(Closed) Spin off- how did you change in your early 20's?

posted 4 years ago in 20 Something
Post # 16
586 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: March 2017

akm57:  I’m 26 and have been dating my SO since I was 20 and he was 19. I absolutely think young relationships can last. In a great relationship, you and your SO will continue to grow, but will grow together. My SO and I were long-distance while we each studied abroad (at different times), graduated college, started our first jobs in one city, made big plans for our future careers, and moved halfway across the country for grad school. We’ve supported each other through unfortunate family stresses–death, divorce, mental illness–and through two surgeries. We figured out finances and how to save together, learned how to cook delicious things, and have developed new hobbies together. I would say we’ve also both become more empathetic, patient, thoughtful, and pragmatic. I do think it’s a valuable experience to be single in your early 20s, to make decisions and experience failures on your own, to really be independent–but I found my life partner fairly young so we’ve grown together.

At the same time, we haven’t felt the need to rush into marriage. We’ve been together over six years and we’re tentatively thinking fall 2017, a little after our 8 year anniversary. There are a lot of transitional times in life–graduating, starting a job, making a career change, going to grad school, moving, figuring out what your life goals are–in which there are a lot of variables that cause people to change and grow. We decided to focus on those things first, and I’m glad we did.

Do I think young marriages can work? Absolutely. If my SO and I married five years ago, I don’t think that would have changed much about our experience (but who knows, maybe it could have). Growing together while married seems pretty similar to growing together while cohabitating in a committed relationship, which is what we did. However, the majority of our friends who also started dating young have split up. Statistically, younger relationships are more likely to fail; as you grow, you’re more likely to grow apart than to grow together. I guess I just don’t really see the point of getting married young when you can grow, strengthen your relationship, and marry later when you’re sure that all the transitional phases in life haven’t caused you or your partner to change in a way that ruins your relationship.

Post # 17
704 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: June 2016

I was a hot mess in my early twenties. Thought I was grown up and ready for marriage, so glad those bfs never worked out because they still act like children lol. I’ve owned a home since I was 20. My dad passed when I was 17 and at 20 my mom had another back surgery so that’s when she started signing stuff over and also she had run out of money. So I got a job I hated and never finished college. I got myself into debt and ended up in the hospital because my job was basically killing me. I also went through a lot of bad relationships. Around 24 I started trying to clean up my life and didnt date. Met my Fiance at 25. This was a huge turning point for me. He is 2 years older but came from a much more stable background. He has taught me so much.

My advice is don’t focus on age as much as where you are in life. Do you have a job you love? Live on your own? Financially stable? Saving for a home and other big purchases in life? Basically making sure you are ready for marriage and the future.

Post # 18
245 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: May 2015

1. I went from young 20’s kind of in my own world/self absorbed to being much more aware, responsible, and thoughtful of others (probably over-corrected, actually).

2. Figured out what I really want in life and many of my idiosyncrasies, and over the years I began to feel OK with them. I am so much more comfortable with who I am now than I was in my early 20’s. It’s a blessing and a curse though. I don’t get along with everyone (not rude, just no connection). I am acutely aware when I am wasting my time with someone who’s wasting their own time (and usually full of crap) so I just excuse myself now rather than try to be polite and make nice.

3. I’m much better at planning because I know what I really want (maybe it’s better to say I can admit what I really want, I think I always kind of knew).

4. When it comes to relationships; I finally understand that I don’t have to settle. There are people who “have it all” in terms of personality and loving nature. I don’t make excuses for the shortcomings of others anymore. I did that a lot in my early 20’s (especially with my longtime boyfriend who was/is a good guy but just not the right fit for me long term, but I SO wanted him to be).

5. I figured out that along with all my sweet, kind, loving traits, I’m also strong-willed, outspoken, articulate, and sometimes domineering. Those aren’t traits everyone likes (especially in a woman) but I’m very lucky that I have a circle of amazing people who know exactly who I am and we get along great.

