25 Reasons Not To Settle Down Before Turning 25

by Stephanie Hayman

Unfortunately (or fortunately), I am six months away from turning 25 — or, reaching my quarter-life crisis.

I have been told that it all goes downhill after 25; your metabolism slows down, you get tired at a progressively faster rate and the sun is truly setting on those carefree, fun days.

Hitting 24 was a bit of a conundrum. My mother married my father when she was 24 and had moved out of my grandparent’s house.

At the same age, I found myself wading through the casual dating waters, nowhere close to finding the man who would ideally put a ring on my finger.

I'm college educated, working my way up the corporate ladder and also have a BS degree in bar stool lingo.

As I creep closer to the tabooed age of 25, I realize the lessons I've learned in the dating world can now be looked upon and appreciated.

First and foremost, your 20s are a crucial time period that allow you to explore who you really are and what you want. By experiencing ups and downs, victories and defeats within the relationship schematic, you give yourself the ability to learn more about what you want in a lifelong partner.

You also give yourself the opportunity for introspective and adventurous experiences of singledom, which allow you to learn more about yourself.

Here are 25 reasons why you shouldn't settle on just any guy before turning 25:

25. Focus on your education

Don't get so hung up on a guy that you neglect your studies. There is nothing you will regret more than not putting your best foot forward in school because you sacrificed your time for a guy (who you were probably totally in love with at that point in time).

I had one sucky semester my sophomore year of college because I was too busy devoting my time to a guy with whom I was enamored. Clearly, he is no longer in my life, but the distraction still cost me an "A" in accounting.

24. The first guy who says, "I love you" usually doesn't

Let's get real; I'm not saying that there aren't genuine guys out there who actually mean what they say, but the ones who say the "right" things ruin it for everyone else.

In college, "I love you" is a really nice way of saying, "I want to get in your pants, so I'm saying exactly what you want to hear." Learn how to tell the difference.

23. Lay the foundation for your career

Work part-time jobs, intern and build connections that will lead to bolstering your résumé. Make sure that you have developed into a whirlwind of strength that can devour a conference room, strike a deal or teach a class better than anybody else.

22. Achieve a level of independence

As Ne-Yo so eloquently stated, "There's somethin' oh so sexy about kinda woman that don't even need my help, she said she got it, she got it, no doubt."

Confidence and independence is directly proportional to sexiness. These are assets that will attract quality guys — the kind that won't be intimidated or threatened by you, that is.

21. Learn to stop playing games

Games are meant to be played on the playground and are not valuable assets for emotional and physical growth with another person. Don't get hung up on the "he ignored me for two days, I'll ignore him for three and show him who's better at this" type scenarios.

It's both unhealthy and immature. Someone who's worthy of your time and attention will not do this (and neither should you).

20. Experiment

A close friend once told me, "You need to go out there and date someone completely wrong for you in order to realize who the right ones are." Though I didn't necessarily agree with that philosophy, it's exactly what I wound up doing.

In fact, we couldn't have been less compatible if I had tried. Though it wasn't the best ever situation, it was probably one of the most important life lessons that I've learned so far.

It showed me that my pickiness and discriminating nature was necessary [for me] in terms of dating. Experiment with people and situations and figure out what's important to you.

19. Your frontal cortex isn't fully developed

Your frontal cortex, which is the part of the brain that is directly related to judgment calls and decision-making, does not reach full development until about age 25.

Think about it: a decision that you make at 23 could be radically different two years down the line, once your brain reaches that full capacity of maturity.

18. Kiss a lot of frogs

Again, find out what intrigues you — not only emotionally, but physically, as well. Learn about yourself and what piques your interests behind closed doors.

17. Learn that you can't change people

Get over the notion that you can change a guy. Maybe you can change his style or his choice of restaurants, but deep down, you cannot change who people inherently at their cores.

It is also unfair for you to want to tear down a person to suit your own needs. If people are set in their ways, they most likely will not change due simply to your request.

16. Learn to be you, wholly and unapologetically

I make terrible, corny jokes. I love to sing, but my voice could crack glass. I always eat quesadillas with a fork and knife. I cry while watching Hallmark Christmas movies. It may take a while, but learn to love every ounce of yourself, including all of your quirks and flaws.

