Many moons ago, people in their early twenties were all settling down, getting married and popping out children all over the shop.
Now, however, the average age to get married in the UK is 34.3 for women and 36.7 for men.
Times are a changing and many of us now have a whole decade of singlehood dotted with relationships here and there to navigate before tying the knot.
But rather than the idea of being single as tragic and sad, it’s something to be celebrated - in fact, society tends to encourage young adults to be single so they can go off, have adventures and focus on their own personal development without being tied down.
Having been with her boyfriend for eight years, this is something 25-year-old Alicia has experienced: “At first it was fine, but as the years piled up more and more people respond with shock when I tell them how long I've been with my boyfriend,” she explained to The Independent.
“Sometimes they seem to pity me, as if I'm probably too scared of change to break up with him. Others wonder how the hell we can still be bothered to sleep with each other, because surely the spark died years ago?
“Whether or not they believe me when I say it's got better as we've grown up together is up to them I suppose!”
But the thing is, as we all near 30, societal pressure shifts, and singletons start being asked why they haven’t “found someone yet.”
Here’s how, for some people, dating changes throughout your twenties:
21: YOUNG AND FREE!
Woohoo, you’re an adult and can now, well, do basically all the same things you’ve been doing since you were 18. The dating pool is vast as many high-school sweethearts broke up during uni. Go do your thang.
22: Let's date
You’re a serious grown-up now (possibly even with a job - well, internship - and everything) so aren’t just going to snog someone behind a bike-shed, oh no. You’re going out for dates and drinking cocktails in swanky bars (and then crying into your bank statement afterwards).
23: Urgh, so over dating
You’re poor, you still live at home (which is totally killing your mojo) and quite frankly you ceebs with dating. You may be suffering from burnout. But, loads of your friends are in relationships that started on dating apps. Maybe one more swipe...
24: In a relationship
This is nice. You have someone with whom to hang out, go to the cinema, get a takeaway and have sexual exploits with on a regular basis.
25: Serious stuff
Your parents are getting excited, you’re considering moving in together and you start thinking this might just be the one. Should you get a dog? But. But… What if there’s someone better round the corner?
26: Single again
Many people end their long-term relationships in their mid-twenties when they realise that actually, this person isn’t who they want to spend the rest of their lives with, but if they end it now, they still have time to enjoy being single and find someone else to settle down with.
Oh bloody hell, your friends are starting to get engaged and married. And you’re over here getting drunk with a different Bumble date every week. But it’s cool, right? You’re only 27. You have pleeeenty of time.
28: What’s happening?
Babies. The babies have started. They may not be your close friends but your Facebook newsfeed is starting to clog up with pictures of the babies of your old schoolmates and people you met on that drama summer school when you were 16. The babies all look the same.
29: REALLY HAPPY OK
“No, auntie Susan, I won’t have a boy-/girlfriend joining us on Christmas Day, yet again, BUT I REALLY LIKE BEING SINGLE, OK!” The nagging is becoming unbearable.
30: Oh, sheesh
You’re 30. How the flippin’ hell did that happen? Sure, you have friends who are married with babies, and maybe you don’t, but that’s no bad thing.
Everyone lives their lives at their own pace, and there is literally no rush to settle down. Don’t marry someone just because they’re there when you’re the age that you think you should be settling down.
You have to kiss a lot of frogs to find your prince or princess, and if you don’t find them till you're way past your twenties, it doesn’t matter. If you do, super!
You do you and when the right person comes along, you’ll be ready.
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