Learn From My Crappy Personal History: 7 Relationship & Dating Mistakes I Made In My 20s

I spent much of my twenties locked in one simpering relationship after another. I don’t blame the guys I dated, but rather the choices I made, and I’m determined that somebody learn from — and avoid — my crappy decisions. Take a look at these seven tips — and please, feel free to add your own in the comments. 1. Don’t let your boyfriend determine what you do with your life. At 21, I was dumped by a boyfriend I thought (at the time) I was going to spend the rest of my life with. We had just come back from a two-month trip across Mexico. Jack had broken up with me on a mountain top in Zacatecas while a Mexican church group was singing Beatles songs in the background. It was all too perfect — and I was distraught. Like, “cry every day” distraught. Like “unable to hear his name” distraught. I came back and moaned to my friend Liz that I would never be able to do all of the things that I had planned to do with him — we had promised to travel the world together and write books. She looked at me and said, “What are you talking about? You can still do all of those things without him.” I didn’t believe her, not for a very long time, anyway. And because of that, I missed out on a lot of opportunities. But she was totally right.

2. Don’t use your boyfriend as an excuse NOT to do something you want to do. By 22, I had a different boyfriend, Dylan. Dylan and I had a tortuous, stupid relationship that should have lasted three months, but somehow was dragged out for 10. I applied to graduate school while we dated and was accepted to McGill University in Montreal. But I was scared. Even though my relationship with Dylan was many miles away from perfect, I used it as an excuse NOT to go. That wasn’t fair to him or to me. Five years later, I ended up going to grad school abroad–and this time, my boyfriend came with me.

3. Spend some time alone and with friends. I had boyfriends straight through my teens and early-20s. I wasn’t straight-up single until I was 28, and that was a rude awakening. I had grown really used to having another person with me all the time, feeding me with approval and affection, guiding me, giving me a reason to be. I now think it would have done me some good to have spent more of my formative years without a human appendage. Without the excuse or responsibility of a relationship to keep me locked into a place or an apartment or a way of being. Keep that in mind the next time you ponder a major life decision.

4. Don’t throw your emotional energy into someone who needs to be “fixed.” Your twenties are about figuring out who you are. It’s really easy to avoid that by dating a grown-up baby who needs constant care and attention. At 24, I dated a brilliant but unmotivated man for two years, and spent most of the relationship engrossed in how to get his life on track. Suddenly, my greatest goal was fixing my boyfriend. It was a convenient way to avoid moving forward or considering what I might want from life. Never again. No more man-babies.

5. Don’t ever let a guy make you feel bad about the things you want to do with your life. When I was 26, I had a regular DJ night at a club in Philadelphia. I also had a boyfriend who hated the club I DJ’d at and refused to attend. He was all too happy to remind me that the club — and the party and the kids who came to my party — were all a waste of time. That should have been enough for me to ditch him, but sadly, it wasn’t. It turned out to be the least of our relationship problems. Never date a guy who thinks the things you do are stupid.

6. Don’t confuse promiscuity with sexual confidence. Knowing your body and feeling confident during sex is not the same thing as having sex with a million different anonymous partners. Want proof? Skim Texts From Last Night.

7. Don’t waste your time trying to get losers to like you. I feel like I still have to remind myself of this now. I wish I could take back all the hours, days, months and years of my life I spent looking for a quick ego fix from a guy who was just not worth it. I spent so much time in my twenties searching for validation from dudes that were pretty subpar, without ever taking the time to figure out if I even liked them. Don’t forget this really important step in the dating and mating business — it’s not just about getting the approval and adoration of a guy, any guy, but actively deciding whether or not this guy is worthy of you, too.

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