Author's Note: This is Reaction Paper-Essay we were assigned to do for our English class. It is about reacting a a social issue in our society. I picked "the pressure of having a boyfriend or girlfriend" because it applies a lot to teenagers-well, in our country anyway


By: Michelle Del Rosario

An average day for me would take place in only three places: my home, my school and the mall. My usual dose of couple sightings are found in the latter two. Couples are usually the first thing I see upon reaching school in the morning—either cuddling in the elevators, holding hands in the corridors or gazing into each other's eyes in the amphitheater—and often the last thing I see before hopping into the female section of the LRT and MRT. Sometimes when I don't happen to sit in the female section, I spot some couples in the regular cars all smiles and all laughs. And doesn't stop there! Upon reaching the mall, where I am supposed to wait for my father to fetch me, I see them shopping for clothes, sharing ice cream, and just plain walking around—while holding hands, of course, and you just know: they're a couple. When I meet new people, sometimes the first thing they would as me is if I am in a relationship, and a good share of them have responded to my answer of "no" with odd looks of disbelief. So, may I ask, what were those looks about? And why do couples seem to suddenly be infesting our society, with new ones sprouting every other day? Why is it that being my single, suddenly, emits pity from those who are not? Since when was a necessity to have a significant other? For me, I think this pressure of having a boyfriend started when I was in my sophomore year in high school. A friend and I had the same problem and we called it Coupleseenophobia, a fake and made-up phobia, to describe the sad, jealous feeling we had when we saw a couple. I thought, back then, that it had only been the two of us, but as I soon discovered, we were not alone. It turns out that many other teenagers experience the same "phobia". And why is this so? It's probably because of all the media we are exposed to. There are so many books, TV shows and films in the Romance genre that show and expose us to the feeling and pressure of having a boyfriend or girlfriend. And, of course, we get hooked by it, wanting to have something similar in our own lives as well. All around us are subliminal signs that indicate that we teenagers must somehow be in a relationship to either be in-trend with our peers, accepted in the eyes of our friends and family, feel successful or beautiful or be happy; but I, however, believe that those who think so are putting themselves up for disappointment, prove themselves wrong or may just be digging into their own graves.

This pressure of having a boyfriend or girlfriend is based on myths that have got a lot of people believing that having a significant other is the solution to their problems. First, is the myth that having an exclusive relationship with someone will make one feel secure. True? This is, most likely, not untrue; especially with teenagers. Many individuals become so dependent on their boyfriends or girlfriends that while their identity as a couple evolves, their individual identities slowly diminish or are never even formed. Sure, it's fun in the beginning but a few months or even years after, if the couple breaks apart, they would have spent so much time with each other that they wouldn't know where to start in living their own individual lives. Because most of their time was devoted to the other, it would suddenly seem to them that they have so much time on their hands and not know what to do with it, and instead of putting it into good, productive use, they instead wonder about who they are and trying to form their own identities in the world.

Another myth is the acceptability myth: that having a boyfriend or girlfriend would make one seem more acceptable to their family and friends; that having a significant other would not deem them as a loser in their eyes. If it is the acceptance of people one considers close to them that they are after, there are other ways to gain this acceptance; something that one can earn on their own. Wouldn't it be, in a way, using another person if one, say, gets a boyfriend or girlfriend? Because the person in question wouldn't be getting into the relationship for the right reasons and only for the sole purpose of being welcome or all right with his or her family and friends. Shouldn't the real question be why one's family and friends have a pre-requisite for him/her to be welcome among them? And it seems that nowadays "coupling" has become a trend just because everyone else has one. It is almost like being in-trend with the latest fashion, except in this case, one is in-trend at the expense of another human being. It defeats the purpose of what a relationship is. This is probably why most relationships nowadays don't last for very long or do not end in good terms—because the couple got together so fast without knowing the important things that one bad factor immediately triggers the end of the relationship. This is probably best illustrated with couples that get together over the internet or through chat. Of course, they do not get to meet each other personally, and over the internet, they are able to alter their personality to other people. So, in effect, they never really get to meet the real personality of the other, and when they finally do meet, the person is probably not who they had been chatting with online. Being accepted by family, friends or society shouldn't be a reason of any couples getting together. They must think of what each individual prioritizes, and not what other people think. Sometimes—and it happens—that even if one finds a significant other they are still not accepted. Possibly, this time, because of the personality or the impression their boyfriend or girlfriend has displays to their peers and relatives.

