Forget Nicholas Sparks, "The Notebook" or any other unrealistic expectation you may have conjured up in your mind about love at this point in your life. It’s all crap.
As 20-somethings, we are all fresh, new members of adult society, and as much as we may like to think we have it all figured out, we usually don’t — we are in a state of turbulence, change and growth, which means that even deciding what to have for lunch can sometimes seem like a life-altering decision.
Your love life is a depiction of these transitions, and that is entirely okay. In fact, it’s the way it should be. With that said, here are five things you should realize about love in your twenties:
1. These are your selfish years. Be selfish.
Now is the time in your life to make decisions — right or wrong — that suit you, not everyone else. While you drink and study your way through your undergraduate degree and beyond, you will realize that these will be the best years of your life; the years before reality sets in and you join the real world with its careers, mortgages, families, mini vans and major responsibilities.
So do yourself a favor and don’t waste your 20s drowning your sorrows in a tub of Ben and Jerry’s, a bottle of vodka and a box of tissues. Put to rest the constant complaints surrounding your love life.
If you spend all of your time focusing on someone else, you’ll rob yourself of the opportunity to do things that are entirely for you. Whether or not you're in a relationship, dating or single, get out there, do everything you can, be a little selfish and give yourself this chance to figure things out and establish who you are as an individual.
2. You are going to make mistakes.
We are all hypocrites and assh*les at some time or another when it comes to love and relationships. We will preach to everyone within earshot and then turn around and do what we warned someone else not to do. Why? Because most of us have to learn the hard way in order to learn at all. And that’s okay. A lot of us haven’t even figured ourselves out enough to know what we want or need in someone else.
You can convince yourself that you are exempt from this if you want, but the truth is, you probably aren’t. People aren't judging — and if they are, screw them. Embrace the uncertainty, as well as your mistakes. This is all a learning process, so welcome the experience.
Date every type of person, fall in and out of love, break up, make up, have a one-night stand — all of it. Things won’t always work out, but that’s the point. Don’t beat yourself up about it; love in your twenties will never be the end of the world and your mistakes will only help to steer you in the right direction.
3. You will fall in love with a complete assh*le.
Unless you are extremely lucky and equipped with amazing judgment, you will probably fall in love with a complete jerk and get your heart broken once, twice or maybe even multiple times. You will continuously try to see the best in other people, even when there might be nothing good there to see and you will probably feel like a total idiot after it’s all said and done.
This happens. I believe that everyone needs to date someone who is totally wrong for him or her at some point in life. It may suck to get your ass kicked romantically, but it will serve as a valuable lesson to never settle for less than you deserve.
After getting dragged around in the mud for however long we allow it, most of us will come to our senses and realize that those kinds of relationships are not worth the emotional hardship they cause. Then, when the rights ones come along, we will appreciate them even more and never look back.
4. It is okay to be single.
Being single for a few months or for a few years does not mean that you are destined to spend the rest of your life forever alone with your cats. I promise. Honestly, being single is actually awesome and until you get over the negative stigma associated with your single status and learn to love and embrace it, you probably aren't really ready for a relationship.
Being single shouldn't be about being lonely; it should be about doing whatever the hell you want. Own your independence — take on every opportunity and do everything you want to do without having to consider someone else. This doesn't mean you aren't cut out for a relationship or are un-datable — it means you are capable of standing on your own two feet and loving yourself without needing someone else. And that, quite frankly, is one of the most attractive traits anyone can possess.
5. Forget your timeline.
Do yourself a favor and let go of any specific romantic timelines you have set for yourself. This is not a facet of your life you should stress about with deadlines. Regardless of whether you’re single, in a long-term relationship, engaged or married, it doesn’t matter.
Don’t panic about not being in the place you expected to be romantically at any point in your twenties. You are only in the first quarter of life; wherever you are at right now, embrace the hell out of it. You will end up in the right place at the right time, some way or another. Don’t force the process — just enjoy it.