Originally published on The Odyssey on 10/5/15.
When our parents (and their parents) were in college, they were socialized to pair off. Everybody knew a friend of a friend you would be perfect for. Parents would phone their friends to set up a dinner with their family, who just happened to have a son or daughter your age. Of course, this still goes on (think Rory Gilmore), but our culture has drastically changed when it comes to relationships, especially in college. Young adults are hooking up more, and settling down less.
According to TIME, 25 percent of millennials will not get married. Those who do get married are getting married later than previous generations. More women go to college now than in the 1950s, when the median age for marriage was just over 20. Now, that age has risen to 25 according to the U.S. Census Bureau. There are definite reasons for this change, such as more women attending college and focusing on careers, the desire for financial stability, and just not finding the right person.
Meg Jay, PhD, psychologist and author of “The Defining Decade” writes that the 20s are an “emotional sweet spot” for growth. Eighty percent of our life’s most important moments happen before we’re 35.
In her book, Jay writes, “Our 20s are the defining decade of adulthood. Eighty percent of life’s most defining moments take place by about age 35. Two-thirds of lifetime wage growth happens during the first ten years of a career. More than half of Americans are married or are dating or living with their future partner by age 30. Personality can change more during our twenties than at any other decade in life. Female fertility peaks at 28. The brain caps off its last major growth spurt. When it comes to adult development, 30 is not the new 20. Even if you do nothing, not making choices is a choice all the same. Don’t be defined by what you didn’t know or didn’t do.”
Having a serious relationship in college is amazing, and severely underrated. In your 20s, you will emotionally mature and grow the most. When you have a partner by our side during this time, you will grow together. You will learn together and support each other through life’s most important moments. College is not a breeze, and having a boyfriend or girlfriend with you can be the biggest support and source of motivation. A significant other will push you to be your best self and challenge you to not only exceed, but to try new things and have new experiences. Besides having a deep and meaningful connection with another similar human, you will always have something to do on your weekends, whether you go out and dance all night, or stay in, cook together, and snuggle all night.
This isn’t a call to action to get moving and go on hundreds of dates in the next few weeks. It’s a message to realize that your 20s are not a decade to just waste away, lounge, and put off figuring out what you want in life. Besides, who doesn’t love snuggles, anyway?