From the time you're out of the small pond that is high school and thrust into the icy uncharted waters of college, finding someone to call your own is lingering in the back of most peoples minds. Once you're out of college, however, it's all too easy to spin into an anxiety-ridden panic, wondering when you will find love. As someone who was perpetually paranoid that I was destined to end up alone and unhappy after not making any meaningful connections in college, the best advice I could have given myself in retrospect would have been to simmer down and truly take advantage of being young, single, and surrounded by an entire city full of eligible men. Obviously, this is much easier said than done.
The truth of the matter is, there is no reason to start stressing about finding a lifelong partner in your early twenties. Why? Because if you're a person moving through the world, it's almost impossible to not find someone. I'm not a person who subscribes to the whole soulmate mentality. I believe there are hundreds, if not thousands, of people floating around the world who could be a compatible partner for any one person. So as long as you're putting yourself in situations to meet the type of people you're into, then it's only a matter of time before you connect with someone who's truly worthwhile.
Although everyone is different, is there really a perfect time to meet this special person? Elite Daily spoke with online dating coach and relationship expert Damona Hoffman to find out more about if there really is an ideal point in your life to meet this person, and if so, what are some of the most productive ways to make sure it happens.
According to Hoffman, there is no arbitrary magic age or perfect time to meet your person, but she does recommend that you keep in mind long-term goals when planning for the future. "With my clients, I get very specific with life goals (i.e., career, kids, etc.) and we work backward from those deadlines. If you want to have kids, biologically speaking, you're ideally going to want to be married by 33 so you can have a few blissful married years before kids," says Hoffman.
When you approach things from this perspective, it really takes the pressure off and allows you to focus on having fun and enjoying your youth rather than stressing about a deadline that you have plenty of time to meet. And let's face it: If you're a single woman trying your romantic luck in a big city like New York, finding a mature guy in your early twenties can feel straight up impossible anyway.
Hoffman backs me up on this one:
I find that the age range for men to settle down is usually a couple of years older than women, yet proportional to the men in [the same] area. In major metropolitan cities like LA, NY, and SF, both men and women tend to settle down a little later than in other parts of the country, but it's usually in a similar range to their female counterparts in that location.
So essentially, if you've been seriously dating someone who seems like they aren't quite ready for or interested in settling down, this could change with time and is nothing to work yourself into a panic over — even if you're in your mid-twenties.
But let's just say for argument's sake that you are single and still doubting when — if ever — the one will finally make their grand entrance. Well, Hoffman also isn't a fan of the idea of looking for one soulmate to ride out the imminent apocalypse with. Much like me, Hoffman believes "soulmates don't exist," and by adopting the mindset that there is one perfect person out there, many people miss out on a ton of other amazing people that could be a good fit:
There are many possible compatible partners out there. I find that it's far less daunting to consider that you're not looking for a needle in a haystack. It's more like you're looking for a cute outfit on the clothing rack. You have to try on a few options, but if you want to take something home, you will find a good fit if you just spend a little time figuring out what works.
I'm always baffled by how I seem to know so many amazing eligible people, but everyone's complaining that there are no good people to date. Yet, from personal experience, I know finding someone to date can feel like a never-ending wait that's bound to end in failure. But waiting is all you can do, right?
Well, before you order another piña colada and get comfortable, Hoffman attributes many of the struggles to finding a partner to approaching the situation passively rather than going after what you want. "One of my taglines on my website is Date Like It's Your Job. You can date by chance and hope you connect with your dream partner, or you can date strategically and find someone who is an ideal match for you. I would rather do a little work to get a better result," says Hoffman.
This totally makes sense and explains why there are so many single yet otherwise accomplished women out there — we've all been trained to believe that the man of our dreams will scoop us up when we least expect it, so in the meantime, we just need to patiently wait while dodging slimy swamp frog lips.
Hoffman recommends that anyone struggling to find love should try approaching things from the same way they would their career: "I teach women how to use the skills that have made them professionally successful (analytics, strategy, networking, training, mentorship, determination) to be just as successful in love."
For those of us single ladies approaching our mid-twenties whose social media feeds are flooded with engagement announcements and wedding photos and even pregnancy declarations, it can feel like time is running out. This, however, couldn't be further from the truth. If anything, it's important to take your time to explore your options instead of rushing to settle down with the first guy that shows interest. It's not only fun, but it also ensures that when you do start to connect with people you could imagine sharing a life with, you'll be the wisest, most well-rounded version of yourself.