The Pressure To Date In Your 20s

In society today it’s almost as if being in your 20's comes with the pressure to be dating and that any free time you have should be spent swiping right in search of finding 'the one'.

Words by Naomi Purvis

It feels like entering your 20's should also come with a disclosure that people start to assume it’s perfectly acceptable to ask that dreaded question: are you dating?  Personally, I strongly dislike this.  It’s the beginning of a bottomless pit of scrutinising questions regarding your intentions and when you’re going to 'find someone nice to settle down with'.  In society today it’s almost as if being in your 20's comes with the pressure to be dating and that any free time you have should be spent swiping right in search of finding 'the one'.  

 I am that one single friend.  I bet you have one, you know the one who tells everyone she's fine when really, she’s desperately waiting for the love of her life.  Here's a plot twist for you, what if she really was fine?  Shocked, aren't you?  Surely a girl in her 20's can't be ok with being single?  It's a funny concept really, society paints this picture of being single in your 20's as some soul-destroying quest to find happiness which can only be achieved once you've found your significant other.   To me it’s anything but that.  I see my 20’s as a time to grow and develop myself as a person, to travel and explore the world and really make the most of still being so young.

 Now let’s be clear, I’m not here to sit and shame those of you who find yourself in happy, healthy relationships. I’m here to provide some comfort to those of us who aren’t and are happy about it.  I’m surrounded by friends who have been in long term relationships since high school and really, it’s admirable, however the idea that this should be the ideal girls strive towards is not ok. Growing up with Disney princesses and teenage rom coms that fill us with the false belief that our life will be a bit awful until we fall in love, why should we succumb to a life of misery, believing that it is only through love that we will be truly happy?

Growing up with Disney princesses and teenage rom coms that fill us with the false belief that our life will be a bit awful until we fall in love, why should we succumb to a life of misery, believing that it is only through love that we will be truly happy?

 Then there’s the other issue with love in your 20’s that is actually finding someone.  We have too little and too much choice at the same time.  The age of dating apps makes it almost seem too accessible, yet we coincidently feel as if we’re appearing too keen if we swipe too often. It almost feels like there’s an underlying societal pressure to be in the game, but why?  On a personal level, a lot of my peers are already in relationships but when I look at the women I admire some are well into their 30’s and still ‘alone’.  

Recently I’ve learnt that there is in fact a great difference between being ‘alone’ and being ‘lonely.  You can be incredibly happy and be alone, you can be successful and be alone, you can have lots of friends and be alone, but you don’t have to be lonely.  By being ‘alone’ you allow yourself so much freedom and so much opportunity to be anything but lonely.  It’s liberating and fulfilling and certainly not something that should be portrayed negatively. 

I want to look back at my 20’s with joy and subtle embarrassment but also with the knowledge that I did everything I wanted to without seeking validation from others.  I’m concentrating on myself, having experiences and perhaps one day dating will be something I feel differently towards.   

So, if you find yourself aimlessly swiping or going on dates you don’t want to be on just because you feel that’s what you’re supposed to be doing, then stop. Concentrate on doing the things that make you happy and believe that if someone is meant to come into your life they will.


Words by Naomi Purvis