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Relationships in Young Adulthood

 In young adulthood many people find themselves dating, catching “the feels,” and ultimately ending up in their first serious relationship. Developing connections and intimacy is a big part of this stage of life. It can be so exciting to meet someone new and recognize the possibility that this may be someone who will be in your life for a long time. Relationships and love can be so beautiful, yet challenges often come with this territoryStriking a balance and making sure not to lose yourself definitely helps you retain your wellbeing. This blog will be about relationships in young adulthood: what to expect, antips for remaining grounded and healthy.

Intimacy in Young Adulthood

Intimacy doesn’t just mean sex, though that can certainly be a part of intimacy. Intimacy also means letting someone into your inner world by fostering an emotional connection. This can be exhilarating yet terrifying at the same time, and it takes practice (like a learned skill). In young adulthood, people are working to solidify who they are, what they stand for, where they want to go in life, and what kind of partner they are. At the same time, they are figuring out what type of relationship they want and want type of partner they like who may fit will with them. This journey through self-discovery can understandably entail a lot of change and flux.

how to find your fit as an adult
This period of life (emerging adulthood) is characterized by:
  • Identity exploration
  • Instability
  • Self-focus
  • Transition
  • Possibilities

Instability and self-focus aren’t bad. They simply mean that during this stage of life, there may be more turnover in relationships than in other stages, because emerging adults are in a unique stage of “becoming.” Going to college also presents a lot of possibilities for forming connections because there are a lot of people around the same age in the same place. Covid-19 obviously changes the stage a bit, so it may be helpful to “get good” at online dating.

Using dating apps find love online

Though finding partners online has become more commonplace, there is still the lingering stigma that seeking intimacy online means only seeking sex or only casual hookups. This doesn’t have to be true, but there are some things to keep in mind.

  • When it’s safe to do so (COVID-19), meet in public for at least the first meeting
  • Not everyone will be looking for the same things that you are. Be clear with what you want and be cautious to not assume they feel the same
  • Low self-esteem increases your likelihood of accepting unacceptable behavior
  • Be mindful about sharing your geographical location/personal information with people you don’t know 
Safety Steps when dating online

Catfishing is a real thing. Not everyone who makes a profile for online dating is deceptive, but be aware it’s all too easy to pretend to be someone you’re not. Being stingy with your personal information is also a good practice. It can be tempting to want to connect quickly to see if there’s chemistry, but phone calls and facetiming first is a great option (especially during a pandemic). With the ease of video messaging and unlimited long-distance calls make sure to have at least one “face to face” virtual meet up before you actually do an in person meet up. This can help to weed out the 65-year-old man pretending to be the 19-year-old girl. Meeting in public for at least the first meeting is a must for a large variety of safety reasons.

Always make sure you have a friend who knows who you are with and is going to call and touch base at some point during your meeting. Also, it wouldn’t hurt to turn on the “share your location” option and send it to that same dear friend. Hopefully it will be overkill and you have a funny story to tell your new partner down the line about how extra careful you were for your first few meetings. But it can also be lifesaving if happen to get a strange or creepy vibe part way through the date or if you don’t check in with your back up friend when you are supposed to and they can send the cavalry.

Feel good about you before trying to connect with someone else

One area to keep an eye on in any type of dating relationship is to make sure your self-esteem is in a good place where you won’t let loneliness lead you to accept bad behavior from others. There are plenty of fish in the sea, and if you don’t click with someone or you find out they are only looking for something casual when you want more, you may be wasting your time and energy trying to convince them to commit to you. It is best explained with the old adage about trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. Both of you may be amazing people, but it doesn’t always mean you are amazing together. If you don’t have anything in common, you don’t enjoy the same things, and you actally find yourself annoyed with them, then WALK AWAY. Just because they are cute or you don’t want to be single, you typically can’t make that peg fit and still be happy.

Taking Care of Yourself When you’re stepping into dating

Before opening the door to start a new relationship or connection, make sure to take some time to do a little self-analysis first. Both you and your future partner will be better for it. Notice your relationship patterns.

When starting to date, Do you:
  • Get attached quickly?
  • Commit to the first person who shows you attention?
  • Hate being single/Feel like you NEED a relationship to be happy?
  • Overlook red flags?
  • Cheat?
  • Explain away bad behavior of yourself/others?
  • Have sex then later regret it?
  • Get jealous easily?
  • Stay in relationships too long when you wish you would have ended them?

Take a quick self-inventory, because that’ll help you take better care of yourself in the future and work through some of the patterns that may not be serving you well. It can be all too alluring to go all in with a new love interest. There is nothing wrong with doing this if you are in a healthy place to do so. Essentially, don’t put all your eggs in one basket—don’t focus so heavily on dating or your relationship that you neglect other things that are important to you.

What else do you need to prioritize while dating:
  • Work
  • School
  • Friends
  • Fitness
  • Your mental health
  • Your creativity
  • Spirituality

The Brain in Love

There’s a reason why relationships/love can feel addictive. Feel-good chemicals are released in your brain when you receive loving attention that you want. This happens not just from sex, but also when you get a text from a love interest! A cool science fact is that the part of your brain that releases these feel-good chemicals is the same one that responds to heroin! Meaning that love really can be like a drug. This is why ghosting and breakups can feel so completely devastating; you are literally going through withdrawal!

It’s ok to compromise, feel sad, argue, etc. But make sure you are still striking a balance between your relationship and other parts of your life, because when your relationship becomes your life…what happens if it ends?

Ongoing Support

Relationships stir up emotions for everyone, regardless of their age, but emerging adults may have a lot more flux and turmoil surrounding their relationships. If you are an emerging adult that would like to process your relationship patterns, make an appointment with an Angelus therapist today. We can help you to notice some of the behaviors or thought patterns that may be keeping you stuck from showing up in relationships the way that you want to. Creating fun and authentic relationships greatly contributes to wellbeing, so it is worth the extra effort for some selfreflection to get where you’d like to be.