When it comes to relatable TV shows, there are not many that give a realistic view of life for a twenty-something.
One that succeeds though, is HBO’s Girls. If you’re a fan of the show, you’ll know that as well as hitting the nail on the head about money troubles, career uncertainty and toxic friendships, Lena Dunham also makes one fact VERY clear: Relationships are not easy at this stage of our lives. They are messy. Things never go as planned. There will be ups and downs – probably more downs.
Forget The Notebook any of that Nicholas Sparks mushy stuff – life just isn’t like that, though it makes for a great movie. If you want to survive your twenties, it’s important to remember that these are the years when you should come first. That’s not to say you should pursue life as a hermit (unless you want to, then by all means go ahead), but simply that you should be the most important person right now.
Many of us only have our first serious relationships at this stage of our lives and it’s easy to get lost in the whirlwind of it all. You’ve never felt so happy, or so complete – why would you give that up? Don’t forget though – relationships are all about compromise. There will come a stage when one of you has to make some sort of sacrifice for the other’s happiness. If you’re the one making all of those sacrifices and putting in all the effort, that’s an alarm bell.
Being selfish might not seem like the nicest characteristic, but sometimes it’s necessary to protect yourself. Spending all of your time and energy focusing on someone else means that you’re neglecting your own personal growth. Much as it’s important to be committed in a relationship, there has to be a sense of independence for you both as well. Only by knowing that can you forge a healthy path together.
Whatever happens in love at this stage of your life, don’t forget that you CAN make mistakes. In fact, it’s pretty much expected that you’ll make a lot of bad decisions in your twenties, and hopefully a few good ones too. Like everything else that happens as you grow into your adulthood, love is a learning curve and it might not go as you expected. So throw away that Five Year Plan and embrace this period of uncertainty.
A relationship that ends badly is never easy, but if it means that you come away knowing exactly what your fundamental needs are from a partner, that’s a huge positive. Maybe you need someone who understands every bit of you. Maybe you need someone who you can rely on to be there for you, or just to show up at all.
Whatever it is that you want from a relationship, let these be the years that you figure it all out.