I think some people who get married before 25 will do just fine. But, I do think it’s better to be closer to 25 than 20. It’s just a time of a lot of growth. I think it also makes a difference if we’re talking about high school sweethearts. If you’ve never grown on your own, it’s just different. I think everyone needs a chance to get their footing on their own terms. Essentially growing up with someone shapes your perspectives and often intertwines them. As you get older and you begin to evolve separately (just a timing/ natural progression thing it seems) sometimes your priorities and desires change. No one’s fault, it’s just life and for some people their young love still works, but for others it just doesn’t. 


Post # 19
462 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: March 2016 - Miami

akm57:  I’m 30 and getting married in a few months. But I am very glad I didn’t get married in my early 20s.

The biggest thing is priorities and career. Things that were important at 22 aren’t the same things that are important to me now. And I’m much more confident and comofrtable in my own skin at this age. I’m secure financially, I do things because I want to do them or not do them instead of worrying about what other people think or pleasing people. Without going into a bunch of personal specifics, it’s just different. Think how much you’ve grown up since you were 17. I always say I still feel like I’m 22, until I hang out with 22 year olds 😉


Post # 20
1308 posts
Bumble bee

Darling Husband and I were together about 5 years before marriage (started dating him a little after 20, married at 26, he 22-28).  I am very, very glad we waited.

First of all, I firmly believe in living alone for a few years (completely alone) before committing.  I think living on your own teaches you a whole lot about what you are capable of.  It is a confidence booster in a way I cannot describe.  At 21 I had my first job out of college.  I moved out of state alone, to a state where I knew NOBODY, and saw my Darling Husband maybe once a month.  I cried for a few weeks, but my confidence just skyrocketed after the first 6 months.  I learned I was capable of being completely independent, making new friends alone, etc.  I had to find my own hobbies and do a lot on my own.  

Anyway, in terms of morals/beliefs, I changed a lot in my 20’s.  Fresh out of college, I thought I would NEVER want kids, and if I did, I sure as heck wouldn’t want to be a Stay-At-Home Mom.  I was very much on the “I can do it all myself!” bandwagon, and almost saw getting married and having kids as a weakness.

Well, into my mid 20’s, I started seeing Darling Husband a little differently.  Our distance relationship went over 3 years.  In that time, I lost my very young stepmother (46, young for her type of cancer) in a short span of time.  Her death awakened me in a lot of ways.  She made me realize that although I am replaceable in my career, I will never be replaceable to my family.  She told me she didn’t ever plan on dying at 46, but she doesn’t regret one moment her two kids and working part time when they were older to always be around for them and for my father.  She taught me that “things are just things” and it can all be replaced.

Now, at 26, I am going back to school to be a nurse so I can have a decent career that will allow part time choices much easier after children.  I want to be a Stay-At-Home Mom, because I met my husband and learned what a great man he was.  I now understand how it is to be able to rely on someone, and be comfortable doing so.  I’m glad we waited, because if my Darling Husband told me 5 years ago he would never want a SAHW/M, I probably would have been fine with marrying him.  Over the years, my tune changed in terms of how I want to raise our children (his stayed the same, which is supporting my choice to not work).  

I also learned that it’s OK to not want to move up the corporate ladder.  The men I chose at 20 are different than the man I would choose now (if I wasn’t married).  To me, certain qualities are much more important than others.  I would never marry a man who worked 80 hours a week, unless of course we had to do so to feed our family.  5 years ago, I would have found this quality to be something I admired.  

I am not knocking anyone who chooses the complete opposite of me By The Way, nor am I saying you shouldn’t work a lot in your career.  I just don’t have ANY passion for my career, even though I’ll be making far less when I’m done with nursing school.  The money was cool for like a year until I realized I didn’t need it.  

I think when you’re in your early 20’s, all that is “real” to you is the idea of a high power career, making a bunch of money, not needing a man, being a supermom, getting 5 masters degrees, etc etc.  Of course this can vary in your circle, but you just don’t have a lot of exposure to the outside world in your early 20’s.

For what it’s worth, I have been financially supporting myself since 16.  I know there are a lot of “old souls” out there like me, but my early 20’s were still a growing experience.  This is why I don’t understand YOUNG marriages. I would have said YES to my Darling Husband at 20, and honestly we would likely still be together, but I’m glad we didn’t.  We both changed and not being married allowed us to grow in this important time.  

