Being in a serious relationship when you’re young is not easy. It’s not easy to become so deeply involved in another person’s life when you’re just beginning to figure out your own. Relationships look totally different through the impressionable and naïve lens of your youth. When you’re young and in love, you feel like you’ve got it all figured out. You’ve got this love thing down pat; your life will intertwine seamlessly with your partner’s, and your future together will pan out exactly how you imagined. But when you grow up a little and the first flames of your love start to smolder, it’s as if a fog is being lifted and you can see things for what they really are. It’s as if you finally come down to Earth and have to get your bearings for the first time.
And at first, it can be hard to find your footing. You might feel wobbly and unsure of yourself, teetering in multiple directions at once. A part of you wants to retreat into the safety of your relationship because it’s familiar and comforting. Another part of you wants to hit the ground running, explore the world and its people and try on different versions of yourself. Your early and mid-twenties are a crazy and unstable time. It can be complicated to enter that time in a relationship that feels more serious than you’re ready for.
The first way to tell if your relationship is worth staying in through your twenties is if you’re certain that you’re both growing in a similar direction and at a similar pace. Whether you’re both in hustle and grind mode or you both want to fly around the world and fund your travels however you can, it’s important to feel like you’re seeing eye to eye. That’s not to say that you should always and forever be on the same page. But, at a time when you’re exploring life’s possibilities and creating a real independent existence, you should be able to relate to each other’s definition of what that looks like.
When you close your eyes, do you see yourself—and I mean really see yourself—in your partner’s future? Not just the dreamy version of the future that you created when you first started dating. I’m talking about the real, non-filtered, non-glamorous future. When life gets a little less eventful, when the financial stress really tightens its grip, when it’s just the two of you against the world. Do you still look forward to that future? Serious relationships require you to answer serious questions sometimes, and you’ve got to be honest with yourself.
Your relationship is worth staying in if you’re able to cultivate a rich, fulfilling, and well-rounded life outside of it. If your partner encourages you to reach higher and chase your wildest dreams, if they love to see you bloom and are proud of you as you thrive, you know they understand the value of this. And in return, you’re equally as thrilled to watch them evolve and do all the things you know they’ve always wanted to do.
A relationship that’s ready for the long-haul is a bond that transcends words, gestures, and displays. It doesn’t need to prove itself to anyone and it doesn’t need to try extra hard to impress. Through all the ups and downs and less-than-perfect moments, it just feels right. And if yours feels right, why overcomplicate?