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The Daily Tar Heel

Column: L is for 'Learning to love yourself'

DTH Photo Illustration. "Your special someone could be right here on campus — or in the mirror."

In high school, I didn’t date at all.

I was super into school and getting into a good college. Or at least, that’s the excuse I would give for my lack of dating experience.

Fast forward to now: I’m in said "good college" and still have zero dating experience.

There are certain challenges I’ve discovered that come with having a lack of dating experience. Hopefully they will resonate with some of you and remind you that you're not alone in navigating a love life in college.

One of the toughest hurdles you have to face is that people will show interest in you — yes, it may come as a shock, but believe it. I spent so much time in high school wondering what that would feel like that, once I experienced it, I was in denial. It felt wrong that someone was showing interest in me. My immediate instinct was to run in the other direction and close myself off. 

Picking up on romantic cues goes hand in hand with this. 

I am a romantic comedy connoisseur, so I would like to think I’d be good at picking up on cues. That is far from the truth. I tend to spend an excessive amount of time questioning the cue instead of just reacting to it. On the off chance I do react, I gaslight myself into thinking I’m interpreting it wrongly.

Throughout high school, I didn’t have a ton of close guy friends. When I came to college, interacting with guys felt slightly awkward. My lack of dating experience made it difficult to have male friendships, as I subconsciously associated male attention with romance.

As I grew up and saw everyone around me going on dates, getting asked to go to prom or reaching certain milestones, I started to feel like something was wrong with me. Now, this low self-esteem occasionally creeps up when I am trying to pursue someone.

It's easy to compare yourself to others and wonder why the person you’re pursuing would ever be interested in going out with “someone like you.” Thoughts like these are hard to combat, but remember that your self worth should come from yourself — not a partner. Negative self-talk doesn't just deplete your self-esteem, but it also negatively impacts your dating experience.

There have also been pros to my lack of high school dating experience. 

When most of my peers had their trials and errors in relationships, I had time to "date myself." I was able to take care of myself mentally and physically, invest time into hobbies or new activities, and, most importantly, learn to love being alone. At the end of the day, you will always have yourself to fall back on.

Since the dating pool in college is much larger, I thought dating and gaining romantic experience would be a lot easier. However, as my friends and I have found, dating in college has proven to be difficult, no matter who you are or how much experience you have.

For those of you with a lot of romantic history and those of you without, remember that "dating yourself" is the first step to having a good relationship with a partner. Sometimes it's all the dating experience you need. 

Your special someone could be right here on campus — or in the mirror.


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