Your 20s are a time for living, loving, and learning. These are the years of your life when you’re free to do pretty much whatever you want, especially when it comes to dating. Now is your chance to try new things, make mistakes, and have fun whether you’re single and dating or in a committed relationship. While your 20s are the ideal time to explore your romantic options, there is a downside. The more flings you have, the greater the possibility of dealing with tough breakups in your 20s. Because as you match, meet, and mingle with cuties of all kinds, you’re bound to experience some heartache along the way.
The silver lining, of course, is that every instance of heartbreak makes you that much more resilient. Your 20s are all about learning valuable lessons, and your love life is no exception. To paraphrase Molly from Insecure, you gotta kiss a lot of frogs to get a good frog.
Just like people, breakups come in all shapes and sizes. It’s true that no two relationships are exactly alike, but couples tend to be predictable. If you’re actively dating in your 20s, you’re almost guaranteed to go through these seven kinds of breakups at some point.
1Your First Love
Whether it’s your high school sweetheart or your college crush, your first love is special. More often than not, though, your first love is not your only love. There will likely come a time in your early 20s where you have to let go of this person. Although it’s one of the toughest breakups you’ll ever have to endure, ending things with your first love will ultimately make you stronger.
2The Person You Weren’t "Officially" Dating
Not everyone is quick to fully commit to one person. At some point, you’ll probably have to break things off with someone who you weren’t officially dating, but who you’ve still been seeing quite frequently. You may not have clearly defined the relationship, but losing this person hurts all the same.
3The One Where The Timing Wasn’t Right
Bad timing is one of the hardest reasons to end a relationship. In most cases where the timing isn’t right, you still care for this person, and you’re only breaking up because you don’t want the relationship to suffer. It’s counterintuitive, sure, but sometimes it’s "for the best." A dramatic, angry breakup is often easier than this kind of amicable split, because resentment is easier to process than loneliness.
4The S.O. That Ghosted
Another product of the digital dating world is ghosting. It’s sad, but some people no longer feel the need to respectfully end a relationship with a conversation. Dealing with a ghost is rough, because you have no way of knowing for sure why this person disappeared. You can pose a million different questions, but you’ll likely never get an answer from the one person who could provide it.
5The Partner Who Wanted Different Things
When you’re in your 20s, it’s not uncommon to want vastly different things from your 20-something partner, even if you’re only a few years apart. Sometimes you can work through those differences and find a compromise, but other times, they’re dealbreakers. Breaking up because you want different things isn’t always a bad move. It’s more than OK to look for someone whose values, goals, and priorities are similar to yours.
6The On-Again, Off-Again Relationship
You know that ex all of your friends can’t stand? Yes, the one who you are aware is bad for you, but you keep going back to anyway? Eventually, one of you has got to put a stop to the madness. It’s inevitable that at some point, one or both of you will realize you’ve had enough. Breaking up with your on-again, off-again boyfriend or girlfriend for good won’t be easy, but it will provide you with a sense of relief.
7The Breakup You’ll Laugh About Later
Finally, in your 20s, you’re pretty much required to date at least one person who is so wrong for you, it’s almost comical. Maybe it’s someone who lives in your dorm in college, or a coworker you meet post-grad. Whoever they may be, you’ll definitely laugh about this breakup (and, honestly, the relationship) when you look back on it later.
Breakups suck, but they’re also inevitable. If it’s any consolation, try to remember that while you’re going through one or more of these kinds of splits, you’re far from alone.