I’m cynical about love

Confused about your relationship life? Happy? Dating? Ready for winter? Need some advice?

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Dear Meredith, 

I am 21. I have dated and tried causal flings to escape the threat of loneliness. I tend to fall in love with the idea of people rather than their actual selves. I am aware that I have an avoidant attachment style when it comes to romance (I totally blame my parents for this). 

I love reading and writing about love, but I’ve never experienced it. How do you learn to let someone in when you’ve been raised by liars? I guess I am wondering if love is worth the price of having more people in life let you down.

How can I rewire this cynical perspective?

You can call me Frat Princess. All my best guy friends do.

– Frat Princess


It would help to surround yourself with people who are great to you. Pay attention to the kindness they show you and others.

If the people in your life don’t treat you and others well – if they’re behavior supports the idea that everyone is bound to let each other down – seek some new friends. I say this hoping that your nickname is a term of endearment. If your guy friends aren’t showing you respect – and if they’re not being honest to the people who care about them – maybe they’re not the best company.

At 21, everybody’s still figuring out who they are and how to manage relationships. Hurting someone’s feelings is inevitable. But respect and thoughtfulness helps. The more examples of healthy relationships I’ve seen in the world, the more optimistic I’ve felt about having them.

That’s my best brain-rewiring advice – to build the community that shows you what’s possible. Also, when talking about this, avoid the absolutes. You tend to fall for the idea of people, but that’s not something you always do. You don’t know what would happen if you met someone wonderful.

If your parents’ behavior follows you everywhere, look into therapy. We can learn to accept our family experience without letting it dictate all future decisions. Talking to a professional can help you figure out how.

– Meredith

Readers? Advice for someone who hasn’t experienced love at 21?

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