Searching for Happiness Without Dependence

Autumn Sorrentino, Editor-in-Chief

Dear Bonnie,
We are now well into the new year, and I’ve fully embraced the ideology of “New Year, New Me.” I’ve started drinking more water, exercising daily, and journaling to express myself fully. I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone and have even started putting myself out there. I want to embrace this new year fully, but how do I go about starting new relationships?
Yours truly,

Dear Clyde,
Relationships aren’t easy– and they’re even more difficult in high school. Navigating yourself as it is proves to be no simple task, not to mention adding someone else. However, whether you’re single, in a relationship, or facing complications, there is hope on the horizon.
No matter what your love life might look like, it all begins with internal reflection.
It is critical to be comfortable with yourself before entering a relationship. It is almost guaranteed that you and the other person will find at least one point of conflict over the course of your relationships. Sometimes, it’s small– he didn’t pay for your date or she talks too much. These hiccups can be solved with a conversation about boundaries and expectations.
Worse, though, dating can often bring out a side you never saw– this might include a conflict in morals or values. In this case, staying true to what you believe in is everything. If it truly was “meant to be,” the issue (though it may never be solved) can be dulled with time and respectful conversation. You have to realize that you cannot change your partner, no matter how hard you try– and, likewise, your partner should not try to change you. Have a conversation early on about your strongest principles and what you want out of the relationship. If you find that it doesn’t work out the way you hoped it would, that’s okay– you’ve got your entire life to find someone who will treat you and your ethics the way you deserve.
That being said, it’s okay to be single! So many teens jump from relationship to relationship, afraid to be alone. This fear is natural, but it doesn’t require a relationship status to settle. You may find that it’s easier to be single than to deal with the daily drama of having a significant other (if anything, it’s certainly cheaper). Hang out with your friends, your family, your pets, and those who are close to you! Do what you love to do! Spend your time exactly how you want to! No longer will you feel tied down to one person, or one activity, simply because they asked you to. High school is an incredibly busy time of life– make the most of it without a relationship holding you back!
Even those who feel strongest about this, though, might falter on the lonely nights when you want someone to cuddle. In that case, take some time to call a friend, snuggle with your blankets, or eat some ice cream, but don’t feel obligated to seek companionship because you’re scared of the feeling of solidarity. Again, being comfortable with being physically alone is the definition of independence– and it’s one of the most powerful lessons out there.
So, whatever you may be facing right now, just remember that you’re never truly alone– and that you are the main character in your story. Write it how you want, and don’t feel bad about somebody else disagreeing.
You’ll get there. Keep looking up.
Your friend,