If you could go back in time to your twenties and be a fly on the wall during a conversation between you and your friends, about your dating life, you’d probably want to jump off the wall and scream, “No! You got it all wrong! Ugh. You’re going to get so hurt.” You had some pretty wrong ideas about dating and relationships back then. In your twenties, all you hoped for was an extreme physical attraction and a decent connection. So long as a guy wasn’t abusive and was attractive, you thought you’d hit the jackpot. Of course, you didn’t date anyone long enough to know that the physical attraction ceases to be exciting and if there isn’t other excitement there, the whole thing just dies. You didn’t realize a lot of things. Here are relationship truths 20-year-old-you wouldn’t have believed.
Monogamy shouldn’t have to be stated
If you’ve been dating a guy for half a year and spending a lot of time together, you shouldn’t have to state that you’re exclusive in order for him not to sleep with other people. He can, technically, use the excuse that you didn’t state it if he does sleep with someone else. But that guy’s probably just going to be a cheater. He is clearly in the habit of looking for excuses to have sex with other people.
Feeling safe doesn’t mean feeling bored
When you were young, you mistook feeling safe for feeling bored. You thought you had to feel nervous, nauseous, and confused in order to be compatible with someone (it sounds so silly now that you hear it, right?) Now you know that you should seek out that sense of total ease and comfort with somebody.
Don’t go off looks alone
As you get older, you learn not to pay attention to physical attractiveness. You may have some basic requirements, but you actively disregard what men look like when meeting a group of men. If you walk into a party, you give all eligible men equal time. You’re looking for a connection—a spark. You don’t give all your time to the man you find the most attractive because you know you could be wasting your time.
It’s not all about sex
Twenty-year-old-you would never believe that there could come a point when you only have sex with your partner a few times a month. Young you firmly believed that if you didn’t want to get it on all of the time that you just weren’t meant for each other.
If you have to talk about it, it’s doomed
You probably cannot believe how much time you spent dissecting and analyzing your relationships with your girlfriends. Now you know that if you need to spend a lot of time analyzing a relationship it’s because that relationship is doomed. You live good relationships; you don’t analyze them.
The beginning should be a breeze
Remember how much crap you’d put up with in new relationships? From selfishness to bad communication? You believed you just had to work on these guys—to teach them. Now you know that people show you who they are upfront and you can take it or leave it, but you cannot change it. If a new relationship is hard, it’s the wrong relationship.
Two years is not a long relationship
You used to thing that a two-year relationship was like a lifelong relationship! Now you know that getting through two years is nothing. You have enough excitement chemicals running through your brain to carry you through two years easily without problems. Today, you still see a two-year relationship as quite new. You’re impressed by ten-year relationships.
Your friends really do know best
Your friends have always known when a guy wasn’t good for you. They dropped hints. You thought they just didn’t understand you. Now you’re like, “Huh? How did I believe that my friends who had known me for years didn’t understand me as well as a guy who had known me for, like, a month? That logic was whack.”
Without trust, you have nothing
You don’t even waste time in relationships where there isn’t trust. If you don’t feel like you can trust a man, or if a man struggles to trust you, you’re out. You know that trust is the foundation of any successful relationship so you’re not even going to waste your time if there isn’t trust.
Relationships shouldn’t feel like work
Relationships are work, but the good ones don’t feel like work because there is so much love, support, and positivity helping you along the way. Your efforts are couched in so many warm and loving feelings that you don’t really feel like you’re making an effort. If you feel like the relationship is hard, it’s the wrong one.
If you have doubts, they’re probably true
You always had your greatest therapist, your most trustworthy confidante, and your most accurate counselor right by your side. Sorry—right inside of you. You always had your intuition! When you were young, you ignored it, because your brain wanted different things than your intuition did. Now you know that ignoring your intuition always leads to trouble. If you have doubts about a relationship, you know it’s probably over.
Build your life, and the right man will come
You used to accommodate and bend over backwards for relationships. You’d do less of the things you loved in order to make time for your boyfriends. Now, you confidently, assertively live the life you want to live and do the things you want to do. Any man who manages to make a relationship work with you within the life you love is the man for you.
Nothing makes you happier than a healthy relationship
While you should nurture every part of your life from your career to your friendships, you also learn to give up some of your ego. There was a time when you never thought you’d forego an extremely high-paying, high-status job for a man. But today, maybe you’ve been in a long-term relationship with a man you love so deeply that you’d give up a job if it meant staying with him. You know that no career move will ever bring you the joy that a loving relationship will.
You can’t separate your love life and your life
Remember those relationships where you’d sneak away to see a guy after going out with your friends all night? Or, you’d only see a guy for weekend getaways, but never for a weeknight hang? Your love life and your life were separate. You don’t have the patience for that anymore. You want to be with your friends and your man and you just need to find a man who is down to tag along.
Common interests really do matter
You always heard that common interests were important but you never quite understood why before. You couldn’t see how an interest in 1800s Greek art could mean a love connection. But now you recognize that interests and hobbies are just symptoms of beliefs and values. You probably do have a lot more in common with the guys in your night class than meets the eye.