5 Reasons to Stay Single in Your Early 20’s

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.

Five reasons to stay single in your 20s

  1. 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?

  1. 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.)

Should I go out with him? Five reasons not to

  1. 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.

  1. 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…

  1. 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

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Should I date him? 5 reasons not to... just yet! 
I don't regret my relationship... but I do think I'd have been better off if I'd stayed single 
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11 Comments

  1. August 8, 2017 / 11:12 am

    I bloody love your posts! My ex dumping me at the start of my twenties was the best thing that could’ve happened to me, for all of those reasons – especially the fact that I get to live for me, which my taken friends have been quite jealous of at times…

    • August 8, 2017 / 11:25 am

      Thank you lovely! That means so much ❤ I’m so glad it worked out for you! Thats so true, I went through a lot of moments of jealousy of my single friends when I was younger. They could just do whatever and go wherever they wanted 👌

  2. Emily
    August 9, 2017 / 8:08 pm

    I wonder how much is tied up with “the grass is greener” type thoughts? I know I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my single years and also had occasional moments of thinking a boyfriend would be nice. Mostly I think I was happy being single and doing all the stuff you do when you’re young… travel a bit, figure out a career, work, study, figure out who I am and what I want from life while living life, plus a lot of fun thrown in there too. I can see how if you’re in a long term relationship you might also have thoughts of jealousy or wishing you had the other single life things happening. But is one really better than the other? I think it’s a totally personal decision and dependent on finding the right person at the right time and place when you’re both ready. Then it can also be tied up with your relationship experiences and expectations. In addition, if you’re anything like I am, if you have any attachment issues from early life then strap yourself in to figure that shit out also. I guess like most things in life, it’s all shades of grey rather than black and white.
    I’d also like to go on a feminist rant but let’s leave it here. 🙂

    • August 9, 2017 / 7:34 pm

      It’s absolutely a grass is greener scenario. I’m so happy with how my life has turned out but there’s still a part of me that dwells on how much sooner I could have had it all you know? But I know everything happens for a reason. I really struggled not to keep going on a feminist rant, just hope I got my point across that a relationship isn’t everything 😉

  3. Rosa
    August 18, 2017 / 11:46 am

    I love this post. I’m single and I haven’t really had a proper relationship yet and I’m 23… but I’m perfectly happy being so.

    http://ohduckydarling.com

    • August 18, 2017 / 12:00 pm

      Good!! That’s great, the most important thing I suppose is to be happy with your choices. There’s so much more time in your life to find someone, if that’s something you decide to do! X

  4. August 18, 2017 / 12:49 pm

    This is so true! I avoided relationships during that period and focused on other things that I considered more important. Other people, both my age an dolder, didn’t understand that decision at all. But I am glad I did it, and spent my time doing what I wanted to do rather than stressing over a boyfriend etc.

    • August 18, 2017 / 1:55 pm

      Great! People always want to sticky beak on our choices, but I’m glad you stayed strong to your guns ❤

  5. August 18, 2017 / 12:54 pm

    Thank you! Yes, figuring out who you really are and what do you really want might take some time. I managed to understand it in my very late 20s!

    • August 18, 2017 / 1:56 pm

      Just realising it now myself! Now to try and be patient with getting what I really want…

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