Why I’m Still Single Even Though My (Ex-)Boyfriend Proposed in High School

It was the spring of 2016. My boyfriend at the time had gotten into the habit of calling me late at night when he couldn’t sleep, and we were in the middle of one of these idle conversations. I was trying to figure out how to end the call because I could sleep, when the conversation took a turn I wasn’t expecting.

“So, I was thinking about what happens after high school, and I was wondering, do you want to get engaged?”

“What?”

“I mean, I’ll get a ring and I’ll do an actual proposal, but do you want to?”

The following is an accurate representation of my reaction:

Now, I know many people around my age that are happily married or in very serious relationships. That is excellent for them, and I wish them all the happiness in the world. All the same, I can’t help but be thankful that, rather than respond with a yes, my short-circuiting brain managed to come up with a stuttering reply about the struggles of long-distance relationships. It was the best thing that could have happened in the situation.

I know many people here at the U think that getting married while young is only a Utah thing, but it’s not. It may be a more common occurrence here, but young people all over the United States get married for a variety of reasons. Some of my roommates in freshman year joked about getting married for the tax benefits. Whatever the reason, if you do decide to get married or even be in a relationship, make sure it’s what you want to do.

Everyone knows that college students are under a lot of pressure, including over their relationship status. Every visit home involves a well-meaning relative asking, “Is there anyone special in your life?” There is an expectation that during a person’s college career, somewhere, hidden in some random classroom, that person’s soul mate is just waiting to be found. As anyone that has tried to find this mysterious person knows, this is not a practical expectation. People meet in seemingly random and unique ways. Being in college does not guarantee you'll come out with a degree and a partner. You met someone during college that you want to spend the rest of your life with? Great! You met someone that you just want to spend some time with? That’s also great! You don’t have or want a romantic relationship at all? Go for it!

Pressure doesn’t only come from societal expectations, though. Walking around campus and seeing happy couples, checking Facebook and seeing yet another high school friend married, even watching the most recent romance movie can lead a person to think that maybe they need a romantic relationship in their life. All I ask is that you really think about what you want. Being in a relationship for the wrong reasons can be so incredibly unhealthy. Don’t let yourself be with someone only because you are afraid about what would happen if you weren’t together.

I know why I didn’t accept my ex’s proposal that night. I needed to find out who I was before I could even think about marriage. And though I can’t exactly say what was going through his mind, I can speculate. I think he was scared about all the changes that were happening at the end of senior year, and was trying to hold on to something solid. I think he was afraid of losing all familiarity, while I was afraid of becoming trapped. The cuteness of high school sweethearts was never going to make our relationship last.

Sometimes, everything in your life seems to be pushing you to be in a relationship. If you want, feel free to find someone. All the same, that is entirely your decision. Just make sure that you live your life in a way that makes you happy. That’s what really matters.

Images: Cover, 1, 2, 3, 4