I hate relationships. Realizing this as I'm in a happy, chill, no problems relationship made me finally question what is wrong with me. Or maybe just different. I’d isolated out any contributing factors because the guy I'm with is objectively amazing and I’m passionate about him, so it definitely is me. I remember a couple months in googling "I hate relationships" and reading these horribly written blog articles about being scared of commitment because of family problems or the remnants of a toxic dating history. None of that applies to me. My parents are happily married, I've never experienced something that made me "give up” on love and I have always loved commitment, loved committing to things....my whole life is full of commitments! It really is just the concept of being in a relationship that I hate. And I couldn't immediately explain it.
From observations of my friends growing up, everyone always wanted to be in a relationship. It was this intense thing starting around middle school and while I found the whole flirting, feelings, talking to someone, guessing game thing really fun... the idea of actually being with someone as a long-term thing and being invested in each other wasn't all that exciting. When one of my best friends found their person, I was genuinely happy and stoked with them!! I’ve always loved third wheeling and never felt jealous when someone I loved was happy. It made ME happy. But it wasn't something I necessarily wanted for myself.
All the times my single friends would rant about being SO annoyed at being single and wanting a boyfriend, I could never join in and just couldn't relate. Because I loved being single. It felt normal. It was my default. And I guarded it.
Any time I’ve been in a relationship it is because I’ve found a guy who is objectively amazing, it has always been about the person, never this desire to be in love.
And in a lot of ways… I don’t want to be in love. This is why.
1. I don't have time. I really value productivity and am passionate about a ton of things. I've been over-involved with sports teams, dance classes, academic teams, music lessons, church youth group, speech & debate, etc. since middle school. I love being a part of small groups, teams, competing, doing research and learning new skills. I love organizing Bible studies and being on leadership teams and all of growing up I LOVEEDD school and was obsessed with studying and reading, investing most of my time into that.
At 15 I started my YouTube channel and that cemented me having no free time indefinitely. Making one video takes about 20 hours and since I've had lots of periods of uploading twice a week, that's been a full time job added onto everything else. In high school and college I'd routinely get 3 hours of sleep, because I wanted to invest so much into my YouTube and working became like an addiction.
Productivity and involvement and studying—being in this trance-like space of a full schedule constantly working-immersed-in-ideas-super-busy-getting-things done—has always made me feel super alive! I LOVEE every part of my life and am never bored or lacking emotion. Throughout college I noticed that I'd always meet guys during summer session when I had less obligations with school. Otherwise, there were too many things I was not willing to sacrifice.
2. I hate infatuation. My boyfriend recently explained to me that he hates taking Nyquil because he HATES the feeling of right before it kicks in, pulling you against your will into becoming unconscious. That’s my exact feeling toward the emotions of being “in love.” Relationships pour into you excessive dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin that draw you away from things you're passionate about. And even from people you’re passionate about! Infatuation and the “honeymoon phase” of the relationship makes you want to talk to your person for hours and hours—these insane amounts of time— and to neglect other parts of your life and it makes you irrational. You become emotionally pulled away from obligations and people that are objectively important for you to prioritize, that you previously were super passionate and stoked about.
For teens and anyone in their 20s I don't know why my perspective of not seeking out and craving for that type of intense relationship is the minority viewpoint. Love means you will drop anything you’re working on if they need you. It is feeling their emotions, being extremely affected by what affects them. And it is more than just this impulsive investment, because infatuation can lead to a sacrificial love. Which is intrinsically being out of control: the same Nyquil feeling, when you start falling for someone, the sense of being pulled against your will into becoming emotionally intertwined is so uncomfortable for me.
3. I don't like leisure time. Or fun. For me, working is fun. Reading is fun. Cooking kale and going on my morning run and attending church is soooo fun. Making a really intense to-do list and having a super productive day is fun. Having philosophy discussions is life! Most people's approach to dating is watching movies or shows together and taking a ton of time off of life to do cute things and none of that super appeals to me. I don't watch TV, am never stoked to watch movies unless someone I'm with really wants to. I kind of see all of that as a waste of time. I'm too intense to vibe with most people's definition of dating.
4. I love being alone. I crave my independence and alone time to this absurd degree. Walking around in a public place with just my headphones and a book to read or my journal is perfection. Seeing other couples holding hands and having cute moments together doesn't immediately entice me.
I don't feel like I need to talk to someone or share everything that happens to me. I don't need people that much. And don't interpret me wrong I LOVEEE people. Best part of life! My friends are amazing, but when it comes to my internal life and day-to-day happenings, I function best processing everything on my own. And not at all in an unhealthy sense, I’m just engrained to be more in my own head with my emotions.
Expressing out loud in words how I feel about someone feels like inversing myself and it feels so unnatural at first. I feel in these textured dimensions that cannot be easily put into words and having to convert that into something tangible in order to deeply connect with someone is challenging.
5. Being creative is my emotional essence. All throughout my life it has made me intensely happy and fulfilled doing any sort of art form: viola, choir, ballet, sewing, writing novels and short stories and poems. I feel completely alive expressing myself in all these introvert-type emotional spaces. A lot of it isn't even official: just learning new songs on guitar in my room by myself, composing poems and creating new characters for stories I'll never show to anyone, journaling out prayers and annotating random spiritual epiphanies into the margins of my Bible.
