Photo C/O Lucrezia Carnelos
By Rachel Lieske, Contributor
The popular astrology app CoStar is known for daily insights that are customized according to a user’s astrological chart. Every day at 10:37 am, CoStar sends me daily affirmations, recently with a recurring theme surrounding “pressure in love.” I usually shrug off the AI-generated insights, but the idea of “pressure in love” echoed in my mind—it felt symbolic of young love, and everything it represents, and caught my attention.
There’s a common narrative that persists around young love. Finding love that lasts in your adolescence is the one way to create a fairytale ending. Needless to say, a fairytale ending is merely a fictional account. There is a lot of love rhetoric echoed in our culture like “you’ll find love once you stop looking”, but aren’t we supposed to be finding love now, just as many of our parents did at our age?
Like any frantic Gen Z, I texted all of my friends and asked them if they felt “pressure in love” and if they felt that there was an inherited timeline to find it. As it turned out, most of my single friends were pessimistic about finding love and felt a pressure weighing them down. Here’s what they had to say.
“There’s a lot of pressure regarding the demographic and social aspect of it all. If you’re in a city that is full of people your age and your living the typical university lifestyle then it should be easy to find a significant other, but it’s really not.” – Allie, 20
“[University] seems like a perfect time to meet people, and a lot of people are finding love. At the end of the day, media makes love seem like this whole encompassing thing that everyone craves but I’m not so certain it’s the end all be all.” – Robyn, 19
“I think the pressure comes more internally than externally, especially when I see people who have had lots of relationships in high school and university and I feel like now there’s less time to find my ‘soul mate’. If those people have been through so many relationships and haven’t found the one, how can I with less time?” – Taylor, 20
“There’s a lot of cultural pressures because for me, my parents are Russian and there’s an unspoken standard that you will find a person to marry within university and if you can’t, it’s like, ‘Okay, what’s wrong with you?’”- Devon, 21
Coincidently, most of my friends who were in relationships said that they never felt pressured to be in relationships. Instead, romantic love randomly found its way into their lives. However, they experienced a different sort of pressure; a pressure to experience single life fully in university.
“There’s more of a pressure to not find love because of single culture being so dominant with university nightlife and online dating!” – Alex, 20
“Finding love shouldn’t have a timeline to it. It shouldn’t be a race. If you don’t find love by 25 it doesn’t mean that you’re undesirable!” – Vanessa, 20
“I felt more pressure to be dating than to find true love. I didn’t feel like I needed a soulmate, but I didn’t want to get to a point where I felt so much less experienced than everyone else that dating would feel impossible later on,”- Quinn, 20
“The short answer is no, I don’t feel the pressure to find love in university but I’ve been in a relationship most of my time at school, in which the first one was very all-consuming and overbearing so I actually felt the pressure to be single for once.” -Mary, 20
It’s undeniable that our adolescence is a time of experimentation when it comes to love. We may make dumb decisions that we come to regret, but we can use the lessons from our successes and failures to help navigate the world of dating. Although past successes and failures help us navigate new relationships the pressure still persists: to find something real, raw, lasting and most importantly, loving.
Other pressures come from trying to understand how to balance personal growth and romantic growth. In the infancy of our adult lives, we underestimate how many commitments we already have, and how large of a commitment love is. At some point, we have to give up on some of our commitments, and most of the time it’s a battle between love or loss.
When we open our hearts to love, we also open our hearts to loss. Inevitably we might feel a combination of both. Choosing love is an act of bravery that deserves credit for its commitment to vulnerability and its gamble with loss. The pressure can be grave and intimidating but somehow always finds its way into our lives, in this quest for love or something that feels like it.
This article is part of our Sex and the Steel City, our annual sex-positive issue. Click here to read more content from the special issue.