Growing up, I was always a hopeless romantic. I watched hundreds of romance movies, listened to songs about love, and read tons of romance novels hoping maybe just one day, I would get to experience that type of love. The thing is that everybody secretly wishes for love like they see in the movies, despite the blatant lack of realism in romantic comedies. These tales are meant to inspire hope for a more fulfilling romantic future. But the thing is, they actually just prepare the majority of people for disappointment. Whatever you choose to call it — faith in destiny, soul mates, or divine intervention — is a formula for tragedy. Romance films use our idealistic and naive notions of love and pervert them into illogical behavior. Accepting heartbreak as a fact of life and learning from it is the real secret to having a good view of love.
Growing up, I was never the pretty or popular girl so I never received that much attention from boys. My parents always told me to focus on my studies, clubs, and sports, so much of my focus was on that instead of boys. Deep down though, my hopeless romantic heart always wished to experience what it was like having a boyfriend, going on dates, holding hands, and just experiencing various hopeless romantic experiences. Throughout elementary, middle, and high school, I never got to experience any romantic relationships or in general “romantic experiences.” Society teaches us a lot, but it especially emphasizes love connections. I used to think I was flawed since I didn’t have a boyfriend in high school. I assumed that since no one had asked me out, I was ugly, repulsive, and would remain single forever. I had watched a ton of romance movies and was desperate for one.
After I graduated high school is when I had a “glow up,” so when I started college is when I got so much attention for the first time in my life. I recall how overwhelming this feeling was. I thought because I was in college now, dating and experiencing a relationship would be so much easier, but I was proven wrong. If you’re a college student who has never been in a relationship or engaged in any sort of romantic activity, you could feel like you’re falling behind or that there’s something you’re doing wrong. To begin with, it is frightening to consider having an emotional connection with someone. But romance feels much scarier in the modern era of one-night encounters, college hookup culture, and the abundance of dating apps at our fingers. I feel like my lack of experience has hindered my personal growth in a variety of ways, including how I perceive myself, how I handle relationships, and how I perceive my sexuality. I genuinely believe that research on those of us who have never experienced romantic relationships is necessary to determine the influence it has on our growth.
The unrealistic expectations that we are given in rom-coms are another problem. I always believed that a guy would just magically come into my life and treat me like a princess. Rom-coms don’t instruct you on what to do if it doesn’t. I couldn’t find my way. I was unable to experience the movie’s meet-cute scene since I was trapped in the exposition. A majority of my experiences with the men I met were terrible to me. They were not like the men in romantic comedies. They used me, lied to me, sent me love bombs, or ghosted me. I wasn’t even able to recover until I began to truly enjoy my years as a single woman. Now, I am aware that I do merit the rom-com man. I don’t deserve any less, but finding him won’t be simple. I need someone who respects me, has a genuine interest in me, and wants an authentic connection. They communicate their concerns, are emotionally mature, express their emotions, are loyal, etc. If I can’t find somebody, I’ll be happy to be alone. That’s preferable to settling for the males I have had experiences with before. I know what I want and what I bring to the table. I shouldn’t have to beg for it nor settle for the bare minimum.
I’ve come to accept the flow of life and let things happen naturally instead of forcing something. Now I take singleness as a gift. I never imagined that I would reach a stage in my life when I would be satisfied with being alone and not desperately looking for a relationship. But now I can. I cherish my solitude more than ever. I’m much more focused academically, am involved with clubs and internships, exploring new interests, enjoying every moment with my friends and family, progressing on my personal fitness journey, and enjoying every moment of my life. As much as little Ritu wanted to experience the love she saw in movies, she knows that although she wants it, she doesn’t need it. When the time comes, it will come. If it doesn’t come, oh well that is also ok because romantic love is not the only thing there is to experience in life. Instead, focus on simply cherishing your life and enjoying it truly.