Post # 21
385 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: February 2015

I’m only 25 (almost 26), but I can say for sure that I’ve changed tremendously since I was 20. When I was 20, I didn’t have responsibilites, I was taking a few college classess but had no real direction, and my social circle was pretty wild. Sometimes I look back and wonder how I survived some of the stupid things I did. 

Now, at 25, I’m working as an RN, married to a teacher, and living in the suburbs with a white picket fence (actually, ours is wrought iron, but you get the idea). We’re also trying to conceive. It truly feels like I’ve skyrocketed from childhood to adulthood in just a few short years.

Post # 22
901 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: August 2017

I am still very young, only 25 but holy shitite. I am a RADICALLY different person from when I was, say, like 19. In the years between like 18 and now at 25, I have…switched religions; moved out of my parents house; had my first “real” jobs; estranged myself from family members; had my first real relationship; ended lifelong friendships; made new, radically different friends….

All of these things…in combination with just TIME and trying new and different things….has changed me into a completely different person. And I don’t think my experience is that different from most people. 

I think the main concern when people say “You’re too young to get married!” is that most people do radically change throughout their twenties and by the time they are in their late twenties/early thirties, that is pretty much the person you are going to be throughout the rest of your life. There is a little bit of a gamble getting married early because you and your spouse might change into different people, people who you don’t want to be with at all.

For my circle of friends and family, I of course know both people who marraied young, and are still together, or have now divorced. I have one friend get married at 18, 6 years later they are still going strong. I have a friend who got married at 19….they initially got married because they shared the same strong faith, but then he actually became an atheist and for her, that was unforgivable, so they’re going through a divorce. 

It really just depends.

Post # 23
2348 posts
Buzzing bee

akm57:  I’m 28. Darling Husband and I have been together since I was 21 but we didn’t get married until this year and I’m glad we didn’t do it earlier. We have both changed some, and luckily we’ve changed in the same direction, but I’d say we’re more the exception to the rule than anything. 

While dating we were long distance for 2 years because he wanted to go back to school in MA and get in state tuition and I wanted to follow my dream of living in NYC. If we were married at that point one of us would have had to make a huge compromise. Instead we both got to follow our dreams even though we did have to do the long distance thing. I got the experience of living with roommates and being a young professional on my own. I wouldn’t have ever experienced that otherwise because I was so young when we met.  

When Darling Husband and I met he was a barista and I was a waitress. Our idea of a good night was bar hopping until 4:00 am and having crazy parties. He had no plans to ever go to college. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and wasn’t even thinking about marriage. He did decide to go back to school (for math of all things), and I ended up working in software for a few years before diving into freelance writing full time. He quit drinking completely and my partying got way dialed back compared to my early 20s.

We basically both just grew up and it turns out we both want the same things and the same type of life, but none of our other friends are still with their significant others from that age. Some people change their minds on very major things like where they want to live, whether they want kids, and what type of lifestyle they envision. I’ve seen friends go from being deeply religious to being totally atheist. Some of my friends who were totally “live cheap and be an artist” are now raking in big bucks at major corporations because they realized that they wanted a more luxurious life. 

If I had stayed in the party zone, or he decided he wanted kids, or he never wanted marriage, or I decided to move to Spain (that was a job possibility at one point), things would have been very different. I guess I just feel like if it’s forever what’s the rush of a couple years. I know I won’t be one of those ladies who wonders what if or feels trapped in the future and to me that’s worth waiting a while to get married. I definitely wasn’t ready earlier. 


  • This reply was modified 3 years, 11 months ago by  swonderful.
Post # 24
1888 posts
Buzzing bee

I changed so much between 22 and 27, they were light years away from each other, even though I’ve been dating the same guy all along. I was just a half-step above a teenager at 22, and was a fully self-sufficient, independent adult at 27. That said, I don’t know if anything I say will be relevant to you, because the difference between me and you is that I knew I didn’t want to get married until I was close to 30, and I’m happy to be tying the knot at 29.

