Ask Abby, Lifestyle

Ask Abby (or Analise): What I wished I had known about love before college

For the final “Ask Abby” of the semester, I thought I would do something special by offering my perspective on love, relationships and all things dating that I wish I knew prior to being in college.

Annika Morris | Senior Graphic Artist

I didn’t date in high school. In fact, I didn’t have any crushes. I was a very nose-in-a-book kind of person, so it wasn’t until I got to college that I embarked on my first romantic endeavor — and with that has come a lot of trial and error. 

You see, love is not, and has never been, a one-way street — it’s not even a two-way! I have found that love is so infinite, complex and has a never-ending amount of sources –– so it seems stupid to try and corral it all together into one tiny concept. 

While I still have much to wonder about myself, here is what I want to give to you — just to have in your back pocket for all of your future endeavors.

When someone throws attention at your feet, you don’t have to pick it up

This is a big one for all of my people who have never experienced any sort of relationship in high school. I find that when you never find yourself on the dating scene, you wear a special pair of rose-colored glasses the first time someone gives you attention. 

Even if you aren’t attracted to the person, or don’t feel much of a connection, there’s this strange sense of obligation to accept the attention they’re showing us — mainly because we are afraid no one else may ever find us as attractive, so we might as well take what’s there.

It’s definitely validating to have someone tell you that you’re “pretty” and affirming in you that you’re worthy of love, but the important thing is that you can’t get caught up in that.

Your sense of worth should never come from another person, especially in the advances that they make towards you. 

So, just because a guy slides up on your story and says you’re beautiful or asks you out doesn’t mean you’re obligated to accept the attention. If you’re not interested, be honest and know that you won’t be without love forever, you just need to wait until you find someone you’re compatible with. 

Instagram is fun, but it’s not all that you are

Instagram in college can be a fun place to share all of your fun times and memories. However, I find that it’s also a major source of FOMO and fuels a lot of self comparison. 

You’ll find that when you post pictures, specifically of yourself, you might get some messages left for you in your DMs.

While it’s validating to have people comment, there needs to be that deeper sense of understanding that comes from within telling you that there is so much more to you than how pretty you are.

You have a personality, likes and dislikes. You’re smart, independent and a well-rounded person beneath what appears on the surface. 

It’s okay to say no

There have been occasions where I felt somewhat obligated to take some people up on their offers to “hangout,” and still, reflecting on it fills me with a sense of dread. 

I find that people tend to confuse kindness with romance, but just because I offer to send you the notes that you missed doesn’t mean I want to go on a date with you.

The afterthought that I’ve always had with this is that I begin to worry that the person pursuing me might think I’m rude or uptight. 

Still, at the end of the day, my final moral is this: You don’t owe anyone anything, no matter how persistent they are. You’re not mean or in the wrong. You’re just not interested, and that’s okay.

Love doesn’t have to hurt

No one should ever make you feel less than what you’re worth — ever. 

Speaking from personal experience, it’s so incredibly easy to be blinded by love that you completely overlook all the different acts of disrespect. 

Someone who really loves you will never intentionally hurt you in any way. Whether it be physically, or through their words. Don’t be mistaken, they can still do nice things for you while also being a total jerk. It’s a very simple balancing act that many have mastered.

Someone who really loves you will also not force you into doing anything that you’re not comfortable with, and won’t knock you down to satisfy their own means. If they do, definitely reevaluate. 

Breakups are scary, but they’re not the end of the world. Don’t spend your whole young life being dragged through the mud by someone who pretends to care about you.

Dating is not some box you need to check

I thought I was doing something wrong during the first few months of college. I hadn’t gone on a date and I hadn’t met someone who I was ready to fall madly in love with. It took me some time to realize that I wasn’t really in the market for either of those things.

The start of freshman year is really about exploring your individualism, and all the cool things that come with that –– developing your own sense of style, making new friends, living on your own. I wasn’t super interested in dating at all, and it just seemed like some thorn in my side because everyone else around me was getting into it.

Since then, I’ve come to find that the best kind of love is the one that is not searched for, but rather comes to you unexpectedly and when you’re ready.

My point is: You are not destined to forever be alone. You’ll find your person just like we all do, even if it takes some time.

To love and to lose, but still be kind

The biggest takeaway I’ve learned is this: To love and to lose, but still be kind. 

I think about this sentiment everyday. There have been so many people I have loved in my life: family, friends, romantic partners, pets, teachers. Some of these people I still talk to daily, some of these people have died, some of these people I cut off and some of these people lost interest.

Every relationship is like riding a tandem bike. By getting on, we run the risk of one person running out of steam and toppling the whole thing over –– because no bike, and certainly no relationship, can work properly if only one half is accelerating forward.

People weave in and out of our lives, for better and for worse. No matter how much they teach us, show us, help us, hurt us, knock us down, stand us back up — love or lose them — they have played a key part in shaping our personhood. For that, it’s worth continuing to be kind, and still having the courage to hop back on bicycle in the future. 

Whether you take my words with a grain of salt, or maybe print this article out and carry it with you all the time, it has been a pleasure serving you advice this semester — stay curious and keep asking questions.

With love, 

Ask Abby (or Analise)

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