5 Ways You Think About Relationships, As Told By What Age You Are

Distributed by Paramount Pictures

If you're a 20-something, you've probably noticed by now how every passing year makes you feel 10 times wiser — that is, if you're doing it right.

Either way, I think we can all safely agree that the way we were dating when we were 20 is far different from how we look at it as a 25-year-old.

Hopefully you can see yourself in the progression of some of these, and you can use it as a way to pat yourself on the back for doing this whole "I'm an adult thing" right.

I'm going to start at age 15 because let's be honest: Nothing sexy happened to you before you could drive a car.

Ages 15-18: WTF Am I Doing?

Ahh, high school.

This is when everything's new, and having a boyfriend actually means something because you can do more than smile at each other in the school hallway.

One of you most likely has a car, or at least you can find one to drive to the movies together.

Your first makeout in the movies was probably awful, and you were convinced something was wrong with you and you'd hate making out forever.

But, you quickly learned you weren't the problem; this guy just didn't know how to control his spit yet.

The person you date in high school is someone you think is cute. Most likely, your friend talked to his friend, and that's what set you two up. (Don't knock this method. Sometimes, it still works in adulthood.)

When you hold hands in the hallways, you feel like the luckiest, most popular girl alive — even if your guy of choice is the weird one who carries his acoustic guitar around in between classes.

At this age, guys aren't broken yet (neither are we!), and you're probably one of the first girls he's ever been into. (Meaning, yes, you get grocery store flowers on Valentine's Day).

You probably broke up because his friends wanted him to be single again and told him he didn't need you, or because you started liking his much cuter friend who's on the football team.

Either way, you were heartbroken for MONTHS, and yes, your AIM status was about him.

Ages 19-20: A Constant Need For Excitement

This is a very crucial stage.

You're probably just entering college, and you're ~not a girl, not yet a woman.~

Therefore, you're ready to date some men, but really, you only know how to handle boys.

Ah, boys it is!

Enter the guy who knows everyone on his dorm's floor.

The first two semesters of college are all about new experiences, and you're trying to get to know as many people as possible.

Hooking up with this guy opens the door to meeting dozens of new people, so you're down to meet up at 1 am on Saturday night.

But, then again, your parents' story about how they were college sweethearts is playing around in your head at all times. Every guy you meet could be #TheOne, after all.

Who are you to step in the way of your own destiny?

When you're sober, you realize this new guy you're dating is far from soulmate material.

But when you're drunk (which you always are), you slur as you try to get him to commit to you and only you.

Eventually, what breaks you up is some drunken fight where you both accidentally reveal you've already slept with other people. (Oops.)

Welcome to four more years of running into this loser at parties.

Ages 20-23: Could This Be Love?

You are literally an adult.

You know so many adult things, and after YEARS of f*ckboy torment, you believe you have enough knowledge and wisdom to finally have love enter your life.

This is the age where you date a guy all your friends hate, but you DGAF what those single, sad bitches think. (JK, BFFS for life, obviously.)

You met him at a party, and he was definitely outside taking a cigarette break by himself.

You decide to bum one off him for the sake of talking to him and seeming like beautiful outcasts together.

He doesn't give you a lot of conversation, but he lights your cigarette for you like a damn gentleman. You're convinced you two just started the next great American love story.

Months later, you're still seeing him, but for some reason, he's not your boyfriend yet.

You're just as jaded as he is, so you understand he needs time to accept love into his moto jacket leather heart.

Sometimes he's really mean to you, but you take it because you know he's just troubled.

You think he really loves you, but he just doesn't know how to express it.

You two are THE Chuck and Blair of your college, and trials and tribulations keep your adventure-seeking heart pounding, as you live the mundane life of going to classes at a private university.

Life is so hard for you, and all you want to do is be in love. You're convinced that everything will be okay.

You two maybe make it official for about six months, but when he starts acting like he's too busy for you, you dump him out of spite because OF COURSE he's not going to let you go.

When he doesn't fight to get back together, you'll realize the true nature of what your relationship was: immature.

Ages 23-25: You Know What You Want

This is the age when you realize you seriously knew absolutely nothing about dating before this moment.

I knew I had officially grown up the first time I was strong enough to break things off with a guy who was rude to me.

Girls, if a guy ever belittles you, disrespects you, curses at you or calls you any kind of name, he is not the one for you.

This should go for guys as well.

If a girl is unnecessarily rude to you, belittles you, causes any kind of scene in front of your friends or starts limiting who you can hang out with, she's probably not the one for you.

I can honestly say when a girl really likes a guy, she will never rudely put him down for anything, even if she hates the fact that he's still living in his parents' basement.

The key to a healthy relationship is being able to understand each other's point of view.

When you were younger, you were probably more partial to taking the guy's POV. If he's acting like a d*ck, he's probably just tortured and doesn't know how to express his true love for you, right?


Growing up is all about knowing the true definition of your deal breakers.

At this age, the one you love can dress like he believes Target is the fashion mecca of America, and you'll still love him because you finally realize that stuff doesn't matter.

What matters is always feeling like you can share your opinion with him without a fight breaking out.

If that's not in the cards for you two, you know you need to move on.

It's insane how every year of your 20s feels like three years, but trust me, you're learning so many things.

Ages 25-30: This Is Adulting

This is the love people write poems about, and you both always show up when you say you will.

Some of that "showing up" involves attending his older sister's wine and cheese parties, and him retiring his striped polo shirt for a chambray button-down at your birthday party. (But hey, it was his idea, not yours.)

You absolutely love having each other on your arms at work parties, and you're both starting to get serious about your futures.

If you're single and closer to your 30s, you will only date a guy with an impressive 401(k), and him being in a band is no longer as cool as you once thought it was.

Your deal breaker no longer revolves around your friends' opinions of him, but if he has health insurance.

Guys who have their own one-bedroom apartments (sans roommates) automatically jump to the top of your scorecard.

When you were 25, having kids seemed eons away, but now you and your partner have to have "the discussion" if the relationship pushes past the year mark.

Whatever stage you find yourself in, have the courage to get yourself out of a situation that's not good for you.

As you grow up, you should realize being in a relationship is more about who can add the most happiness to your life, rather than, "this seems to be it, so I guess he's good enough."

As long as you find yourself growing throughout the years, you're doing it right.

So try not to overthink things too much.

If you have a bad feeling about him or her, listen to your gut. You're finally at the age where you can trust yourself.