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Dating in your twenties is a dangerous game. Whether you're looking for a passionate fling, or something a little more serious, chances are you're going to get hurt pretty bad at some point.

Well, a new study has revealed why twenty-somethings struggle when it comes to staying faithful to their partners, and the answer is so cliché it almost hurts – we're just trying to find ourselves.

Yep. Turns out we're as predictable as the plot twist in a Hugh Grant film, and we hate being tied down at that pivotal point in our lives.

The study, published in the Journal of Sex Research, surveyed 104 adults with an average age of 22, who all admitted to cheating in the last six months.

To make them feel a little better about themselves and encourage total honesty throughout the survey, participants were given a paragraph to read about how common cheating is.

They were then questioned about their current and past relationships, had their attachment to their current partners analysed and were asked to explain the ins and outs of how they cheated.

Interestingly, most participants did not try to make excuses for being unfaithful, but rather explained that they did it for reasons related to independence and interdependence.

Most felt as though their relationship was holding them back from new experiences and stopped them from reaching their full potential as an adult.

When it came to issues related to interdependence, many participants said their current partner was not fulfilling their need for intimacy, they felt lonely, or they didn't have enough in common.

The study's authors said: "Because emerging adulthood is thought to be a time of exploration and experimentation, it is possible that engaging in infidelity is a path through which individuals seek to meet their developmental needs for independence and interdependence and promote their individual development." 

Basically young people cheat because they have no idea who they are or what they want, apparently.

Others reasons cited by participants included boredom and excitement as well as being under the influence of alcohol – *eye-roll*

So, go out and find yourself, but just try not to hurt anyone during the process. 

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Ah, the world of romance is interesting, especially in your early twenties. 

The motley crew of guys that you cross paths with during these years are an interesting bunch.

And, believe it or not, you learn something from every one of them – even when you think that you didn't. 

So, let's dive in and see what the f*ck we were thinking…

1. The Friend

Okay, let's just get this one out of the way first.

While some people escape their early twenties without having fallen foul to this, then fair play to you.

However, a hell of a lot of us do end up sleeping with a mate because, tbh, you spend a lot of time with them and you guys are MATES i.e have chosen to voluntarily spend time with each other. 

And if they look like Nick from New Girl, then you, my friend, are a goner. 

2. The Ex

This is a risky little one here now.

You finally decide to split up after weeks of shittiness only to end up having sex when you go over to his to get your stuff?

What are you, stupid?

Well, yeah, yeah you are…that's all there really is to this one. 

3. The Hot Bartender 

Even if you haven't got it on with the hot guy throwing cocktails shakers in the air behind the bar, don't EVEN act like you've never wanted to/thought about it. 

I think there's deffo some law somewhere that says that all barmen are immediately hot because they are barmen.

They're usually either shit craic or cheating on their gf's, so I personally wouldn't bother…but you will anyway. 

4. The Please-Can-I-Erase-That-From-My-Mind One

It doesn't have to necessarily be someone you really don't fancy to slot into this category. 

Maybe he was a co-worker and now you've to sit across from him in the Monday morning meeting or he could be a pal of your ex or something.

Best thing – deal with it like a grown up by ignoring it…should work. 

5. The Exotic One

It might happen on hols in a dodgy Portuguese bar, or it could be a Tinder date with a fab Frenchman or you could be backpacking around the world and stumble into the most gorge person from who knows where and fall madly in lust. 

Whatever way you do meet this exotic creature, it'll be memorable because culture-clashing is a real thing. 

And who gives a sh*t if you can't understand a word they're saying when they look so…tanned?

6. The F*ckboy

C'mon – who hasn't crossed over to the Dark Side?

That Side is usually occupied by a guy with a man-bun and a massive ego but we, for some reason, swoon like eejits.

Look, just think of it as a rite of passage and try not to feel too guilty about it. 

7. The ''Ick'' One

Made famous by Olivia Attwood on last year's Love Island, the ''ick'' happens – without warning or reason – in the early stages of seeing someone.

The guy that you thought was cute mere days before has suddenly in your eyes morphed into the most unappealing person EVER and your skin crawls at the thought of being near them.

Harsh, but true. And you will forever associate the ''ick'' with them – soz guys. 

Of course, mixed in there are some amazing guys, fab flings and brilliant boyfriends – so enjoy every minute of it!

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Dating in this day and age is an absolute mind field.

We have to navigate and hopefully dodge catfishers, serial ghosters and players – just to name a few.

It may come as no surprise when you reach your 30s, you can look back on your history with 'fond' memories of the trials and tribulations of the dating world.

 

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Our main Love Island hun, Caroline Flack has done just that.

In a candid letter to the "men of her thirties", the presenter gets real about the ups and downs of relationships.

After she detailed the nitty gritty (cough, cough Harry Styles), she paid a beautiful tribute to her fiance, Andrew Brady.

 

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Penning the letter for Cosmopolitan magazine, the 38-year-old said:

"I dated friends and I dated younger men and I dated men who were hopelessly inappropriate and it was all… fun."

"Dating as a thirty-something woman felt more powerful than dating in my twenties – and all you guys made me see that," she continued.

 

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"By your thirties, you’ve survived heartbreak, you’ve survived long, messy relationships, you’ve survived unrequited love and maddening love that leaves you tired and confused and willing to give it all up. Those are important things to have gone through and survived."

"People talk about meeting someone and feeling as though you’ve known them your whole life. That’s what it felt like when I met you… We laugh until we cry. I’ve never had that before – with anyone.

"Every other relationship I’ve had has only been about love, but with you it’s about friendship, too. It’s what I’ve been looking for," she wrote.

