A Complete Guide To Dating In Your 20s

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 “Dating has taught me what I want and don’t want, who I am, and who I want to be.”

~ Jennifer Love Hewitt

Navigating the world of dating in your 20s

Dating can be exciting and overwhelming, especially in your 20s. Although it can be exhilarating, it can also be quite exhausting. You’re searching for the love of your life – your forever partner. Whoa!

Searching for “the One” takes work – real work. Unfortunately, when you’re in your 20s, everyone expects you to know the ins and outs of dating, when, in reality, you’re fairly new to the game.

You can’t know everything…

How can you be expected to know how to handle everything, from playful crushes to crushing breakups without any guidance? That’s crazy, isn’t it?

Dating experiences vary from person to person— however, a trusty guide can help you avoid pitfalls, so you don’t end up saying, “I wish I’d known that in my 20s…”

But there are a few things to remember…

Dating doesn’t have to be a hot mess; in fact, it could be the best time of your life – if you follow the steps here. Are you ready to have some fun? Great, then let’s go!

Your 20s is a time to let loose and live your best life ever. However, it’s also a time to be introspective and cautious. So, have fun, but be smart about it.

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Actionable Steps


Figure out your dealbreakers in a relationship

First, get more in-tune with yourself. Figure out what you want in a partner and relationship before jumping in. How can you identify what you want? Make a list of deal-breakers.

Specifically, make a list of criteria that would disqualify a potential match. Be honest about what you will and will not accept from a partner/relationship.  
Examples of deal-breakers are:
1. A person who smokes cigarettes/e-cigs, and/or someone who does illegal drugs or drinks too much.
2. A person who has poor hygiene.
3. A person who doesn’t have a sense of humor.
4. Someone who is already in a relationship or married.
5. Someone who already has children.


Figure out what you actually want.

Then, make a list of things you like in a partner and relationship, such as:
1. A person with a dry sense of humor.
2. A person who is thoughtful and kind.
3. An intellectual person.
4. A person who wants to eventually have a family.
5. A person who puts others first.
Lastly, make a list of your best qualities, such as:
1. Compassionate and understanding.
2. Thoughtful and kind.
3. Funny.
4. Loving and affectionate.
5. Smart and a true “go-getter.”
The goal of these lists is to stop you from ending up with the wrong person.


Use your time wisely.

Another thing people don’t tell you in your 20s is to use your time wisely. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t actually have all the time in the world.

This is especially true if you’re a woman and want to start a family. But, this applies to men too!
If you play around, breaking hearts right and left, and/or become so picky and indecisive that you miss out on “the One” until you’re in your late 30s or later, you may experience a rocky path to starting a family together.
Disclaimer: Now, that doesn’t mean it won’t happen at more “advanced ages.” (Cough…I had my son at 40.) However, there are more obstacles and “concerns” later.

Therefore, it’s probably wise to date with intent in your 20s, if you want to get married/start a family in your 20s or early 30s.
Listed below are ways you can date with intent:

1. Don’t become obsessive about finding “the One.” In other words, get out and live. Go out with friends, train for a marathon, volunteer at a local shelter, take a class, etc. Don’t make finding a partner the highlight of your life.
2. Try to genuinely connect with your date. Find something you share and build on that connection. Ask questions, pay attention, and put away your smartphone!
3. Moreover, pay attention to red flags. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. So, if you get a bad feeling on a date, abandon ship.

Call your date the next day, and explain that you need time to figure out what you really want and once you do, you’ll let them know. Then, continue searching for “the One.”
4. Try to have fun on your dates. In other words, don’t get so caught up in finding someone that you forget to enjoy yourself!

5. Refrain from talking non-stop about “getting married” and “having kids.” Plan a date where you are bound to have fun. Then, go from there.
In addition, be patient and use your time wisely. Get to know your date, and allow them to get to know you.


Date around.

What does “date around” mean? It means going on lots of dates with different types of people. It can take a while to find the right person, so get to know those who interest you, whether they are your “normal type” or not. Be open-minded too.
How can you meet people you don’t normally interact with? By taking a class that brings all kinds of people together. Or, meeting people at sporting events, a bookstore, a church service, a festival, a concert, the mall, or even the movies.
There are so many ways to meet a partner, it’s insane! You can even meet people online – in the comfort of your own home! Here are the top-rated online dating sites.

Note: I’d refrain from dating people at work because it could get a little dicey if things don’t work out.
The key to getting the most out of dating in your 20s is being open to new people and experiences. How else are you going to meet the person of your dreams? So, get up and start dating!


Be yourself when dating in your 20s.

Another great tip is to be yourself. Cliché, but true. No one is worth compromising your morals, values, and dignity. You’re better than that, and you deserve better than that.

If a potential match doesn’t like you for who you are, then they aren’t worth your time and effort.
Be you, because you’re awesome just the way you are. Ask your friends, co-workers, and acquaintances to share what they LOVE about you. You’ll get a lengthy list of ways you’re special.

Be yourself and allow people to like and love you for who you really are – not who you’re pretending to be. 
You can only “fool” someone for so long before the person sees who you really are, so be upfront and allow them to decide if they want to go the long haul with you. If not, there are other fish in the sea, so keep looking.


Be cautious.

Also, be cautious. Dating in your 20s can be dangerous if you don’t pay attention to first impressions and red flags. This is especially true for online dating, but also for in-person dating. Furthermore, rely on your gut. It will tell you everything you need to know about a person, so listen to your gut before diving head-first into a bad relationship.


Move on!

Lastly, if you’re not feeling the love from your date, move on. Don’t hold on to someone whose heart, attention, and effort has left the building. Also, don’t hold on simply because you’re lonely. Keep your eyes on the prize: finding a long-term partner.


Read the longer version.

You can learn more about dating in your 20s by reading the following articles: Why Dating in Your 20s Is Terrible by The Cut, Dating in Your 20s by AskMen, 9 Reasons Dating In Your 20s Is the Worst by The Flare, and The Lost Art Of Dating: Learning How To Date In Your 20s by Elite Daily.

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About the Author

Dr. R. Y. Langham

Dr. R. Y. Langham

Ph.D. in Family Psychology

Ree has a Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy (M.M.F.T.) and a Ph.D. in Family Psychology. She spent over ten years counseling families, couples, individuals, and children on adjustment issues such as blended families, same-sex couples, dysfunctional family relationships, relationship issues, etc. Now she writes for famous health organizations and is a published author.
Full Bio | LinkedIn

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