Updated: Nov 3, 2019
Other people putting pressure on our relationships. We have all been there. As soon as you tell someone you are in a relationship, they start asking if you think that person is the one, or if you can see yourself getting married to them and having kids with them. As soon as you move in with someone, people are asking you when you/they are planning to pop the question and if/when that does happen, they are asking you where you are planning on getting married, are you going to get married in a church, if not then why not, where are you going to have the reception, is it going to be an indoor or outdoor wedding, who are the bridesmaids going to be, who is the best man going to be, who are going to be the ushers, what is the bride's dress going to look like, what is the colour/theme of the wedding going to be, are you going to have a spring/summer/autumn/winter wedding, if not one season then why not another season, and so on and so on. And do not even get me started on how you have only been married less than five minutes and people are already asking you when you are planning on having kids and why you have not had any yet.
Some relationships are also subject to different kinds of pressures. When I was with my last boyfriend, it was our friends who were constantly trying to put pressure on us to reach certain milestones in our relationship. They were constantly asking us if we had done certain things that I would never dream of asking them if they had done. I believe that the things they were asking that should be kept between the two people in the relationship and that other people should mind their own business and should not be asking questions about someone else's relationship unless that person actually goes to them because they want to talk to them about something in their relationship. I do not need other people talking about me and laughing at me behind my back just because they think we have not done things in my relationship that society deems as something we should have done. People should be allowed to reach whatever milestone in whatever order they want. People get judged for doing things too soon in a relationship and others get judged for doing things much later on in a relationship. Does it really matter? No. I really hated the way our friends would constantly ask us whether or not we had done something and would either continuously ask us why not if we had not done it and would make us feel bad about it; or if we had done it they would laugh about it (not in a good way) which would make me want to get up and walk away. Everyone goes at their own pace and just because they may have done something earlier or later on in their relationship than I did, does not mean that they can belittle me and my partner just because we did things different to them.
I think one of the main reasons why people put a lot of pressure on couples to reach certain milestones in their relationship is due to social media. As social media is such a big part of the majority of the population's lives (which it really should not be), we often see many people posting about their relationship online that it puts a lot of pressure on the rest of us to live up to what we see. There are even accounts that have been made purely to post about things that are 'relationship goals', which then causes others to look at what they have posted and to question why they do not have that. We see these people who have the most amazing engagement or the most perfect wedding or a beautiful family and it makes us question our entire lives and why our engagement was just a quick discussion of if it was time for us to think about getting married and agreeing that we wanted it or why our wedding consisted of a budget hotel in a room full of people we are not particularly close to or why our kids just had a full on meltdown in the middle of Asda (other supermarket brands are available). What we see on social media is not real life. Real life is everything I have just said. People online only show the 'goals' part of their lives, not the struggles that all of us go through on a daily basis. So when you see one couple online who have achieved something in their relationship that makes you feel that you need to achieve the same thing, just take a moment to look at what you have already achieved. Do not compare yourself to others. Just focus on you as that is the only thing you need to focus on.
I also think another of the main things that puts pressure on a person's relationship is their family. Last year my cousin got married (the first, and only, of my cousin's to get married) and as I was leaving my Uncle said to me 'you will be next'. Now, please bear in mind at the time I was only eighteen and did not have a boyfriend. Well, my current situation is still the same, except I have aged a year. But I feel him saying that put a lot of pressure on me as it made me feel like I need to find a boyfriend and whoever that was would be the person I end up marrying. I think for someone my age to find the person they are going to marry is quite young, although credit where credit is due to anyone who has managed to do that. I think the whole marrying your childhood sweetheart thing is something that many people want to be able to tell their kids and that it is the perfect romantic story. But in reality, how many people actually marry their childhood sweetheart? Sure, it may have been a thing one hundred years ago when people were getting married and starting a family a lot earlier on than what we do now, but nowadays most people are not meeting the person they are going to start a family with until their late 20's or at some point in their 30's.
It also does not help when a family member asks you why you do not have a partner yet. A few weeks ago my Grandma asked me if I have a boyfriend and when I said I did not she told me she thought I would have as she thought I would have met someone at university. Now, you may think that this is a fairly innocent statement, which to be fair it is. However, this kind of made me feel a bit like a failure as I have been at university for a year and have not met anyone, which I was under the impression that I would. I feel like this has now put a lot of pressure on me to meet someone in my second or third year at university as once I enter the world of work, it may not give me a lot of chance to meet anyone.
Members of a family do have a lot of opinions on the relationships of their other family members, particularly, I feel, those from the millennial generation. I am not entirely sure if I am part of this generation (I was born in 2000) as some say I am, some say I am not, and I have also seen somewhere that I am in the post-millennial generation which I did not even know was a generation (the main generation that I am apparently in is Generation Z, which is what post-millennial apparently is). But I do feel that even if I am not part of the millennial generation, those people in whatever generation I am in who are around the same age as me are now starting to get a lot of relationship pressure put on them by their family members. I think they think that just because they had reached certain relationship milestones by that stage in their life, means that their family member should have also reached that milestone. I think they fail to realise that we are in a whole new era now and that how they did things then is completely different to how we do things now. I do also think that seeing others in our family reach a milestone, such as my cousin getting married at 24 and having her first child at 25, does put pressures on us to make the same achievements, when realistically that is never going to happen to me (at least not by the age of 25 anyway). But it is not her fault that I feel this pressure, it is the pressure I put on myself to reach this milestone by 25.
So yes, I do think it is the pressure that others put on couples to reach certain milestones in their relationship puts pressure on their relationship. I think all of the above factors really do have an impact on their ever-mounting pressure that we all feel at some point in our lives. I think we need to stop listening to the opinions of others and we need to stop finding pressure from social media to have the 'perfect' relationship when we all know this is impossible. Nobody but you knows what goes on behind the scenes of your relationship. They may be questioning why you have not yet moved in together, but you may have just put in an offer on a house. They may be questioning why you have not yet got engaged, but you or your partner may have already got a ring and is planning a proposal. They may be questioning why you have not yet had kids, but you may have just found out you are going to have a baby and are not ready to tell anyone yet.
Obviously I know some of these things will not necessarily happen. You may not ever want to get married or want to get married at some point but not right now. You may not be able to have children, may not be ready for children, or may not want children at all. But none of these things matter. It is what milestones you deem appropriate to reach in your relationship and when you reach them that are most important.
Love Beth xx