What I’ve Learned About Romantic Relationships in My Early Twenties

I truly believe that in your early twenties, a relationship’s sole purpose is to help each other grow.
Publish date:
December 26, 2016
20s, Dating

There’s a bit of a misconception on what relationships should be like when we’re young. We tend to get so caught up in love with each other and so impatient with wanting to start our lives with our significant other that we start treating our relationship like a marriage. We hold expectations, rushing and forcing the pace. We become possessive over one another, we become selfish, and we sometimes lose ourselves along the way. We tend to forget the main purpose of our early twenties: to find yourself.

I’ve been there and I’ve done that. I fell in love with what I thought was the love of my life when I was 18, and by age 21 we broke up. Within those three years we accomplished a lot. We made a lot of mistakes, too — or lessons learned, the way I like to look at it. We rented our first apartment together, and then a few others. We had a joint bank account, cosigned a car, and shared a phone plan. We were so madly in love, so eager to do everything together, and so impatient to start our lives together, not realizing there was no rush. We still had the rest of our lives to focus on our relationship, and we needed to focus on our selves first.

After a while, I lost myself, and he lost himself, too. I wasn’t myself anymore; I was Dylan’s girlfriend. He wasn’t Dylan anymore; he was Chelsey’s boyfriend. The things that set my heart on fire, all my passions and interests slowly faded the deeper my love grew for him and vice-versa. Without realizing it, I was no longer the same person anymore and neither was he. Eventually we grew resentful towards each other. I became selfish and possessive. He became resentful and unhappy.

Your twenties are your selfish years. They are not meant for you to invest so much time and energy on a relationship. Does that mean you shouldn’t have one? No, not at all. Your twenties, though, are meant for you to find your passions, to learn, to travel, to see everything, to experience everything, to manifest your dreams, and to mold yourself into someone you're content with, so that when you’re 70 years old rocking on a porch swing next to the love of your life, you don’t have any regrets. You want to know you did everything you possibly could and wanted to do in your life.

How do you do all of this while having a relationship? Easy.

I truly believe that in your early twenties, a relationship’s sole purpose is to help each other grow. Motivate each other. Inspire each other. Support each other in everything the other wants in life. If you are in a relationship, it should be because you love that person’s soul. You love their interests, passions, hobbies, company and vibe so much that you want to be there to support and motivate them to keep working on themselves until they have reached their full potential, and vice versa. When two people are each so happy and content with their own self, that is when they can be truly happy together.

You shouldn’t have expectations. That’s a mistake I’ve made in the past and a mistake anyone can be guilty of. If you and that person are meant to be together, you will be together. You don’t need to worry about where the relationship is going, whom the other person is talking to, or what they’re doing when you’re not around. Real love does not hold jealousy, it does not hold envy, and it is not self-seeking. What you need to worry about is accomplishing every experience you can, whether it is something as small as having a beer with a coworker or as big as taking a year trip to India. Keep on doing these things till you’ve put the tin lid on who you truly are, and just sit back and patiently cheer on everything your significant other’s journey entails as well. After it all, if you two are still in love, well then that’s just beautiful. That’s just real.

The next time I’m in a relationship, it will be with someone whose soul I love, and I will support them in anything they aspire to do. They want to take a trip? I hope they have fun. They want to go to the bar? Good! They want to go snow boarding, skydiving, surfing? Well I will be right there beside them, because that sounds dope. They want to be out all night till 6 a.m. having fun and making memories without me? That’s OK because I’ll be doing the same — can’t wait for us to share our crazy stories with each other after though. They want to go to school half way across the world? Hell yeah! That sounds like so much fun. I’m jealous! I’ll miss you though. If we have common interests in things we aspire to experience and accomplish then hell yeah we’re going to do them together. Whatever we want to do together we will do together, whatever we want to do separately we will do separately, and support each other the entire time. They are going to "do them" and I’m going to admire it and support it while I’m finding myself and getting everything I want from life too.

When I’m 70 years old, rocking in my rocking chair I’m going look at them, still so deep in love, and tell them thank you. Thank you for letting me and helping me get everything from life that I wanted, and they are going to say the same back to me.