Developing myself by myself, expressing my emotions into these different outlets makes me feel complete and content. I’ll never be at a place where I feel that I need a guy to make me feel known. My personality is defaulted to being emotionally independent. I give a lot of relationship advice through my YouTube, to a ton of my friends and friends of those friends. It's like I'm vicariously living through all these people's relationships, but for me I'm not intrinsically interested.
I produce better art when I'm broken and chaotic and feel isolated. My writing, videos, even the way I’m able to help others... any sort of negative or misunderstood emotional space makes me more effective at everything. It heightens my empathy and gives me more urgency to help people. So when I feel understood and happy and peaceful in a relationship, it's this other mode of existence that is less intense and less conducive to being creative.
Being in a relationship has always correlated with a decrease in my YouTube uploads, a decrease in the amount of writing I produce and the books I'm able to read. I never do thing half-way, so I'm either talking to some guy and it's chill I don't care not invested, or it is this HUGE emotional commitment that invades me… and being torn in any way away from my artistic introverted self is something I’ll resist. Being in a relationship is a completely different emotional essence for me and something that takes a lot of adjusting. One of my best friends told me once she functioned emotionally so much better in a relationship, and that was this bizarre reality. I am the opposite.
6. I’m Bipolar. Relationships mess up my bipolar and trigger episodes. Someone can be the most peaceful person, but simply by them making me happy it destabilizes my brain. Serotonin and dopamine are the brain chemicals of infatuation and these are the same pathways targeted by antidepressants, which make people with Bipolar go manic. So getting into any relationship will make me go manic if I don’t add on stronger meds. When single, I can be on minimal meds and be safely hypomanic much of the time, but a relationship pushes me into this out of reality space and requires me to be more medicated, which makes my personality less passionate and creative.
There are a lot more aspects to this—that I’ve detailed in these videos—but slight mood fluctuations in Bipolar make you go up into hypersexuality or down into emotional detachment, which means any relationship will feel unstable. Being scared you will hurt someone by cheating on them if you go manic, not ever knowing 100% if you’re attracted to him or just hypomanic, feeling unwanted when you’re in depression, and forcing yourself to stay with someone when your brain is screaming at you to break it off, forcing you so hard to believe you don’t care about them at all… is this insane level of emotionally draining and often feels like a war going on in your head. Being able to breathe within that noise and learning to trust and hold onto someone when you feel complete apathy is really hard and something I rarely feel is worth it.
7. The need to be in control. This is a legitimate problem and sort of dark. My therapist asked me last year if I believed it was even possible for me to be in a relationship without stealing all of the power. I paused and said to her "I don't know." If you've never been to therapy, you might not get the severity of this. Therapists are supposed to emulate non-judgment and unconditional positive regard the entire session. They RARELY share their true thoughts on something. They're just not supposed to react.
Yet my therapist was feeding me the most loaded question after I'd explained to her my history: how I’m always the one to be more in control, how I'm never the one to get broken up with, how several guys have described me as "manipulative" and how the week before I'd worded things in a way to get a guy to ghost me so I didn't have to reject him. We all have messed up parts of us. And this is one of mine. I need to feel powerful, because I'm not down to trust someone enough to give them the power to emotionally destroy me.
There are lots of different gradients of trust and it's super rare for me to find someone who I deem emotionally competent to not only not accidently screw me over emotionally but also to be able to process my emotions without making me feel wrong. I’ve lived through a lot of brokenness and cry a ton and most people have defaults to invalidate other’s emotional realities. I’d rather not deal with someone and just process my emotions on my own by writing and listening to music and praying. When I’m in control of my own emotional support I don’t invalidate or hurt myself.
8. I hate romance. I’m obscenely PDA because physical touch is my love language, but when it comes to any other relationship-y type thing I’m turned off. I want to discuss philosophy and theology and Greek etymology. I want to work next to each other, each immersed in what we’re passionate about, existing in silence together. But I don’t want love songs and dancing and hand-written letters and Instagram posts and gender roles of being pursued and being told I’m beautiful. I want to feel so extremely close to someone and know these insane depths of who they are, and I want to be me and him to be whoever he is.
Accepting that I'm just not a romantic person and don't need to conform gives me a lot of freedom. I don't want to facetime every night. I don't understand the concept of gifts. I don’t need to always feel strongly to be committed. I value consistent actions over words said to me. When my boyfriend confessed how he's just not one to give a girl flowers, it made me SO happy. Because he's like me: passionate and feeling so extreme, but a workaholic and intellectual at heart and someone who has a lot of aspects of him that are super far from being a normal human.
One of the songs off the new Kelsea Ballerini album is called “I Hate Love Songs” and she emulates a lot of the essence of how I feel. She hates cliché relationship stuff and any amount of feeling controlled, but the end of the chorus encompasses how I feel surrendering to that Nyquil-like pull: “I hate love songs, but I love you.”