There I was. Sitting at the library reading self-help books to improve my romantic life when I noticed three girls giggling behind one of the bookcases. They were gossiping about a boy, and one of them hit their friend saying “oh my god who do you have a crush on?”. Then the other friend said “I promise I won’t tell”. The girl with the schoolyard crush ran through the aisles trying to jokingly escape from her friends, and they all giggled running away. But then I realized, here I am. A 20 year old fresh and fabulous young adult reading books on how to open up intimately, and how to experience healing in relationships when suddenly I felt old; my youth was no longer mine. I remember gossiping with friends about crushes between classes and talking about first kisses and who was sleeping with who. It didn’t seem long ago, so when did things change? When did gossiping about boys turn into becoming emotionally unavailable and resorting to reading self-help books to learn about intimacy? Was 20 the new 45?
I’ve heard about men and women developing a poker face when dealing with the cards of intimacy after years of marriage, but I wasn’t married, I was young and single. A guy could barely get me to cum let alone have me say I do. Had I peaked emotionally? Had I been so emotionally slutty that nobody could make me emotionally climax anymore? I was so determined to connect with someone on an intimate level that I became intimately impotent.
It’s more common to be interested in an older man because he is more charismatic, wise, and financially stable in comparison to men in their 20’s, but did dating older men age us mentally? Was this an unspoken emotional STD everyone was too scared to address, and was I a carrier now? If so, was there a romantic panacea?
Whatever I had, I knew I wasn’t alone. Friends left and right are settling for relationships leading into rushed marriages; maybe from the looming cloud of fear of never finding the “perfect” version of a partner or the fear of just being single. We watch celebrities like Kylie Jenner have a baby at 20, Justin and Hailey Bieber get married at 21 and 24, and even watch the engagement of Ariana Grande, whom at 25 got engaged after less than a month of dating. Are more and more people in their 20’s settling down due to young love or by perpetuated fears set by the media, negligent parents, previous breakups, and low self-worth?
This wasn’t like trying to lose 10 pounds, no, this was much more difficult; I was on an emotional weight-loss program, and these self-help books were my cookbooks. But see, Physical weight is a lot easier to lose than emotional weight; physical weight you can see and develop a specific workout and diet plan. There is no diet plan for an emotionally unavailable heart. I got to the point where I questioned if I should just accept that somehow I entered a magical time machine that made me 20 going on 45 and transformed into the gay Jennifer Garner, but if I was Jennifer where was my Mark Ruffalo? I feel like I went from taking razzles to taking lithium in the blink of an eye.
So, I ask, is this the start of a new era? Is this the newfound roaring 20’s? As much as I am in love with the idea of finding my prince charming and living happily ever, the fear of choosing the wrong man is worse than not finding him at all. I may have intimacy issues, I may have a slight fear of the incessant uncertainty of my romantic life, and I may be emotionally over-weight, but that does not mean I cannot take time to look deep down inside and work on those issues for myself. Why was I even in a rush to lose this weight? It’s not like once I clear all my intimate flaws that suddenly prince charming will gallop on his horse to my window and take away into the sunset. I would rather take these years and grow as an individual so I may coexist with my future partner in an interdependent relationship rather than a codependent relationship; call me old fashioned, but I’d prefer to have my biggest decision in my 20’s be whether I want to order a gin and tonic or a cosmopolitan.
If you do decide to embrace this new era, go ahead, but don’t forget to invite me to your divorce party if things don’t work out. I love any reason for a new outfit and a cocktail.