Dating can be tricky at any age, but dating in your 20s, in particular, can bring its fair share of highs and lows. After all, this is a point in many people’s lives when they experience freedom for the first time, as they’re beginning to navigate the world on their own.
With this comes all kinds of dating adventures and mishaps as those in their 20s learn about themselves and the people they want to date. Dating in your 20s for guys and girls can unlock happy, sad, loving, lonely, awkward, cringy, memorable, and hilarious dating encounters, meaning you’ll want to buckle up for the ride!
That said, no matter what, dating at this stage in your life should be a happy and positive experience. So, if you’re looking to find a partner at this age, follow our guide for all our best tips and tricks.
1. Learn to Love Yourself First
Dating in your 20s for guys and gals can feel like trekking through a minefield—there are a whole lot of heartbreaks and let downs that can do a number on your self-esteem.
That’s why our first piece of advice involves taking the time to love yourself. This means celebrating all of you—including your flaws, imperfections, and quirks—and realizing that no one can ever take away or replace the admiration you have for yourself. Once you love yourself wholeheartedly, you can open up to loving and letting someone love you in return.
2. Put Yourself Out There
There’s more to dating in your 20s than swiping left and right from the comfort of your couch. Yes, we understand online dating and social media platforms are great places to find matches your age, but don’t forget to look up from your phone and see the world around you. Maybe there’s a cute girl who orders coffee from you every morning. Or what about that guy who always says hello to you during your study sessions at the library?
In addition to opening your eyes and being more present, consider putting yourself in more positions where you’re likely to meet people. For instance, you could join a pick-up softball team in your community, attend your friend’s birthday party, or volunteer at your local animal shelter. When you’re out and about, doing things you enjoy, you just might find someone who shares your interests!
3. Enjoy the Journey
As much as you want to find a partner, don’t let that drive take over your entire life. You’re young, beautiful, and free, and you have plenty of time to settle down and find your match, so make sure you’re enjoying the journey.
Go on dates, have flings, experience new things, and meet new people! Dating in your 20s is your opportunity to explore and experiment so that your life experiences can shape the person you become and the person you ultimately want to end up with.
4. Don’t Ignore Your Friends’ and Relatives’ Advice
Your friends, family members, and loved ones know you inside and out, and they only want what’s best for you. So, if your best friend says he gets a funny feeling about the person you’re dating, or your sister tells you she’s worried your relationship is toxic, it’s a good idea to heed their warnings.
Instead of brushing off their advice or concerns, reflect on what they’ve said and try to decipher if there’s any truth to them. Try to see your situation from an outsider’s perspective or ask someone else if they’ve noticed anything similar. If you sense a nagging feeling in your gut, that’s your intuition kicking in, and you shouldn’t brush that off, either.
5. Remember Everyone is Still Learning
When it comes to dating in your 20s, you’ll soon discover that the dating pool is a mixed bag. Some people have been dating since the 6th grade, while others are still waiting on their first kiss.
Everyone is learning about themselves, determining who they want to date, and figuring out how to date, so giving everyone some leeway is essential. They may still be working out this whole dating thing, so they might not be ready for or even want what you want in a relationship.
Try not to get frustrated or expect everyone you date to be on the same page as you—it might just take some time for them to get caught up.
6. Reflect on What You Want
Dating in your 20s as a woman or man involves a lot of experimentation. For example, you might try dating someone with different sexual preferences or someone older who has a kid. Or, you might get involved with someone who lives across the country from you or speaks a different language than you! All of these different experiences and personalities can help you narrow down what you want in a person and a relationship.
Knowing the kind of character traits, values, and qualities you want in a partner can help you on your journey toward finding the one. Also, when you think about what kind of relationship you want, it can help you manifest the perfect partnership and date with intention. So, take some time to reflect on those you’ve dated in the past, and think about what you liked or didn’t like about those relationships. Was there something missing or something you would change?
7. Know that Heartbreak is Part of the Process
Yes, sometimes love hurts. Heartbreak is pretty much an inevitable part of dating in your 20s for guys, and girls, too. Maybe the person you’ve been crushing on doesn’t like you that way, or the person you thought you would marry just dumped you in a text. It probably hurts a lot, but that heartbreak is a sign that you loved and were loved in return—and that’s pretty darn special.
Once you can embrace the fact that with dating comes heartache, you can begin to love more fearlessly.
8. Learn When It’s Time to Walk Away
Learning when to walk away is a lesson that will serve you well in life, well beyond your 20s. If you’re in a relationship that is not serving you, it’s time to walk away. If you’re in a relationship out of convenience, it’s time to walk away. And if you’re in a relationship because you feel guilty about ending it, it’s time to walk away.
By no means are we saying walking away is easy. In fact, it can be a difficult and emotional process, but you owe it to yourself to be in a thriving partnership that feeds your heart and soul. You’re not doing anyone any favors by staying in a relationship that doesn’t feel right for you, so do the hard thing and focus on breaking free so that you can make room in your life for a more fulfilling relationship.
9. Realize It’s OK to Make Mistakes
Regardless of whether you’re dating in your 20s as a woman or a man, you’re going to make mistakes. Maybe you led someone on by mistake, kissed someone you didn’t really like at a party, ghosted your date, or dumped a good person for a lousy reason.
Hey, it happens! In fact, it’s supposed to happen, and it doesn’t make you a bad person. Your 20s are your time to work out all the kinks, make mistakes, and grow from those slip-ups. As long as you’re learning from your mistakes and actively trying not to repeat them, then you’re on the right track.
10. Don’t Compare Yourself to Others
Maybe your parents got married at 22, and you’re feeling the pressure to find a partner by the time you hit that age, too. Or perhaps your twin brother is getting married next month, while your most recent date was over a year ago.
It’s easy to feel like you have to compare yourself to others or hit imaginary milestones, but you must remember that you’re on your own unique path, going at your own unique pace. Just because all your friends are finding partners or getting engaged doesn’t mean you’re doomed to be single forever.
11. Demand the Respect You Deserve
No matter how much you want to find a partner or want a certain person to be the one, you should never settle for someone who doesn’t give you the respect you deserve. If you’re dating someone who yells at you, makes fun of you, puts you down, controls you, doesn’t accept “no” for an answer, or harms you in any way, you’re in an unhealthy and toxic relationship.
Remember, when you’re dating someone, they should bring you happiness and make your life better. If they’re not fulfilling your needs, you need to respect yourself enough to know when it’s time to end things for good.
12. Have Fun
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to find a partner in your 20s, but don’t forget to have fun along the way! Laugh, smile, and fall in and out of love. And if something doesn’t feel right or bring you joy—move on! Nothing is holding you back, so go out there and date to your heart’s content.