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Dating in Your 20s: Why You Can't Plan Love

Jul 20, 2011 at 12:29 PM Chime in now

Dating in Your 20



They say good things come to those who wait, but today’s 20-somethings seem to be running in a relationship race.

Dating in your 20s (especially in your early 20s) is supposed to be about having fun, taking risks and meeting new people. But for many late 20-somethings, dating seems to be a series of calculated choices: all about finding the right guy or girl, right now.

In an article entitled Deadline Obsessed! in the April 2011 issue of FLARE, Shawna Cohen writes: “The difficult part for most people is trying to figure out the difference between being ambitious (having goals and persevering until you reach them) and being bullheaded (religiously sticking to an idealized, and often unrealistic, life plan, regardless of whether it’s the right path for you).”

An urban city (in theory) is practically paved with attractive and ambitious romantic candidates. Couple that with the myriad of dating conduits: social media websites, speed dating, online dating, and cell phone applications for all of these, there seems to be endless options for people looking for Mr. or Miss. Right—or even Mr. or Miss Right Now. But amidst the pings, pokes and texts, familiar benchmarks keep coming up in conversation. The kind that many 20-somethings won’t, and as a rule on dates, don’t talk about: marriage, kids, and growing old together.

Yuck, right? Wrong.

Facebook photo galleries filled with snaps from engagement parties, wedding receptions and new baby photos (gasp!) are dictating otherwise and making even the most headstrong 20-something singletons think about the future.

Case in point: after attending six—that’s right, six—weddings this year alone, 25 year-old Jennifer’s closet is filled with bridesmaids dresses from the weddings of fellow 20-somethings. When all of the engagements were announced last year, she was still single and nervous about meeting the right guy – she had a successful corporate position, a job that rewarded her with frequent raises and promotions but still, she was unhappy about her relationships.

“I did have a deadline when I was younger—not a definite year, but a general timeframe. Overall I’m trying not to rush it,” she says. But this year was a whirlwind of change for her friends, and for Jennifer. Over that year of nuptials, she met her boyfriend Richard, a 29 year-old lawyer. They’ve since moved in together and she says that without even realizing it, she’s starting to plan a little more now, “Everything changes depending on the relationship situation you’re in. When I was single and just dating, I didn’t think about it as much as I do now that I’m in a serious relationship.”

But really? Is not thinking about being in a relationship the catalyst for finding and nurturing a good one? Cohen says yes.

“The truth is, if you’re too busy planning, you’re likely limiting yourself: missing the chance to celebrate your successes as you rush on to the next goal,” says Cohen. “The most important thing is to actually enjoy the journey.”

Karen, a 27-year-old media professional, took this idea to heart. She travelled to Australia and South East Asia. On the way, she met someone.  

“Before the age of 25, I felt like (relationships) didn’t matter, I could go travelling, I could take a fun job, I could date, as long as I was enjoying life,” she says. But now, she feels like she’s being reeled in by reality. “Now that I’ve done that and I’m back home in Canada, I feel like I need to settle down. I think there’s a stigma against people who don’t go by the book.”

Karen says that many of her friends with stable jobs and stable relationships are on the road to marriage before 30, but ironically, they envy her travelling and wish they could have done the same instead. Karen met her boyfriend Brian, a 20-something entrepreneur, while travelling and says the experience was the ultimate test and helped her determine they were compatible.

“Most people would go for a coffee, I instead [our dates] took us to Chicago and South East Asia,” she says, “Relationships take time to grow and it takes time to find the right person. Definitely don’t settle, but also don’t let fear get in the way of meeting someone who will help you actually discover yourself.”

Read More:
Dating In Your 40s: 10 Things To Know
The Truth About Sex
Breaking Up In The Age Of Social Media
Cross-Cultural Dating: How Race and Religion Can Factor In


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