Want relationship advice? Those who say yes are in luck, but the answer doesn’t actually matter; tips abound from all directions, regardless.
Even though relationships are generally private and between individuals, that doesn’t stop family members, friends, tabloids, magazines, television characters, and more from offering ideas as to what relationships should mean and how they should work. There is always a demand for this kind of media and advice, especially as the boundaries of privacy become more and more blurred by social media. Relationships are seen as so valuable and complicated that it is often impossible to think of wading through one successfully without the help of others to assess its progress.
I can’t deny that I am writing this because I too have ideas on the best way to experience relationships, especially as a college student. I see them as opportunities to learn and grow; a campus environment enables their dynamic to be very fun and low-stress.
I truly believe, however, that many approaches are valuable, and what constitutes a successful relationship is just as diverse as the individuals that pursue them. My advice, therefore, is to experience relationships without taking advice. I realize that this entire column may contradict that sentiment, and that in some cases, a lot can be gleaned from the counsel of others with more experience, especially when problems arise. However, my main point is that there is no right answer when it comes to relationships and that a less cautious and formulaic approach to them could be valuable.
During my senior year of high school, I followed the blog of a popular local photographer, who, at just a year older than me, was already well-known for being a successful young entrepreneur and was often invited to workshops across the country to speak. She had many interesting posts, but the only one I still regularly consider is one she made on relationships. As someone who had been in the same relationship for four years, she condemned those who entered them without that kind of longevity in mind as superficial and undedicated. For someone who is considered to be incredibly mature, even in comparison to her older competitors and peers, I actually consider this to be an immature and fairly limited view. However, it is not an unpopular one. Even as other types of relationships are increasingly portrayed in media, they are done so ways that say, look, even though hundreds of thousands of audience members find these appealing, they’re humorous because they’re not what you really should want. Maybe even the characters in those types of relationships won’t want them anymore by the end of the movie. Trainwreck, anyone?
The reality is that the ultimate determination of the worth of any relationship is only by the individuals involved. College students still have a lot to learn about, well, everything, and relationships are no exception. There will be plenty of time when mistakes carry more impactful consequences, so it’s great to be able to take advantage of the chance for realness and vulnerability — but don’t take my advice.