Everything happens so fast when you’re in your twenties. One moment you’re a student, the next you’re trying to navigate through work and your social life.
You’re scared that you’ll have to move back with your parents and you’re definitely experiencing a lot of heartbreak.
You wear your heart proudly on your sleeve because you believe that the world is just as good as your soul. That’s why you’re such a romantic in your 20s. You fall in love with someone and think that they’re your forever.
But most importantly, our 20s are the time when we learn the most. We learn lessons that they couldn’t teach us in school. Because of that, I wanted to share the little things that I’ve learned about relationships and myself. I learned a lot, so I believe that these lessons can be helpful to someone out there who’s struggling as well.
This is also a little recap. A little reminder to myself in case I ever forget these things.
1. Boundaries are necessary
In a romantic relationship, we often forget to set boundaries. We think that we need to give ourselves fully to a partner and that setting boundaries would only push them away.
We’re not taught to set boundaries from a young age. We have to learn that by ourselves, so it’s hard to understand the concept right away.
You assume that when you set boundaries, people will get mad at you and not want to stay in your life anymore.
What I’ve learned in my 20s is that boundaries are a necessity if we want to make a romantic relationship work. We have our different wants and needs that need to be met in order for us to stay happy in the relationship.
You can’t expect someone to read your mind. You have to voice your boundaries and then see if they’ll respect them.
When you set boundaries, it’s like natural selection. All the people who don’t respect you will soon walk away from you. And the great thing about that is: You don’t need them anyway.
2. You’re not jealous, your environment is toxic
Jealousy is such a sensitive topic. It can be extremely damaging and toxic to a relationship if you don’t have it under control.
But sometimes you’re not really jealous. It’s the environment that’s the problem.
I’ve had this issue where I stated my boundaries clearly. I told my ex that I wasn’t comfortable when he’d talk with his female best friend more than with me.
He’d go out with her, they would always comment on each other’s photos with hearts, and they were obviously flirting.
That’s when he gaslighted me and said that I was the problem because I was jealous. No, I wasn’t. I was just in a relationship with a man who didn’t respect me.
So remember, some people will put you in a toxic environment and then tell you that you’re the issue. You’re not.
3. Communication truly is the key
When you don’t communicate about issues, you’re leaving a lot of gray areas for overanalyzing and overthinking. And that’s not healthy for both you and your partner.
You can’t read your partner’s mind and neither can he read yours.
I always knew that communication was the most important thing in any type of relationship, especially in a romantic one.
But when certain situations would escalate, I’d unintentionally pull into myself. Because of that, I started to become more and more silent about the things that bothered me.
Needless to say, the relationships that didn’t involve healthy communication are relationships that fell apart on their own.
4. You’re not perfect
This was a tough pill to swallow. We all have a toxic voice in our own minds that continuously reminds us of our flaws. On the other hand, when someone else points out those flaws, we get extremely defensive.
I did that. All of my friends and exes did that, too. One moment they’re making self-deprecating jokes, the next moment their God-complex is showing.
But it’s so important to acknowledge your own mistakes and take responsibility for what you’ve done. If you hurt your partner, it’s your responsibility to apologize and fix things.
We’re not perfect, we all make mistakes – that’s what makes us human! Because of that, we need to forgive ourselves, but also apologize to others.
5. You’re not responsible for what he does with his emotions
When you’re in a romantic relationship with a man who’s manipulative, he will threaten to hurt himself if you decide to leave him.
This is what someone does when they’re afraid that you may abandon them. So they turn to this manipulation tactic. That’s exactly why I stayed in an emotionally draining relationship for years.
You’re not responsible for what your partner does with his emotions. Sometimes, he’ll have a healthy coping mechanism, but other times he may get extremely toxic. You need to stand your ground!
If he hurt you, confront him about it. Don’t stay silent because you may upset him. You’re responsible for your own emotions, not for the way someone else feels when you voice the obvious issues.
6. It’s more important to run after your dreams than to run after a man
The biggest thing about relationships that I’ve ever learned is that we don’t need anyone but ourselves.
These are the years where you’ll have to build yourself up and start creating your future. When you keep on running after a man and keep molding yourself to fit into his life, you start to lose yourself.
You have so many dreams and aspirations in your life, and a man may just ruin that for you.
Although there are many couples who thrive when they’re together, it doesn’t mean that everyone can do that. Those couples work on the basis of compromise. But that doesn’t mean that you should run after the dreams of your partner.
Run after your own.
7. No man is worth sacrificing your mental health
How many times have we cried over a man already, and we’re only in our twenties? There are many relationship lessons that we have to learn, but this one is super important.
Because of our love for a man, we tend to completely forget to take care of our own mental health.
Those same men abuse us, treat us badly, and gaslight us. They’re the ones who make us feel worthless and remind us each day that we’re overly sensitive.
No man is worthy of your silence in situations like these. You have the right to speak up for yourself and remove yourself from situations like these. Your mental health shouldn’t decline when you’re with your partner.
This is something I’m struggling with to this day.
8. You’re the most permanent thing in your life
It’s sad to say this, but people will leave and never look back for no reason at all. They will forget about you, no matter how hard you may try to keep them around.
They always say that you should be single in your twenties. Sometimes, that’s not an option because you may just meet your soulmate at a very young age.
That said, you shouldn’t settle for a boy when you could have a man later on in life.
Right now, you need to mostly focus on yourself. Romantic partners will come and go, but you will always have yourself.
Lady Gaga once said that your career won’t wake up one morning and tell you it doesn’t love you anymore. That’s why it’s so important to invest in yourself first.
Your soulmate will find his way into your arms, but you’re still the most permanent thing in your life.