The Best Dating Advice For Your Early 20s, According To 16 Women

Your early 20s are a time for many things: Bad takeout, poor quality bath towels that you should probably wash more, and nights spent with friends — sharing clothes and going out, only to leave the party early and watch Queer Eye. Of course, your early 20s are also a time for some major romance ups and downs. And if you've fallen in love for the first time or just had your heart completely shattered, this best dating advice for your early 20s is like a hug from your mom and an ice cream cone all in one.

Whether you found love early, have no interest in dating, or you're still looking for the right one — dating in your early 20s is a time to learn about yourself and to explore what makes you feel happy and supported in relationships. And while you're forging your own path, when it comes down to it, you are never alone. Hearing from women who have #beenthere and #donethat can be a great way to gain new perspectives and feel totally validated.

I spoke with 16 women about the best dating advice for your early 20s, and what they said is literally everything.

1. One And Only

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"I honestly never really 'dated'. My current partner was my first date and first partner. I guess if you know you like someone it's OK to just be with them you don't need to feel pressure to date other people."

— Kim, 25

2. Find Yourself

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"Your early 20s are really about finding yourself. So find someone who respects you for who you are and supports you growing as an individual."

— Penny, 23

3. Have Fun!

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"Dating is overrated and doesn’t need to be a huge thing. Just have fun!"

— Georgia, 21

4. Prioritize Yourself

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"You are the priority! Prioritize yourself over anyone."

— Molly, 26

5. This Too Shall Pass

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"Every drama feels like the end of the world in your early 20s, but I promise it’s not. You will get over it, you will heal."

— Kyle, 26

6. Don't Stress

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"Don’t stress out about finding the perfect person when you’re young. Just have some fun, date around and meet different types of people. You’ll learn a lot about yourself with every relationship you go through."

— Mandy, 25

7. Wait It Out

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"Everyone is a flipping mess in their early 20s, it’s fine to wait it out."

— Mara, 27

8. Chef's Kiss

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"We’re both really bad at cooking but we try to cook for each other. That's dating in your 20s."

— Lisa, 23

9. Take Care Of You

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"Personally, I’d think grad school and career first to build a strong foundation, so you can be self-sufficient financially."

— Dineen, 38

10. Ask Questions

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"Communicate so you are on the same page ask questions like 'So, are we exclusive?' or 'What are your long-term expectations?'"

— Beth, 32

11. You Are Complete

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"You are full and complete by yourself. Repeating something like, 'If love crosses my path that’s a bonus but I’m not looking for it' can be super helpful."

— Kara, 28

12. See Your Worth

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"I think its important to value yourself and see your worth. Like, you don’t have to jump into a relationship just to be in one. And prioritize yourself over anyone else."

— Mart, 24

13. Don't Rush

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"Don't rush things if you're feeling left out of the dating scene. Don't date because you think you have to or sleep with people because you think everyone else is doing it."

— Cora, 26

14. Take It Easy

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“I’ve thought about dating and read books and written stuff and it felt too serious. So lately I’ve just been seeing where things go without trying too hard or taking it too seriously. For example, I just changed my bio on all my dating apps to 'former baby.'"

— Lucha, 25

15. You Can't Read Minds

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"When I was in college I started dating my best friend from high school, because we already knew each other so intimately. There were a lot of times when I assumed that we were on the same page or that I knew what he was thinking. I realize that this really hindered our relationship and that you can never assume to know what someone is thinking or feeling."

— Gena, 24

16. Be Direct

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"Be more direct with your partners about where you're at and ask more questions if something seems off."

— Alice, 25

Dating in your early 20s can be overwhelming and somehow completely underwhelming at the same time. If you're looking for love, happily boo'd up, or swearing off dating forever, your early 20s is a time to do what's right for you and to find what makes you happy.