I would just like to preface this by saying I don’t regret my relationship. We had our problems, clearly, but we did love each other and we made some brilliant memories. You can’t help that when you get together at 18 and stay together for 7 years.
And I am fully aware that plenty of people get together at an even younger age than we did and manage to make it work. That’s what matters you know – that both of you are still willing to make it work at the end of the day.
While I’m real happy for those people, I feel like there’s always a huge focus or emphasis on people who identify as female to base their entire worth on whether or not they’re in a relationship. Because it’s everywhere – there’s not a television show out there where someone doesn’t wish for a partner in a desperate pining sort of way. Over and over again we miraculously see their problems disappear, resolve themselves or become minor in the face of “true love”.
So as someone who did grow up in a relationship, and then had to learn how to be on their own in their mid-to-late twenties, I’d like to make the argument for staying single in your teens / early 20s. At the time, it seemed so important to my single friends to find someone but completely objectively, I feel like they mightn’t be the strong people they are today if they had.
My point is, don’t waste your entry into adulthood on chasing stupid boys. There’s plenty of time for that bull shit.
You get to focus on YOU, do what YOU want to do
What I regret is what I now see as the delay in starting my life. When you’re young and you get into a serious long-term relationship, especially when it’s with someone a bit older than you and a lot more confident, personable and popular, you get drowned in them. If I achieved anything in my early 20s, it was in spite of my partner, not because of – he wasn’t ambitious or driven, he was happy with his life just the way it was. So when you’re in a relationship, whatever it is that you want to do, immediately becomes a compromise – and if you’re anything like I was, that is loosely defined as sacrifice. Your life becomes about what WE want to do, what does OUR future hold, when are WE going to follow OUR dreams.
You have your entire life to make compromises; and trust me, you will do it, over and over again. So why not take a few years to be completely selfish?
You get to make mistakes
The truly beautiful thing about being young is that you get to fuck up and still have plenty of time to move on with your life. You’re meant to do dumb shit right now. Quit your job and go on a six month road trip, see the world. Get drunk every night and have sex with beautiful strangers. Change jobs 4 times a year because you’re not really sure what you want to do with your life yet. Do all the things I never did and then email me to tell me about it so I can live vicariously through you.
(Yes, I am completely aware I can still do that too, but like, I get tired after two drinks and I’m grumpy if I don’t go to bed before midnight at the latest. Plus everything hurts on my body, all the time and making small talk with strangers is exhausting. And good lord do I hate having to shave my legs and put makeup on to impress some strange boy.)
You get time to figure out who you are
I used to hear a lot from friends about how lucky I was to have someone and how much happier they’d be if they were in my position. Even then, I thought that was a bizarre way of thinking, and I still believe that to this day. There’s a saying that floats around along the lines of “how can you be happy with someone else, if you aren’t even happy by yourself.” That kind of gets at what I’m trying to say, but is also incredibly dismissive of people with mental health issues. People with depression, anxiety, eating disorders, whatever, deserve to be in a relationship just as much as the next person. What we’re really trying to say here, is that being in a relationship where you’re on the same page, where you want the same things and have the same ambitions in life is key. If you know exactly what that means for you at 20, then you’ve got life better figured out than I do at 28. But those things change and evolve as you get older, and I firmly believe the more time you have to yourself to figure out what those things may be, the better off you’ll be when you do eventually find someone.
Basically, my boyfriend and I want exactly the same things in life, but if we’d met 8 years ago, we 100% wouldn’t have.
Relationships are really hard work
Young and carefree doesn’t really apply when all of your energy is put into making yourself fit into someone else’s life. You’ve added another family to your own, essentially, and their problems become your problems. The amount of pressure this can put on someone is high, and I’m not saying there aren’t rewards for doing this. But you’re also in danger of their problems becoming everything you know. As I’ve said already, there will be plenty of time for all that shit…
You get to use this time to form closer bonds with your friends
Statistically, romantic relationships are largely temporary. One in three marriages end in divorce, though to be fair, this number is lower than it was 12 years ago. And sure, friends come and go – I’ve certainly lost more friends in the last 10 years than I’ve gained. The thing about getting into a relationship when you’re young, is that you’re too stupid to not make it your entire world. Friendships suffer – people who you thought were with you no matter what, have rightfully moved on. You settle to fast and lose friends that aren’t settling yet. Then when you realise maybe settling isn’t for you, you lose them again because they’ve already done the wild thing.
Think about which is more important you right now.
So there’s a lot of doom and gloom here, and as I said, I am fully aware plenty of people get in relationships when they’re young and totally nail it. And if you’re already in a relationship, there are hundreds of upsides to that too, so don’t think I’m trying to talk you out of it.
What I’m saying is, this obsession for finding happiness in someone else is toxic and completely unfounded. You do you, you be happy with you, you do what YOU want to do. Don’t lose that in the expectations of others.
What do you think? Yay or nay on being single while you’re young?
Tell me all about it in the comments below.[Related] What it means to fall in love while being adamant you don’t want to [Related] There’s no such thing as accidents