Reasons of self-esteem are the third myth to why people seek an exclusive relationship; especially in our society when it is the men or the guys that approach the women or girls first. For girls, most believe that if they don't have a boyfriend, it means that no boys are attracted to them. By thinking that way, girls lower their self-esteem and have less self-worth, and the more they think about it, the deeper they sink. They will think that there is something about them that is either unattractive or something they don't have that is, and this is where girls start getting desperate: being paranoid about their weight, what they wear, how they smell and how they act around guys which are all very exhausting and quite stressful on a day-to-day basis, and the same goes for the boys. Both guys and girls will think that, just because they don't have a significant other, that they are never going to meet "the one" or will ever be able to catch anyone's eye. People feel that if they have some one to "call their own" they have no purpose in the world. This sometimes leads to over-pessimism, injecting negative thoughts in all aspects of one's life, and perhaps even depression, which is the cause of many teenage suicides all over the world—probably the most dangerous effect this "phobia" or this pressure to have a boyfriend or girlfriend.

And finally, the ultimate myth to Coupleseenophobia: having a boyfriend or girlfriend will make one happy; that having an exclusive relationship with someone would be the greatest, coolest thing on earth. There has been many a person to fall for this myth already. In the beginning of a "relationship", it might be all hugs and kisses, and it would seem really amazing at first. But, sadly, what most people don't realize is that eventually, relationships take work—especially for those who don't get to see each other that often. Many different couples have encountered so many different and, sometimes, unique problems and obstacles when it comes to their relationships. Whether it concerns time, distance, family, friends or maybe even jealousy, there are and always will be challenges to over come. Some couples don't foresee this in the beginning of course; because they may be too blinded by the initial feeling that being in a new relationship brings. Despite what pre-assumptions people may have about being in an exclusive relationship, some side-effects may be unavoidable. Just because one is "committed", does not guarantee them good grades, a happy family life or steady friendships; sometimes being in such a relationship may even cause the disappearance of these. It may happen that, later on, some couples feel choked around the other because of too much time together. It may also happen that, for couples that don't see each other often or usually have different schedules, that they plan special things on specific dates, but when those plans aren't executed or fulfilled properly, it leads to disappointment, evolves and may explode into a fight. And so, where has the happiness gone? Like most things, after the novelty has worn off, people forget why they wanted it in the first place, and the same may apply for exclusive relationships.

This pressure of having a boyfriend or girlfriend is still very much alive in our society. With new romance films and drama shows on television showing everyday, it is not a surprise that many people, both teenage and those above twenty are being coerced to find partners of their own. The term "single-hood" has now been given a, somewhat, negative connotation; implying that if one is single, he or she is not complete, accepted, beautiful, wanted, loved or happy. All these myths have stabbed today's society and is something nonsensical. Gone were the days where a single person was free to walk around without having to be looked at and possibly ridiculed for being un-attached, and the true purpose of being in a relationship has been replaced by the need to be in the band-wagon of one's peers. Single-hood, contrary to many people's beliefs, is not a curse, and it isn't something people should frown upon. There are so many things single people can do that committed people can't. There is so much liberty, freedom and enjoyment in being un-attached, and the time alone should truly be relished. Someone with no exclusive partner could easily make plans with their friends—people that they probably don't spend much time with if they were part of a couple—and single people have the freedom to choose what they really wanted to do without having to consult with someone else's preference, calendar or schedule. No one needs to worry about never finding a partner in the Big Picture of Life; because there is so much time to find the person they can really spend their life with. Just because someone is single, does not mean at all that it will last forever and it will only last until it is the right time for one to have a relationship that means more than just satisfying the myths. So one should just forget the trends and forget what anyone else thinks. If you, dear reader, are single and feel the pressure to find someone exclusive to you, don't fret; because there is so much more to life than wasting your time standing around and trying to hitch a ride with someone that probably isn't going to pick you up just yet. People must realize that time stops for no one and waiting around probably is not the best use of their time. They must keep walking to their destination, and if someone happens to give them a lift along the way, then that is great. At least they were able to get to some distance on their own without having to depend on someone for the ride there. And to know that when one has a boyfriend or girlfriend because they truly want and because they are really ready for the commitment—not to satisfy anyone else—is definitely the greatest myth buster of all.