 

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"My life was complete before you came into it – a man doesn’t complete your life. But I wanted to make room in it for you. I look at you and I think, Yes, Andrew, you’re the one I’ve been waiting for," she concluded.

Sorry, we were just sobbing.

The pair announced their engagement in April and here's hoping that we'll get just as lucky in love. 

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“My title for that period of my life would be, ‘It was the Worst of Times, It Was the Worst of Times.’ Did I mention it was the hardest time of my life?”

I hope that in ten or twenty years, I won’t look back at my twenties quite so viciously as actress Lisa Kudrow does, but it’s still refreshing to hear that us millennials are not the only ones struggling with this period of adulthood.

After years of being looked after by parents, teachers and lecturers, no-one tells you that the real world can be a difficult place to face alone. If things don’t go exactly to plan or we find ourselves floundering, it can be tough to put things in perspective and realise that our twenties are just one small part of something much bigger.

“Your whole life is ahead of you, yet you have no identity. You're kind of an adult, but you aren't really treated as an adult,” said Lisa in the same interview… and she is right. We might spend all of our teenage years dying to get out on our own and find out exactly who we are – but when it actually comes down to it, self-discovery can be a very slow process.

We have so many plans for what we’ll do when we’re finally living in the adult world. We’ll get that dream job instantly, live in a gorgeous Carrie Bradshaw-style apartment and spend every evening drinking cocktails to ease the stress of another busy but highly productive day.

If only. The reality is that we end up living from payday to payday, settling for a job that’s not QUITE what we want to be doing, getting way too drunk on the weekends and spending Sundays crippled by The Fear. Not quite living the dream, is it?

The thing is though, every adult goes through some sort of transitional period before things start slotting into place. For some it might last longer than others, but that’s all it is, a time of change. Things will start clicking, it just takes patience.

“In your twenties, you’re all about who you don’t want to be. In your thirties, you’re asking yourself who do you want to be. And in your forties, you realise you just are who you are.” Another quote inspiring some hope, this time from actress and comedian Amy Poehler.

But the truth is, we shouldn’t have to wait ten or fifteen years for things to start working in our favour. Yes, our twenties can be a difficult and confusing time, but once we are aware of that, it becomes easier to move with the tide and just take things as they come. Life’s not meant to be easy just yet.

Mad Men actress Elizabeth Moss had the right idea when she said, “Almost everyone says the same thing [to those in their twenties], which is relax, don’t worry…you should take that advice now, you know what I mean? Because in ten years, you’ll be telling yourself the same thing.”

Rather than looking back at these years a decade down the line, let’s live them now and just accept whatever is thrown at us. Our twenties might not be all smooth sailing, but that’s no reason to waste them worrying about the future.

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  1. You’re going to be broke for a very long time. Stock up on noodles and make the best of it.
  2. The first time you fall in love probably won’t be the last. There are different kinds of love and people that will come into your life for different reasons.
  3. You will undeniably grow apart from your school/collegefriends in some ways. You’re going to move and get into relationships and careers that take up a lot of your time and rather than resent each other for that, cherish the time that you do have to spend together.
  4. Nothing in your life is permanent. That’s horrifying and invigorating all at the same time. You have to embrace change and accept that it is 100% necessary.
  5. You’re never going to look “perfect”, but you’re beautiful the way you are. Accept what you see in the mirror and stop trying to change it. You’re young and vibrant. Own it.
  6. You’re going to feel alone sometimes. It’s going to seem like everyone has their own lives and you are floating in the ocean all by your lonesome. That’s okay. In the end, you can only really count on yourself, and you will become stronger from the moments you felt abandoned.
  7. There’s never going to be a time that you will not need your parents in many ways.
  8. You’re going to feel unappreciated, defeated, and disappointed at times.
  9. You’re going to change your mind about things. You can’t feel guilty about leaving a relationship, area or career if it’s not what’s best for you. Changing your mind is what you’re supposed to do.
  10. The job market isn’t what it used to be. Your college degree or work history isn’t an easy ticket to success anymore. You are going to have to constantly prove yourself. Hard work is good.
  11. The past is over. You have to let go of every ‘what could have been’ and go forward.
  12. It’s not always going to be easy to be a good person. You’re going to have to fight for what you believe is right and sometimes no one will seem to agree with you.
  13. Not everyone is going to like you and if you think that it’s possible you will kill yourself trying.
  14. You’re going to misjudge people. Don’t beat yourself up over trying to see the good in someone.
  15. When you do find your person, they aren’t going to be perfect. Your relationship or marriage will be hard sometimes. It isn’t about thinking someone is perfect, it’s about knowing that they are perfect for you. You need to marry your best friend, not your ‘dream’ man or woman.
  16. Your body is going to change. Whether its due to having children or not having enough money for a gym membership, you’re not always going to look 20. Remember #4 – you’re beautiful. Your body is supposed to change just like everything else in life does.
  17. You’re going to fall on your face multiple times. This could from a relationship or job or really anything, but it will happen. You have to brush yourself off and learn from your mistakes.
  18. Not everything will be like you imagine it now. You may not want to dish out the money you’d need to have your Pinterest Wedding or have the job you imagined for yourself, that’s okay.
  19. Your core values will not always align with those of the people around you. But you need to stand by them.
  20. You’re going to feel like a different person after these years and probably know a heck of a lot more than you do now. It’s most important that you remember who you are in your heart. Love freely. Move towards your dreams. Accept imperfection and realize that life will get messy, but it’s a beautiful mess and it’s all yours.

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