I really valued those years of dating my SO but not yet being utterly entwined in each other’s families and finances. I think there is something powerful about being able to leave but choosing to stay, rather than having your hand forced by a hasty legal commitment. That flexibility can make you stronger as a couple, like a branch that bends while a more rigid one breaks. I learned a lot about how I deal with money and what kind of life makes me happy. That sounds simple, but I believe it’s responsible for us being able to build a life together: realizing how deep our shared values go, how we spend & earn money, how compatible our chosen careers are, where we want to live, what we want life to look like when we’re older, etc.

Mainly, I didn’t feel the need to take the leap and *hope* that we grew together; I wanted to wait and see if we did that over the course of our twenties. Of course, we had that luxury not being military, no green card situations, etc.

Post # 25
400 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: March 2016

I graduated from college with a fairly useless degree, moved to a city I’d always dreamed of, made and continue to build some incredible friendships with women, got into health and fitness, worked on my cooking skills, and became more social. At 25, I’m broke but getting my career started, I’m healthy, and I’ve grown up a lot emotionally. I still feel like I’m getting married really young, but I wouldn’t change anything. I was a hot mess at 22, but at 25, I’m living the life of my dreams. I’ve learned a lot about what a healthy support system looks like, and that friends are more important than money.

Post # 26
2579 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: July 2015

akm57:  Hey, I don’t think many of us would say ‘it’ll never work out – worst mistake ever!’. As an individual you’ll grow and change throughout the various stages of life. Girl, woman, girlfriend, wife, mother and so on. Ideally you’ll grow with your partner, many do. But sometimes that doesn’t happen and that is a fact of life. I feel that under 25 is just a particularly big phase, especially for women (I guess just because we tend to mature more quickly).

I purposefully waited until I was over 25 before I got engaged married because I’d seen the change in so many others. I also didn’t feel I was quite complete yet, though I’ve always been very mature for my age. I may still have married the wrong person – it isn’t a magic formula or anything.

I just learned why I am who I am. I’ve always had strong convictions and a particular temperament but somehow I figured out how it all slotted into place.  Rather than thinking I respond in a certain way because that’s what my Mum taught me, or that’s what my Dad would do, I found out that actually it was definitely because of who I grew to be. When you’re tested you find out what you’re made of. That generally can only happen throughout these phases. It helps to have a few years under your belt of living alone (without family), having a relationship and holding down a job. Those things definitely test you. Plus your friendship circle changes and people you thought you’d never be without get replaced by new and different people. These new people offer you different views you never even thought to consider and perhaps you grow some more, if you’re lucky. I think it’s just another phase of realising how little you really know about yourself and the world around you. ‘The more I learn, the more I realise I don’t know’! But that’s okay, because at least you’ve got a few more tools to work with. Ultimately, I think I’ll pretty much always blunder through life.

Post # 27
90 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: August 2013

Everyone has great insight! I can definitely say I am pretty much a completely different person, now at 28, than I was at 21 or 22. I will echo what someone said eaflier…I think it is drastically important to live on your own, have your own job, move out of your parents house, be financially independent, etc. before you get married. I don’t think age is as relevant as experience or lack of experience. I graduated college on a Saturday and started my “real job” in my field on the following Monday. I had my own little one bedroom apartment and made a terribly low salary. But I did it myself. This was huge in building my confidence. I had gained my independence and had no interest in even dating. Shortly after, I met my now husband. neither of us were really in a good place when we first Met. Although I was independent I was still making poor decisions and not living a very healthy life. Needless to say, he moved away after we had been together a year. I thought our relationship would fizzle out- but it didn’t. We did the long distance thing and he showed me that he was responsible and got his shit together too. i think that time apart logistically was huge for us. After about a year long distance I made a huge- life changing decision- changed career paths and moved to be with him. we were in a town where neither of us knew anyone- so we had to rely on each other. It was awesome and exciting to be growing together and not having any other influences on our relationship. We lived together a year before we got engaged, moved back to where we met a month before our wedding and have moved again since! We have grown so much. Literally we are both so different than when we first met. the key is that we both helped and challenged each other to become better, stronger people and have always supported each other-and we had proven to ourselves prior to being together that we could be independent and we were okay alone. 

