OPINION: Learning how to be in a healthy relationship in an era of hooking up

Chloe Wilson-Henline, Opinion Writer

Dating in this day and age is more complicated than ever. Meeting people organically is nerve-wracking and dating apps have a negative connotation associated with them. People associate dating with dread, and I was one of those people.

I was using dating apps as a way to find love but was constantly getting disappointed at every turn. Everyone I was matching with was more than likely looking for one thing – someone to hook up with.

That wasn’t something I was looking for at this point in my life. I was looking for a real connection. Swipe after swipe on Bumble, almost everyone’s bios included “looking for something casual.”

I have had my fair share of heartbreaks and failed dating experiences through dating apps and meeting people organically. I was ready to give up. I didn’t think love was an option for me until I met my current partner.

In the beginning stages of our relationship, I knew I had to change things about myself in order to make the relationship work. I needed to ensure I was communicating in a healthy, productive way, trusting them and opening up about my feelings.

In my previous relationships, all I knew was toxic behavior and shutting down when upset. I never felt like I could express how I felt because it would turn into a fight or the other person would be angry with me. This is something that many people in this era of dating experience.

I was constantly getting into relationships with people who had no desire to be monogamous which put these awful ideas of relationships into my head. I felt like there was something wrong with me. I felt like I was the problem.

I was never the problem. I was trying to change people. I was trying to make people want what I wanted. Everyone is on their own journey in life. Who am I to try and change that? This doesn’t make them terrible people. We were just looking for different things. I couldn’t change who they were or how they felt, but I could change how I approached dating and to who I was giving my time.

Learning how to be in a healthy relationship starts with self-reflection. Reflecting on past relationships and past behaviors can help you understand why you react in certain ways. I found that my relationship with my biological father played a huge role in how I approached relationships and love. I found that I felt unworthy of love and insecure due to my past relationships.

I had to unlearn that not everyone wants to hurt you. I had to put my heart on my sleeve and trust my partner. I had to trust that they weren’t doing things behind my back and were telling me the truth. I had to learn how to trust someone fully again.

I am lucky enough to have an understanding, thoughtful partner who understands that I am trying to unlearn these behaviors, and he is doing the same. We are patient with each other. Patience is key when maneuvering through the ups and downs of learning how to love properly. We talk about how we’re feeling, express our concerns and listen to each other. These concepts seem like common sense, right? But we are human, and we forget that our partner is with us, not against us. That is something I have to remind myself of all the time. My partner wants to learn and grow with me, not work against me.

We make each other feel heard. We make sure that the other knows they are loved. Learning how to be in a healthy relationship isn’t easy, but it is with the right person.

Chloe Wilson-Henline is an opinion writer. Contact her at [email protected].