9 PIECES OF RELATIONSHIP ADVICE I COULD HAVE USED IN MY TWENTIES
The most important relationship you have is the one with yourself.
- •Be prepared to deal with drama even though you’ve left your teen years behind.First relationships are incredibly intense, and the effect of them never entirely leaves you. But as you get older, the burn when things go wrong scalds you in different ways. Once you’re in your 20s, it’s no longer crazy to see yourself being with a partner forever, and the disappointment, and even shame, you can feel when it becomes clear that won’t happen is acute. Even the one night stand that never called you or the guy you liked that ghosted you can send you in to an existential crisis.
- •But hold on to the fact that people rarely mean to hurt you.Relationships, and the ends of them, can be painful. We’re all human. People are selfish; we lie, we cheat, and we suit ourselves in matters of the heart. Sometimes we take the easy way out because it’s, well, easier. But I learned that the truth is, when you’re following your heart, it’s almost impossible not to hurt or disappoint someone else, even when it’s on accident.
- •You can have a disgusting crush at any age.There are some attractions we can’t control. Some people are totally attracted to bad boys or psycho hose beasts, and that’s something they have to overcome (god bless). My pheromones were going haywire for an absolute gem of a guy, but I still had to get over the crush before I could have a relationship with him. Because crushes aren’t real, and you can’t be with someone who’s on a pedestal in your mind.
- •You’ve got to play the game, at least a little bit.In other words, play it cool at first. Be chill. No matter how excited you are, giving a brand new relationship your absolute all right away; don’t put off all of the other cool and important factors in your life for a shot at love. You’ll know when the time is right to go all in (or not). It’s tempting to go hell for leather when you meet someone absolutely amazing, but holding a little bit of yourself back for reasons of self-protection is essential.
- •Breakups with friends are just as hard as romantic ones.It’s okay to break up with friends, and it’s okay to make lots of new ones. It’s nobody’s fault and it doesn’t make you a bad, callous person. While it’s important to have BFFs that always have your back, you don’t need #SquadGoals. You are not Taylor Swift, and you don’t have to be.
- •You deserve a relationship with real chemistry.Chemistry, yearning, sex appeal, whatever you want to call it, is what keeps the fires lit through rough patches and can aid intimacy like nothing else. Sure, relationships built entirely on chemistry won’t last long. But if the chemistry is gone with someone you love and can’t be revived, it’s a rare relationship that gets through it.
- •You NEVER have to stay in a dead relationship.One of the biggest mistakes people make in their twenties is staying in a long-term relationship because it’s fine. It’s not terrible, your other half isn’t an awful person and life is okay. But in doing that, and eventually maybe even marrying this person and having kids, you could be doing yourself a terrible disservice. Sure, things could definitely be worse. But could they be much, much better? You owe it to yourself to explore that side of you that you’ve been denying.
- •There is no set age to “settle down”.Don’t ever get married because all your friends are, or stay with somebody because it’s less frightening than being single on the cusp of the big 3-0 (or 4-0, or 5-0). Doing those things could lead to a lot of unhappiness and regret. You control your own destiny, and your timeline. Your love life doesn’t have to follow the same pattern as everyone else’s, and you will make your own path work for you, trust yourself on that.
- •The most important relationship you have is the one with yourselfOkay, I might have learned that one from Carrie Bradshaw, but it’s so true. You can’t love someone properly until you feel like you deserve to be loved, and you certainly can’t do things you don’t want to do in order to keep other people happy. You MUST prioritise yourself and your own feelings, because who else is going to? Having high self-esteem and being a selfish narcissist are two entirely different things, so don’t feel like putting yourself first is a bad thing.