Post # 28
1326 posts
Bumble bee

I have bipolar 1 disorder and was literally psychotic for about 6 months of the year in my teens and early twenties. 

Bad times. 

Post # 29
177 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: May 2016

I really don’t like the person I was, but that does not mean you will feel that way! In my teens and early 20s, I was very selfish, self absorbed, and overreactive. I went into lots of debt going to school because I didn’t know what else to do with myself. I did not take care of my health and I dated abusive guys.

I grew up in a beautiful home, but emotional/mental health issues run in my family so I was surrounded by some ugly behaviors that negatively impacted by ability to cope and connect with others. At 28, I feel like I am finally growing into myself. I quit a career I hated, transitioned to a simple little job that makes me happy, and I am taking active steps to be more helpful of others around me. My fiancé helps me become the best version of myself. in fact, maybe if I HAD met him in my early 20s i would have avoided a lot of the problems I had in my younger days.

everyone is different and follow their own path. I was not a mature woman in my early 20’s and in some aspects I still have a lot of growing up to do. It sounds like you have a good head on your shoulders and know what you want. Yes, you will still change. Your ideas, your view of yourself, your understanding of the world..these things will alter as you grow further into adulthood but hopefully your partner will continue to be supportive of you and love you for the wonderful person you are!

Post # 30
3303 posts
Sugar bee

I’ll try to do a year by year run down for you, but my 20’s are such a blur for me!

20 – Immature, in a relationship that was heading down hill (had been together 2 years at this point). I don’t know why I stayed in that relationship so long, I think I was afraid of being alone – Some stupid fear of being old and dying alone (I was 20 for fucks sake LOL). Earlier on in the relationship I was ‘sure he was the one’, in hindsight I literally had NO IDEA what I really wanted/needed in a life partner… Though I was 100% positive I knew what I wanted at the time. Nope.

21 – Broke up with my boyfriend, realised I didn’t need anyone else but me to make me happy

22 – Partied a lot because I was single – Had a great time. Was probably a little out of control…

23 – The worst year of my life, I nearly died in January, stopped partying completely, put my head down and my ass up and finished my traineeship, quit my awful job, had a mental break down, met a soon-to-be abusive partner. Learned how much my family and close friends meant to me. Did a  lot of growing up since I had a lot of medical issues to work through. Learned a lot about how a romantic partnership SHOULDN’T BE. I also moved away from the area where I grew up for good. Became 100% independent.

I changed SO MUCH this year that I removed a LOT of people from my life who I realised did not have my best interests at heart, people who were not adding anything positive to my life. I learned to put myself first, I am #1. I stopped giving a fuck about how other people perceived me.

24 – I feel like this was the year of new beginnings, I got into uni and started studying something meaninful to me. I met my now Fiance, I was SO HAPPY because I was finally getting my shit together. I felt like everything was falling into place.

25 – Universtiy started to completely change the way I viewed the world and people’s actions, I started to become very critical and WAY more opinionated. At this stage I also found myself moving away from materialistic purchases and would choose experiences over them any day. I realised that I didn’t want to live in the city, I wanted to live in the country (which could have been a huge issue if I wasn’t with the right guy – thankfully my Fiance has the same dream).

I feel like I figured out what was most important to me in life around this time.

26 – I think this was the year I first went overseas with my SO, it really opened my eyes and mind to different cultures, ways of life and made me really grateful for the life we have here.

27 – Nothing noteworthy

28 – Travelled overseas some more

29 – Nothing noteworthy. Got engaged.


I guess most of the significant changes for me happened between 20 and 25. Getting married < 25 might work for some, but not everyone. If I had of married my boyfriend at 21 we would for sure be divorced by now. If I had of married my boyfriend at 24 we would 200% be divorced right now. I feel like we need those years between 18-25 to learn who we are as independent adults, we need those long term boyfriends to really figure out what we do and don’t want in our future life partners.

Thinking about my first boyfriend now – He is someone I would NOT date now (at 29), and I am probably someone HE wouldn’t date now either!!!!! lol We are WAAAAAAAAAAAAY too different.

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