The (Damaging) Idea of Dating To Marry in Your Twenties

Let’s be real: dating as a 20-something isn’t always a walk in the park. The dating scene seems to change constantly, and social media has only made it worse — shoving perfect relationship posts down our throats, coaching us on socially-acceptable looks and behaviors, and pressuring us to find “the one” before we’ve even applied for grad school. Isn’t the whole point of dating right now to have fun and learn what you’re into?

I see it on Twitter all the time: “You should be dating to marry...You’re too old to be wasting anyone’s time...If you don’t see a future together, then what’s the point of dating?” And all of those statements couldn’t be further from the truth. I think it's this exact mindset that has sent my previous relationships — as well as countless others — straight towards a breakup. Putting pressure on ourselves as young adults to find the one we’re going to marry when we don’t even fully know who we are stunts not only our growth, but the potential growth of our relationships too. 

In my last relationship, my partner frequently spoke about our (very distant) future together — like, marriage and children distant. At the time, I thought it was sweet to have someone think about wanting to live their life with me — and don’t get me wrong, it is. But later on, in the relationship, listening to him make plans for our future made me uncomfortable. Not because I don’t want all of those things for myself, I just don’t want them right now. I don’t even want to think about them right now!

It can obviously ​be super nice to have a romantic partner, but life is supposed to be fun in your twenties! If you’re too busy stressing about your relationship and striving for perfection, maybe it's time to rethink dating your significant other. There’s nothing wrong with taking these years to figure yourself out, and especially to figure out what exactly it is you’re into romantically. After my last breakup, a friend of mine mentioned the idea of dating multiple people and seeing who I really hit it off with, and I honestly forgot that that was even a thing! I feel we often get so caught up in the idea of finding a soulmate that we forget to let things flow naturally. 

The point of this article isn’t to bash anyone currently in a relationship, whether it be serious or not. If you’re in a loving, healthy, serious relationship that works for you, that’s perfectly fine! That’s what dating should be — fun, easy and natural. You should be able to one day date someone that you know for a fact you’ll marry in the future. I’m just saying that it shouldn’t be the one thing pressuring you to stay with them. 

Something I’ve been focusing on is spending more time with my friends and finding ways to express myself outside of being in a relationship. You’re a 20-something! Dye your hair, go out with friends, make some art, maybe even make a bad decision! Live your life without being entangled with someone that’s more focused on the label and the end goal than having a good time. Figure out who you are and who you like before you go out and find someone. Right now we should be focusing on who we are, not who we’re with.

self-love and swing

Since my last relationship, I’ve decided to really take a step back and think about what I’m looking for romantically right now in my life. And the answer is, not much. I’m open to finding someone and seeing where things go with them, but I’ve retired the idea that everyone could be the one. One of the most freeing, fun and important things we should be doing right now is learning things about ourselves and what we want out of the relationships in our lives — and not just the romantic ones. Letting yourself relax and have fun will eventually lead you to the person you’re supposed to spend the rest of your life with. Until then, enjoy these learning experiences, because they’ll eventually all add up to the romance of your dreams.