Let me start this off by saying I'm almost 28 and single. (Pause for gasps of horror) ya, I get it.
By now, everyone including the weird girl in 2nd grade who used to befriend spiders and collect dust bunnies is married and probably has a baby on the way.
Can I just say it? Dating in your 20s is a total cluster fuck.
In your early 20s, it's all about the tasting menu of every and any guy/girl to see what you like. As you get older though you realize that your taste not only changes but your 'pool' begins to shrink rapidly. People start getting swept up and then all of a sudden you're 28, single, and wondering how you're going to get through the Hunger Games of dating before you hit 30.
I mean it is, though. Dating in your early 20s is like catching fish in a barrel, but once you hit a certain again all of a sudden it becomes an audition for a Broadway play you don't even want to be on. I don't want to make myself presentable. I don't want to giggle at every one of his terrible jokes. But if I'm going to survive this I better slap on a nice outfit and vaseline my teeth to appear approachable and *ugh* dateable.
Being single in your late 20s consists of every family gathering zeroing in on why you're not dating anyone or "what happened to the nice boy you were with a few months ago?" The worst is when your family keeps reminding you of the one guy who broke your heart 3 break ups ago. "Wasn't Chris such a nice boy? Why aren't you two together anymore?"
Because he cheated on me, Grandma.
In your late 20s, you've been to what feels like a zillion baby showers and you can't make any summer plans because you're in like 5 weddings. By the way, you shouldn't be allowed to be in weddings if you're single. And here's why:
Top 5 things you definitely hear if you're single at your best friend's wedding:
- "It's not too late for you dear."
- "My son, he's not here tonight, but I could give you his number, he's very successful."
- "Better get in there if you want to catch the bouquet!!"
- "Well if you do the math you still have a few more childbearing years."
- And the original from the drunk groomsman, "Always the bridesmaid...."
It's not that I feel the need to be in a relationship because of some biological countdown or an overpriced party that is more for your family and friends than for you. It's not. Because here's the thing, you can not want kids, not want to get married, be the most independent boss babe out there and still just want to love someone and have that love reciprocated. You want to find a partner who you can share your life with, the good and the bad, with no judgment, burden or obligation.
I've admittedly resorted to Bumble or Tinder for that surrogate comfort. Especially post break up, you just want someone to give you attention and to take an interest in you since the person you were with no longer does.
Now that's something that has changed from when I was in my early 20s. In my early 20s, when I got dumped I would just party wth my gal pals until I got distracted by the next guy at the bar. It doesn't work like that anymore. Dating in your late 20s means you get invested. You love quicker. You're mature enough to keep yourself open. You know what being open even fucking means!!!
I'll level with you. I just got dumped by someone who I felt really safe with. He's liked me for a long time and I was so sure it was going to work out. So, I did the late 20s thing. I let myself be open. I let myself believe that this would be long term. I didn't feel like we were rushing anything but I had no reason to be doubtful or to believe that I'd ever have to consider the outcome that I'm forced to face now. And that's when you hear it. Something you never heard in your early 20s but has become the resounding bell of your late 20s, "I'm not lovable."
Which is why I'm sitting here with a half drunk bottle of cheap merlot listening to Dallas Green like the emotional mess that my week has been. There is that fear that you'll never meet someone. Or by the time you do, your eggs will be shriveled up worse than your finger after sitting in a hot tub for too long. The voice of doubt and judgement only gets louder as we get older. We are so quick to blame ourselves and that makes sense. When you get dumped it's hard to conceptualized that it's not you. After all, you keep getting dumped so at some point, aren't YOU the constant? No. Shut up.
The truth is you are loveable. You are worthy. You just haven't met someone who celebrates that. And who gives a fuck if you haven't met them in your late 20s? You're still in your 20s!! My friend Courtney reminded me of a Grey's quote this week that sums it up, "He's very dreamy, but he's not the sun. You are."
What I'm learning is that being single in your late 20s is just an opportunity. You don't have any reason to NOT do something. You can be you. Fully. You can explore and focus as much or as little as you want. And you get to do it at a time in your life when you're the most self-aware you've ever been! That is such a liberating feeling.
I'll admit, none of this is easy for me. Sure I can sit here and say all these empowering things but the actions are a lot harder to follow through on. That said, instead of dwelling on what I don't have I'm choosing to start focussing on what I do. Celebrate yourself. Pump your soul with self-love, friendships, experiences, new challenges, and fears. The sooner you do that the quicker you will realize that being single in your late 20s is no different than any other time in your life. Your coping mechanisms may be different, you will undoubtedly ride less mechanical bulls hopped up on Jagerbombs in order to get over a breakup, but you are still the brave, intelligent, talented and bold person you have always been, and you don't need a relationship to tell you that.
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