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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Cal State Chico chapter.

To be quite frank, I don’t know much about this topic of love. Turning 23 later this month, I’m not exactly well-versed in the dating world. Having only been in one serious relationship during my college career, a lot of what I’ve learned about relationships has stemmed from my own experience and watching my friends navigate their love life, attempting to find their perfect match. 

Having lived in this town for five years, and being completely immersed in Chico’s notorious culture, I’ve seen some interesting behavior and watched numerous relationships run their course. 

In full honesty, I wouldn’t consider myself to be a “crushy” person. I don’t catch feelings easily. It takes a lot for me to care for someone, and once I do, I’m locked in. That being said, my generation’s interest in hook-up culture is not something I’ve ever understood, or subscribed to. I’d prefer a meaningful connection with someone rather than momentary satisfaction. 

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think there’s anything wrong or shameful about participating in hook-ups. I simply want to raise the question as to why. Why has this generation resorted to collecting partners rather than exploring connections through relationships, or has the mode in which this exploration of connections occurs simply shifted? 

The answer is: I don’t know. Do any of us truly know why we do the things we do? All I have is my own experiences and observations, which- like I said- I’ve seen some things. And I’ve also done some things I’m not too proud of. 

Long story short: Love makes you crazy. 

It doesn’t matter if you’re in the healthiest of all relationships, your emotions still take over and can drive you to act in ways you’ve never imagined. It’s important to remember that we’re young, and we’re attempting to navigate intense and real emotional vulnerability while balancing all the other pressures of adult life. We don’t know what we’re doing. We’re all trying to figure it out the best we can. Unfortunately, I think a lot of us get caught up in the college culture which ultimately ruins the search.

Gone with the Wind
Selznick International Pictures

It’s important to remember to hold yourself in the center of your relationships, whether it’s romantic relationships, friendships, or even situationships. I know how hard it is to not melt into the other person and solely give into their wants and needs, just as I understand how hard it is to walk the fine line between selfishness and self respect. 

Even more unfortunate is the percentage of relationships I’ve seen exist within a toxic cycle. Sadly, I think it’s more common than healthy relationships at this age. If this is something you find yourself struggling with, this is my message to you: 

Your partner should never make you question your self worth. Love does not ask you to pick between your friends and your relationship. Love isn’t supposed to hurt. 

I know how complex and seemingly impossible it is to break out of the cycle of a toxic relationship, and it’s not something that people understand until they experience it first hand. You learn to depend on the other person to repair the heart they broke, mend the pain that they gave you. 

But the truth is, as hard as it is to accept, the person who broke you cannot fix you. Leaving a relationship is hard, no matter what type of relationship you’re in. But you should never have to explain everyday how you want to be loved. You should never beg to be chosen, or to be simply understood.

Dating at this age, in this generation, is draining. It’s hard and complicated, especially as we embark on the beginning of our adult lives. I challenge all of you who have read this to look at the relationships you’re in and question whether or not they serve you, if they bring positives to your life. I’m not advocating for ending your relationship if you fight occasionally or to ditch them and find someone else. Please don’t do that, okay? 

However, I am advocating for you. The you reading this that has been single for the past few years; the you who bounces from situationship to situationship; the you who knows they’re with someone they shouldn’t be. Protect your heart. Think about what you truly want in a partnership. And do what your mind is telling you to. Trust your instincts. You know when something doesn’t serve you anymore. 

I’ll leave you with one last piece of advice: You cannot find love in someone else if you cannot find it within yourself, first. 

Rachel Ashorn

Cal State Chico '24

Rachel Ashorn is currently a senior at Chico State University, studying English and Creative Writing. Growing up in Elk Grove, just a few hours from Chico, she plans to trade her small-town roots for a big city following graduation. Rachel hopes to work in the field of publishing and copywriting. Through her studies, Rachel has developed a passion for non-fiction writing and poetry, planning to one day publish a memoir of her own. When she’s not in the classroom, Rachel can be found writing in her journal, getting a coffee, or trying new recipes. She loves spending time with her friends, whether that be cuddled up on the couch together for a girls-night-in, or going out dancing!