Society is not what it used to be. While many of our parents were married with children by the time they turned 22, our generation are just graduating from college. As for finding someone you want to marry? Well, that’s not exactly a priority.
However, do we really have ten years more than our parents to experiment and learn from our relationship mistakes?
We spoke to Counselling Psychologist Susan Eustace, the clinical director of the Centre for Professional Therapy, about the best way to navigate your twenties in terms of relationships, and how to reach that 30th birthday without going into panic mode.
“For young women the situation is complex. Our bodies are designed to have children in our twenties. So if a young woman enters university at 18 and completes a couple of degrees, then travels for a year or two, she will be in her mid to late 20s when she gets her first real job and into her thirties before she is in anyway financially stable. If in that time she hasn't given attention to forming and maintaining romantic relationships she may find she has a lot to learn in a short space of time.”
This pressure may cause us to make bad choices in terms of partners, but Susan says that you should always listen to your gut feeling:
“I encourage my clients to listen to their gut feelings, their intuition. Often people are amazed at just how accurate their gut feelings have been over the years and wonder what might have been had they paid attention to them.”
And if you’ve found you’ve gone from one bad relationship to another in your 20s, it’s time to take a step back:
“It can be very useful to take a step back and try to see what is similar about the men with whom we have been unsuccessfully involved. I encourage everyone to reflect on how they would like their life to be, who they would like to share it with and why. It can also be very useful to look for exceptions. Were there any relationships that worked better?
“Successfully negotiating our twenties involves quite a balancing act. On the one hand we need to try out different ways of being, to experiment and get to know ourselves, on the other hand we need to keep one eye on our biological clock. Although society has changed and from that perspective 30 may be the new 20, our bodies are very slow to change and so there are certain important life choices that simply cannot be postponed.”