You can only find your true counterpart or soulmate once you accept who you are and trust that someone will appreciate your personality and soul.

15. Do things with your girls

The worst thing you could do is look back on your teens or early 20s and not have great memories with your best friends. Don't budget all of your time for a guy without equally balancing out that with time with your besties.

These people are the ones who will always support you, laugh with you until you cry and dry your tears during hard times. They are the ones with whom you need to make beautiful memories.

14. Work on yourself

Get to a point in life where you are satisfied with what you've accomplished. Become a marathon runner, read all of "the classics" and learn a second language. Do something of which you can be proud and devote your time to at a pivotal point in your life.

13. Realize that "once a cheater" means "always a cheater"

Don't think that even though your "dream man" cheated on his girlfriend with you, he will leave her for you. As amazing as you may be, and as wonderfully as he may treat you, he can never be fully trusted.

Big shout out to the first guy I dated during college for teaching me this important lesson: There are plenty of other fish in the sea.

12. Find someone who is your best friend

I've dated plenty of guys to whom I was both attracted and with whom I got along. This didn't necessarily mean that I considered them people to whom I could tell absolutely everything and confide in completely, though.

Look for someone with whom you can share all of life's daily, silly moments and tear down the dance floor at the local bar. Look for someone with whom you can speak intellectually but also be completely stupid.

11. Listen to your gut

You can take advice from family, friends and other respected individuals, but nobody knows you better than you know yourself. Listen to the gut feeling you get — it may tell you that he's "the one" or it may tell you to run like hell.

Either way, always trust yourself because you're usually right.

10. Wait for guys to grow up

Biologically speaking, males are about five to seven years behind [maturity-wise] to females.

I'm not saying that you need to date someone older than you to balance that out, but finding someone who's mature (in terms of personality, financials, career, etc.) is worth waiting for.

9. Demand respect

Don't settle for a guy who treats you with mediocrity. You need to command respect because you deserve it.

If this precedent is not set up front, you will wind up being a doormat. Be strong and learn that respect is crucial to any healthy relationship.

8. Figure out your future

Do you want to buy a house in the suburbs prior to getting engaged? Have four kids? Decide exactly what you want before you fully commit to someone.

You can always change your mind, but it's important to find someone who shares your aspirations.

7. Financial independence

Invest in stocks and money markets. Place your money in savings accounts and CDs. See if your company has a 401(k), and invest funds there, too.

Obtain your own financial security before settling down with someone. In addition, it doesn't hurt to figure out if your significant other is savvy when it comes to saving vs. spending.

6. Learn to cook

One of my grandmothers always asks me, "When you get married, will you know how to cook for your husband?"

I always respond with, "I will be able to, and he should be able to do the same for me." Become comfortable in the kitchen so that you will be able to contribute to this facet of life. Plus, good food is usually the way to a man's heart.

5. Value time with your family

Family is forever, but some members won't be around forever. In your more impressionable years, it's key to spend time with the ones you love.

They will help guide you throughout all walks of life and provide you with a level of comfort that is hard to come by in any other way, shape or form.

4. Believe in "what's meant to be, will be"

This is probably the hardest philosophy to truly grasp. Know that everything happens for a reason and everything you experience in life up until this point is what made you, you.

Every little experience, no matter how insignificant, has shaped you into the person  you are meant to become, and the person with whom someone else will fall in love.

3. Call your own shots

This is a privilege, so make sure you are able to do it. Once you're in a serious relationship, engaged and married, you must make dual decisions for the rest your life.

Your single days are meant for you to do whatever you want. Have fun doing that while you can.

2. Wait for "that feeling"

I believe in the feeling you get when you know that something or someone is different; that he or she is meant to be a part of your life and will remain there.

It's at that point that you can detect an inherent connection with another human being. When the hair on your arms stands up, you get a shiver down your spine and the butterflies in your stomach, you know that something even greater than your mind has detected someone special.

1. Reach a level of self-actualization

According to Maslow's hierarchy of needs, this is the pinnacle that a human being must reach in life. It's a point where you are wholly and completely aware of yourself and all that you are.

It is at this point that you have entered unconditional love with yourself and can then shed and share that love with a man who is worthy of you.