From Our Teen Readers
March 26, 2015 1:53 pm

Let’s face it: When your bestie is in a brand new relationship, and they are at that “Oh my god, guess what he said the other day!?” and “I love the way he smiles” phase, you feel a little jealous. It’s normal, and for some people, this lasts a few days, maybe even a few minutes, before you see that beautiful tub of Ben and Jerry’s in the freezer and you remind yourself that you already have the most important relationship in your life and everything is okay.

But nowadays, there seems to be this overwhelming pressure for us girls to find someone, and I am not sure whether it is just 17-year-old hormones or the fact that there are now even more “cute couple” quotes all over Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter etc. but it’s time to make a stand against this relationship epidemic.

A lot of you have probably tried this dating thing and, for many of you, it probably hasn’t worked out perfectly. It’s easy to find yourself in a loved up “I think he is the one” stage with a guy (or girl), only to have your new love pull a loser move that leaves you listening to Taylor Swift in your onesie telling your cat that it’s the only ‘person’ who will ever understand you. (Unfortunately for me, this has happened about five times and trust me, it’s not a good look.) Even though love (at least teenage love) usually ends just like this, we all still have some amazing and beautiful besties who are in serious turmoil because they aren’t in a relationship.

This sucks, because they are wasting precious time on things that clearly make them unhappy, but don’t focus on finding things that do. We shouldn’t feel like we have to base our lives on the need to find someone who finds us attractive — the only person that can really do that anyway, is ourselves!

Here are three reasons I don’t want to stress about finding “the one” in the next few years, months, days or hours:

1. That horrible insecurity:

The worst part about dating is the not knowing. You don’t know what they are thinking and what is going to happen, and you find yourself stressing and worrying and overthinking and it just gets messy. You feel so insecure and you start to feel so out of control, and that leads to a a major Monica Gellar moment (WE LIKE TO HAVE CONTROL!).

Relationships always start off nice: They tell you their hobbies and how much they like one of those cool bands (and you have to quickly YouTube some songs so you can sound just as cool, and pray to god that they don’t start quizzing you on the band member’s favorite food and pet dog’s name). For a while, it feels like finding this special someone actually minimizes your insecurities, but when the new relationship glow fades, a relationship is just one extra stress during an already stressful and insecure time.

The teenage years: the part of our lives where we notice every single curve, bump, scar and mark on our bodies and we finally start to look at our bodies. Your biggest critic at this point is you! And we all know that sometimes, we can be really mean to ourselves, unjustifiably mean. Why should we feel like we have to open up these vulnerabilities to someone else? Why should we feel that someone else needs to accept the way we are when we are still accepting our individualities? At this stage of your life, you are the only person who needs to find you beautiful, nobody else. If you can’t look in the mirror and say “You know what, I am pretty wonderful,” then don’t rely on anyone else to do so. You are wonderful, you are beautiful, and you don’t need anyone else to verify that! You and your hormones have some stuff to work out at the moment, so you don’t need anybody else getting in the way of that if you don’t want them to.

2. The disappointment:

You feel relaxed and in love… and then it often just goes downhill from there. I know that sounds awful and cynical, and I know some of you will think I’m a moody so and so, but it’s true. I am not saying that we should all give up now and go buy 200 cats, but I am saying, we need to have reasonable expectations about love in our teens. We need to stop looking, and we need to be patient and wait for it to happen!

Love is a natural thing. And just like all of the other sometimes-uncomfortable parts of growing up (boobs, periods, armpit hair), it just sort of happens. We all want a Ryan Gosling to stand on our doorstep in the pouring rain or a Zac Efron to tell us how beautiful we are and you know what, we do totally deserve it. But, as teenage girls, we have to accept that certain things aren’t going to happen — our crushes don’t want to stand in the pouring rain or throw stones at your bedroom window, not when they can be inside hanging out with their own friends. We have to find romance in the small things, which is actually even more special and that is something that will come in time.

The relationships we form now will affect how we go into relationships in the future. Not in a massive way, but we will just refer to our past relationships before we embark on new ones. That is why as a teenager, you should take things slow. Learn about who you are first and what you look for in a future partner before you rush into anything. We have all experienced heartbreak and it hurts. And in no way is this me suggesting we all stay away from love and opening our hearts up, because we all need to live on the edge eventually, when we find someone who is worth risking it for! But at this time in our lives, when (as beautiful as we are) we’re emotional wrecks and when someone hurts us, it can often hurt us a lot more than it would when we’ve got a more balanced hormone system. Take it slow, fall gently and never give your heart away to someone who doesn’t earn it. Yes, it might be a very long time before that person comes along, but just be patient; it will all be worth it in the end.

3. The pressure:

Are you not fed up of trying to find the right lighting or your best side to reply to a flirty Snapchat? Are you not sick of forcing a conversation, when we know we have homework and studying to do, just because the person you like is bored? You don’t need to spend any more time worrying about what they would think if they could see you eating the entire jar of Nutella in your sweatpants and make-up free face!

Right now, we have so many more things to think about, like who we are taking to see Pitch Perfect 2 and how many marshmallows we can physically fit into our mouths when playing Chubby Bunny (great game). Enjoy being young and embrace the flaws you were blessed with, including the not-so-perfect skin, the stretch marks and cellulite, that dorky laugh, and those crazy dreams of yours that you sit and think about now and again, but will never share. There is no rush for sharing that with someone because when you find the person you want to share all that with, they will be around for a long time. The trick is to learn to love all of your own flaws before you let anyone else love them too.

You are here to have fun and be young and make mistakes. If a nice person comes along, you should get to know them and see what happens, but you shouldn’t put any pressure on yourself to find your future soulmate. Go plan some adventures of your own first, whether they are university, traveling, writing that novel you always promised yourself you would write, overcoming challenges you have always wanted to beat. While you are young and single and growing into a beautiful young woman, go grab life by the horns! Chances are, when you are doing something you love, love will find you. So here’s to all you gorgeous single ladies, and wishing you all the happiness and adventure in the world.

Cathee Potter lives in a small town in the Northern English countryside (in the actual birthplace of William Wordsworth). She is very sporty, loves to write poetry, and has a dream of one day having a big publishing deal and being a proud owner of lots of pairs of Charlotte Olympia shoes.

(Images via here, here, here, and here.)