselves and those around us — is essential.
Though romantic love is a beautiful and valuable thing, it’s important we don’t let the quest for it overshadow the other aspects of our lives.