It can be frustrating watching your friends get into relationship after relationship when you have never experienced one before. You might feel like there's something wrong with you or that you are falling behind your peers. In reality, not having been in a romantic relationship is more common than you think.
Seeing other people around you engage in romantic relationships can feel isolating. It can feel like everyone around you is experiencing new and exciting things that you aren't. While it can feel like you are the only one left out of these experiences, these feelings are common among young adults. The Education Department found that "as many as 40% of young people feel lonely."
Society often puts pressure on us, making us feel like we are “weird” or “wrong” if we haven't experienced certain things by certain ages. You might have internal milestones you've subconsciously set because of these external pressures. Some of these might include:
Have your first kiss before you turn 20
Have a serious relationship that lasts more than a year
Go on more than one date in college
Have a partner to take to a formal dance
If circumstances make it so that you cannot meet these expectations, you might feel like you are falling behind or have missed your chance to experience these things in your youth. Luckily, the reality of the situation is that there are no set milestones that you have to meet by a certain age. You have more than enough time to find the love that you deserve.
If you are having a difficult time finding a romantic partner and even just finding friends, you might need to take some time to look at your family background and history. A study by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) found that how your parents chose to teach, discipline, and communicate affected future relationships. Those in the study who had positive family climates and parenting had an easier time finding healthy relationships when compared to those who didn't.
The home you grew up in can affect how you learn to communicate, what boundaries are acceptable, how to treat others and yourself with respect, and how to engage in relationships in the first place. If you feel like your family history might be affecting your ability to form meaningful, healthy relationships, therapy can help you erase bad habits like poor communication, passive-aggressiveness, and abusive tendencies.
While it can be tempting to rush into the first opportunity you find, waiting for a healthy relationship will benefit you in the long run. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that “one in four adolescents reports verbal, emotional, physical, or sexual dating violence each year." According to the Journal of Injury and Violence Research, adolescent dating violence can ”be a predictor of intimate partner violence in adulthood."
By choosing your relationships carefully when the opportunity does arise, you can set yourself up for success in future relationships. If you are eager to actively seek out a romantic relationship, being aware of unhealthy traits of bad relationships can help protect you so that you don't settle for less than you deserve.
If you don't have experience with romantic relationships, you might find yourself feeling overwhelmed by the idea of learning how to spot unhealthy and healthy traits. However, your lack of experience doesn't mean that you have to be unprepared. A few signs of red flags in a relationship include:
They have to know where you are 24/7: Needing to know your location, who you are with, and what you are doing at all times can be a sign that your partner is abusive and controlling.
Name-calling or condescending conversations: Your partner should never make you feel less than or stupid, even if you make a mistake.
Disrespecting your belongings or time: If your partner doesn't show respect for your belongings or dislikes how you spend your time, they may not respect you as a person.
Threats: A person who loves you will not threaten you. If a partner even threatens to hurt themselves if you try to leave them, it is best to alert the appropriate authorities about the threat and ensure your safety.
On the other hand, a healthy relationship will make you feel safe, comforted, loved, and at peace. You should enjoy spending time with the person rather than feeling stressed around them.
It is normal not to experience a romantic relationship in your teens or even twenties. It is important to know that you haven't missed your chance to have beautiful, fun experiences with exciting and loving people. Spending time single can help you develop healthy independence, give you an opportunity to understand who you are, and allow you to decide what you value in a future relationship. In the meantime, if you desire a relationship, you can take active steps towards finding one, like working through past trauma in therapy, experimenting with online dating, and practicing visualization.
Not having experience with romantic relationships or dating can make you feel isolated, lonely, and left behind. You might not understand why it seems that all of your friends are engaging in romantic relationships, and you haven't. Understanding that a lack of experience with romantic relationships is normal during your teens and twenties can help you feel less alone or "weird." You can prepare for future relationships by taking a look at how your family's parenting techniques might have affected your dating life and focusing on exactly what you want in a romantic relationship. At SokyaHealth, we understand how painful it can feel to wonder if you will ever experience being in a relationship. Our licensed, compassionate therapists can help you work on concrete steps to prepare you for healthy relationships. We can help you gain confidence in yourself and hope for future opportunities. Call us today for more information at (877) 840-6956.