Dating in Your 20s: First Relationships

Relationships. Some of us grew up waiting for the day we would get into our first relationships, talking with friends at lunch during middle school, imagining future scenarios with the boys sitting at the table nearby as they all played Yu-Gi-Oh! or some other card game. Then we all went to high school, and the first girl in the group got her first boyfriend and it was the talk of homeroom for a month. The next girl met a boy, and the next. There was a breakup, a new boy, another friend’s first. And some of us just watched it all happen. 

I watched as nearly every girl and guy I knew got into their first relationships throughout high school and had their first real dates, anniversaries, heartbreaks and everything in between. In my time at high school, I went on one real date to the movies. It was a nice time, but ultimately things didn’t go on longer than a couple of weeks. 

After a while, when countless crushes went unreciprocated, hook-up culture was all the rage even in high school and everyone just told you what a great friend you are, you give up. The mere idea of a relationship became comical, and I resigned myself to one day being the fun aunt that does whatever I want because I would have no husband or kids to tie me down. It sounded nice at 17 anyway, to be that free and alone. 

College changes a lot about your worldviews, however, and I began to value the idea of that level of companionship again. Then the age-old question would set in occasionally: why not me? What am I doing wrong? I wasn’t doing anything wrong, I was just looking too hard in the wrong places. 

Sounds cliche, I know, but when you waste your time looking at a situationship like they could be your future husband and blatantly ignore the red flags everyone around you can see, you’re most definitely looking in the wrong place. Months of heartbreak over someone who won’t even put a superficial title on things or won’t tell their friends about you is not worth it. 

Anyway, once again my faith in relationships kind of crumbled. Living my best single life, I worked on myself and healing. Finally, I started to feel stable and better again after many months and a few ups and downs. I decided I was over dating anyway and was back to looking at a fun future of loneliness! Woo hoo! 

And then, as the cliche goes, when I stopped looking I found someone. It’s only a cliche because it’s so true! 

Meeting the organic way through friends, thinking I had just made another good friend. I was pretty happy with that. I started getting invited to things personally, talking more, hanging out and one day it clicked. I realized I’d rather leave a fun hang-out with friends to continue spending time with him when he had to leave early. I don’t think I have ever felt that way about someone before. 

We kept seeing each other more and more and things were just always good. So, we made things official. The first time someone said they wanted to be official with me and actually meant it. 

It’s a surreal experience being in the relationship that 11-year-old you thought would have happened five or six years earlier. It’s bittersweet at times, because yes, it’s finally happened, but, at the same time, you still missed the silly young relationship things your friends got. They got to plan out their schedules to see when they could bump into their boyfriend or girlfriend for five minutes in the halls, sit together in class, go to school events together and have a prom date. 

Being 20 in a first relationship has its perks though. Emotional maturity, being an adult that can make real decisions, sleepovers without a convoluted plan to avoid parents finding out, having cars and way less drama. 

Also, being with someone who allows you to be excited about the little things that you finally get to experience is wonderful. I got to be excited about a one-month anniversary. Even though a lot of people my age have had one, two, three-year-long relationships, or have had many one-months pass, it was my first. Just the acknowledgment of it meant a lot to me. 

Once you’re in a relationship you start to appreciate different things that you never romanticized before. Sure,0 going out to dinner is nice and maybe you would love it if they picked you up with flowers in hand. But so is laying on a couch and knowing if you’re scrolling on TikTok and that one song comes up, you’re both going to stop whatever you’re doing to do a little fist pump dance. Or trying to cook together where they’re trying to surprise you with what is it but they’re also asking you to participate (I’m sorry I didn’t realize you would want me to scramble an egg into the pasta! I was confused!) 

So, whether you’ve given up or not, one day it will happen if you let it. Even if a relationship doesn’t last a lifetime, you get to spend a little part of your life with someone that, for the time being, you are happy with and they make you smile and they care about you. That’s not wasted time, that’s something to value and learn from. But also, don’t jump into something if you’re not ready for it or if you just want the idea of a relationship so badly. Take it from someone who waited almost 20 years, it’s worth the wait.