1. “Nice guys” aren’t just assholes on the internet who are mad at you because they couldn’t find a girlfriend. There really is such a thing as nice guys — we used to call them gentlemen — and sometimes we ignore them because we find them a little too “safe” and “boring.” We’re all going to waste a little time with the guy who makes us chase him, but if you’re smart, it won’t be the entire decade of your 20s. Nice guys are comfortable, but that’s a good thing.
2. “Nice girls” should also be a thing, and they used to be, and we called them ladies. And it’s not about the kind of clothes you wear or how many people you do or don’t sleep with, it’s about how you treat your relationships and how much respect you give and take. Life isn’t about being Carrie Bradshaw, and if you’re as selfish as she was, you’ll pretty much never find happiness.
3. Love ends sometimes. It’s not always because it was a bad relationship, or because one person didn’t deserve the other, sometimes it just goes wrong and there’s not much you can do. When I got divorced I wasn’t even 35 yet, and I felt like my whole world was coming to an end. But eventually I realized that we just weren’t good for each other, and I was lucky to get out as early as I did.
4. Hating exes feels good, but does nothing to help you.
5. The last thing you want to be is bitter. And trust me, you can be bitter at any age. I was bitter at 29 years old because I hadn’t gotten married and a lot of my friends had, then I was bitter at 35 because I was divorced and a lot of my friends were still married. Both are ridiculously young ages to be bitter, but no one could have told me that at the time. Bitterness is a fog that prevents us from helping ourselves.
6. When your friend gets married before you, don’t think that this means anything about your own love life. Let her be happy, because one day you’re going to want her to be happy for you, even if it isn’t about marriage. Supporting people when good things happen only makes life easier.
7. Divorce is never a good thing. It’s never easy. And no matter how angry you are at someone, never wish it on them. Because one day it might happen to you, and you’ll realize how much no one deserves to go through it.
8. You shouldn’t have to choose between your career and a family life, but the reality is that you might have to. Think long and hard about what you want most out of life, and think of as many pathways as possible to get there. I didn’t have kids, even though people told me I should, and I couldn’t be happier in my choice. But it was a choice.
9. It’s unfair that these burdens are often placed on women and not men, but that’s the world we’re living in today. We have to fight to make the world a better place for the next generation, but in your own life, make the system work to your advantage. Don’t waste too much time dreaming about a perfect scenario.
10. Don’t ever settle for someone because you think that it’s the “right” time to be married or in a long-term relationship. As you approach 30, you’ll notice a lot of people pairing up for these kinds of reasons, and you have to avoid making this mistake in your own life. Trust me, it’s better to be alone and happy than stuck in a commitment with the wrong person.
11. Travel has never been cheaper, and there’s no better time to do it than when you’re single. Go by yourself. Go with a girlfriend. Go with a group. Go somewhere, meet people, and expand your horizons.
12. Build strong bonds with your girlfriends, and maintain them. You’d be surprised how many relationships will come and go in the next decade or so of your life, but a good friendship can last forever if you work on it. And there’s nothing better than having someone by you as you approach 40 who knew you well when you were 20.
13. Don’t worry about your “number.” Most people exaggerate theirs one way or the other, and they don’t really matter anyway. If you’re with a good person, and getting your regular checkups, neither party will really care about the “number.” Just do what makes you happy.
14. At the same time, don’t feel like you have to have sex just to feel close to someone or get someone’s attention. Get a good vibrator and only sleep with people you really want to.
15. Don’t spend too much money on your wedding. Whatever it is you think you need to drop a ton of money on, you don’t really need it, and you’ll probably regret buying it a week after the wedding is over.
16. If you’re under 30 and in a relationship right now, and you’re not head over heels, get out. You are way too young to be wasting your time with someone who doesn’t make you really happy to be with them every day. There’s nothing sadder than watching 23-year-olds settle.
17. You’re going to make mistakes, and that’s fine. All that matters is that you treat yourself, and the people you let into your life, with respect and honesty. This goes both ways, and it’s a full-time job. But it’s a job that is so, so worth it, if you find the right person.