As you know by now, because I mention it all the time, I have been single for over 5 years. But in my sordid past, I was one of those girls who had lots of lots of boyfriends (not at the same time but you could rely on me to have a constant stream of boyfriends one after the other between the age of 12 and 17). Then I had my super duper serious lovey dovey relationship and then that ended when I was 19 and now I’m 24. So there’s your context to how I ended up like this –
Even though I haven’t had a serious relationship since then I have done a lot of dating and boy oh boy is dating in your twenties different from navigating love in the playground. Here are just some things that I’ve noticed:
Will you be my girlfriend? aka Labels WTF?!
In school it was simple. You had crushes, if it was reciprocated then one person would ask the other person out. The askee would then reply ‘yes’ or ‘no’ and if the answer was a yes you were officially “going out” until maybe a few months later when someone sends a “you’re dumped” text. Teenagers are brutal.
But when you’re in your twenties things are bit more complicated. There are so many different kinds of romantic/sexual relationships you can have with people and not everyone is always on the same page. Dating, seeing each other, casual, friends with benefits, one-night stand, in a relationship, exclusive, open etc. And different people place different meanings on the same description – language is cool, right? I told a friend I was dating someone, which to me meant that we’d been on a few dates and I liked them and wanted to see where things would go but I was still open to other people. But to my friend ‘dating someone’ meant they were my boyfriend and so he thought I couldn’t be dating someone and also still looking elsewhere. Throw into the mix if your partner has a different idea of what you are then things might get a bit messy. Not really sure what my point here is except that it’s a confusing, beautiful mess in your twenties and communication is good!
Making out for hours
Do you remember in relationships when you were 14 that you could be perfectly satisfied from just kissing and making out forever. No pressure to go any further, no burning desire in your crotch to get physical, just complete bliss. And it may have been months between kissing and a boob feel and then another month between a boob feel and a hand job. Slow and steady.
But then… once you have sex and as you get older you just want to have sex all the time (is this just me?). People talk about hormones during puberty making teenagers super horny but what about us twenty-somethings who are horny and frustrated? I would also like a scientific explanation for it so I can feel more normal please. Relationships move much faster now. Making out for hours just isn’t enough – before you know it someone is naked. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that but sometimes I do think that everyone feels rushed, like sex is something to get over and done with. But actually waiting and taking your time can be just as exciting, sensual and satisfying. So I’d like to take this moment to come out in support of adults-making-out-for-hours. It’s a wonderful cause and I hope that you get behind it too.
Meeting the parents
Basically every teenage relationship you have, the meeting of the parents happens very early on and isn’t a big deal (this does not apply to people who have parents with very strict rules when it comes to dating due to things like culture or religion). But when you’re a teenager you live with your parents so there is really no avoiding everyone meeting. Even parents meeting parents is fairly likely. When I was 15, my parents met the parents of my boyfriend and my mum had a crush on his dad and my dad had a crush on his mum so I don’t think it could get weirder than that!
For most people in their twenties, you’re no longer living at home which means you can literally tell your parents nothing about your relationships. I tell my parents things about my love life somewhere between nothing and enough to satisfy their curiosity. But if you do introduce someone to your parents then it is A BIG DEAL. Okay, I’m saying this as someone who has not gone through this rite of passage yet so maybe it’s not as big a deal as I’m making it out to be in my head. But the idea of bringing a hypothetical boyfriend up to Manchester to meet my parents and stay in my family house for a couple days scares the living daylight out of me.
I think we should just be friends aka BREAKING UP
Again, everything was simpler when you were a teenager but at the time it really did not feel simple. It felt like your whole world was about to implode. And heartbreak was and still is one of the worst feelings in the world. That combo of emotional and physical pain really gets ya. When I was a teenager, breaking up with someone or being dumped was horrible but it was over fairly quickly. Someone would just say, ‘I don’t want to go out anymore, I think we should just be friends’ and the other person will just say ‘okay’ and then everyone will go on their merry way. Maybe some tears.
In your twenties, not only are break ups more intense and complicated but if you’ve only been casually seeing someone then it’s hard to even tell if you have to break up with them in the first place. A very popular break up style at the moment is ghosting – you don’t say anything, just start ignoring calls and texts and eventually they’ll get the message. And even though this is annoying it has kind of become socially acceptable in more casual relationships. Sometimes it’s just as simple as not fancying someone which shouldn’t be taken personally. And then there’s the real full on break ups of serious relationships but we’re not going there because I have been single for 5 years. Have I mentioned that yet?
Even though it may have been simpler in my teens, I love a good bit of drama, anxiety and adventures in my dating life so I’m very happy to be single and dating in my twenties. This was very much based off my experiences now and when I was younger so I’d love to hear some of your stories in the comments!