I Love You…At My Earliest Convenience: A Working Girl’s Take on Love in Your Twenties and Thirties

On Cupid’s to-do list, those in their early twenties to early thirties are swiftly overlooked. Brimming with both adrenaline and hormones, this age group is left to fend for itself without Cupid’s catalystic arrows. Unfortunately the results are often cataclysmic.

Let’s start with some givens. Typically, your twenties and thirties comprise of (but are not limited to) the following:
  • Exploring different interests
  • Meeting new people
  • Starting a career, post-graduate studies
  • Self-discovery, soul searching
  • Traveling
  • Establishing a core group of friends
  • Seeking independence to some degree

This list is definitely subject to commentary and/or criticism, but from talking to others my age, I’ve found that these are common denominators among my cohorts.
My theory is rooted in the notion that it is a challenge to find love at this point in your life. (Note: I did not say that it’s impossible to find love. In fact, it’s very possible and very true for a lucky group of people who are in happy, stable relationships.)

At this age, we busy the days with setting ourselves apart, standing our own ground, and establishing our niche in the wide world. The future is ahead of us and any distraction is simply a headwind we have to face. As we make progress as young professionals, Love begins to take a backseat to personal goals, which is why I think people who are in long-term relationships at this age experience friction with each other. You suddenly have less time, less energy, less interest in spending every waking moment with your significant other like old times. You’re trying new things, becoming more independent, so the 24/7 kind of affection you once found endearing suddenly feels like suffocation. Couples who are flexible with the change or who are willing to work through it, I think, are the ones that make it over the hurdle. Those who decide they need more space (or on the flip side, more attention) move on and end up in the singles pool like yours truly.

Anyway, here’s my theory. This goes out to everyone else who has recently had a run-in with heartbreakers (the only euphemism I could come up with for “assholes” or “bitches”) . If I come off as bitter or critical, I really do mean to be reassuring, so help me out and read between the lines!

Ever hear, “It’s not you, it’s me”? Similarly, what I’m trying to say is, “It’s not you, it’s everyone!”

From a woman’s perspective, I’ll say that it’s a challenge to harbor my feminine instincts to be cared for and wooed while at the same time know that for myself, I want to find a career and excel at it. So as a result, I’m cautious – wary, even – of “getting too attached.” To me, being in a a relationship is another full-time job, one that requires an investment of even more time and more emotion on top of those that my actual full-time job already demands. This is the plight that I feel many people at this chapter in life share. If a guy gets too clingy, I tend to back off and think, “Whoa, there, mister. I don’t have time to pine for you. I’ve got people to see, places to go, languages to learn, and marathons to run before I have time and energy to allocate to THAT.”
Therein lies the rub. At the core, doesn’t everyone want someone to feel that way about them? Then to be able to return those kinds of feelings, genuinely? So then, by keeping your feelings at a threshold, you end up prompting the other person to do the same. And you have a desperately thrilling but incredibly meaningless kind of thing that dissipates faster than you can spell out “dissipate” at a spelling bee. In a way, by trying to keep yourself from getting hurt, you actually set yourself up to be disappointed.
Then again, if I had a penny for every time I heard someone say, “Oh, I’m just having fun right now,” in regard to relationships, I could spend at least a month in the penny arcade. Now, why would I want to waste my time with someone who sees things that way? Why should you? Ultimately, the freedom that you have in your twenties is reason for celebration as well as for caution in terms of love. You have the flexibility to choose and to try but at the same time can be chosen and tried. Ya dig?
I don’t know. I deliberately leave this post without a conclusion so that you all have room to insert your own thoughts. I really enjoy the feedback some of these posts get, so keep it coming! We could get a really interesting, perhaps even helpful, discussion going.

I’ll take the extreme on this one and decide not to expect TOO much out of Love in your twenties. Part of that I say in jest, but really – I’d rather be pleasantly surprised by being proven wrong than disappointed by being proven right.

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