Young Monogamy Has Pitfalls: Stay Single In Your 20’s

[Image credit: Daniel Zedda]

I used to tell myself it’s okay to be single in my twenties. But the thing is, I never really believed that; this flimsy, self-assuring process of mine was just a lame way to fill a void that loneliness couldn’t. I’d watch my best friends get wined and dined, then go on vacations with their boyfriends. I’d cringe with envy. For the first time, though, I’m beginning not only to understand, but also to accept the weight of my incantation.

Monogamy is a beautiful thing – when you’re with the right person. But is there such a thing as being too young to be monogamous?

“Young monogamy:” the terminology is almost paradoxical. Are we really supposed to be able to choose a partner intended to sustain decades when we still don’t know how to mow a lawn? Cook a proper, three-course meal? Do our taxes? (I dunno about you, but I get a short Indian man to do my taxes for me. Thanks, Ashok).

Young monogamy can breed careless prioritization. I witnessed a good friend of mine follow her boyfriend across the country because his job depended on it. They ended up breaking up not too long after that, and she realized she had only further stalled her professional dreams in the name of love – or a version of it, anyway.

“Don’t be with someone until you’ve figured yourself out,” she said to me over the phone, through bouts of tears.
“But do we ever have ourselves fully ‘figured out’?” I fired back, both smug and confused.

Though the entire course of our lives is an ongoing self-discovery process, there’s something to be noted: the period between 18-30 is the period during which we change the most. Maturation occurs at an exponential rate up until 30, and after 30, it becomes more linear. Whom you want at 24 might not be whom you’ll want at 29; those qualities you hold in reverence at 23 are not what you’d extol in a partner at 28.

And people, let’s just say, thank god I didn’t follow the advice of 21-year-old Sheena. If I had, I’d still be chasing around blond-haired, blue-eyed bad boys who charm with British accents and carry around guitars. Now, I’m only chasing around blond-haired, blue-eyed bad boys – hold the foreign accent and guitar. See how much I’ve matured already? (Wink, wink).

Kanye said: “Love is cursed by monogamy.” Eh, young love, anyway. The truth is, my skepticism of monogamy as a 20-something has created an altogether aversion to it, for the following reasons: I don’t want to be a 20-something with another 20-something who has a wandering eye because he’s youthfully curious, or whose life ambitions aren’t yet figured out, or who may think he might just pick up and move one day because his calling is in another country.

We have our entire lives to indulge in stability and comfort. In security and familiarity. We have our entire lives to come home to the same person every day; to have sex with the same person until we’re too tired to create bodily friction. Youth is beautiful, and the beauty lies in the restlessness: whether it be a panging to see the unseen nooks and crannies of the world, or a primal desire to bed the beautiful woman speaking Thai in your ear on a night out in Manhattan’s SoHo District.

Most people will say I just haven’t met the right person yet. They’re half-right. Sometimes, you meet the right person at the wrong time. I want monogamy, but changes are always on the horizon in the life of a 20-something. You can’t change the pace of change.

When I meet my man, I want him to have lived fast; it’s the art of having lived a well-traveled youth that makes a man. I want him here, with me, fully present. Because if he isn’t giving me his all, he isn’t giving me anything.



6 thoughts on “Young Monogamy Has Pitfalls: Stay Single In Your 20’s

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  1. Always on point Sheena!
    I want to confirm what you wrote by telling my story.
    Got with a boy when I was 18. We were together for 6 years. I struggled through trials to break up with him. He wouldn’t understand. This made me stay with him a couple of extra years than what I should have.
    We finally broke up and I jumped into another relationship straigt after that.
    We’ve been together for 5 years but I am less and less happy every single day just because I’ve changed so much since we first got together.
    And yet again I’m at that situation where we’ve been togeher for so long and I’ve tried to explain (by not being rude and brutal) that I’m not happy and again he’s not having it.
    It’s horrible and it just makes me think I’ve been making wrong decisions my whole life and I’d rather be single than having to go through something like this again.

  2. This article resonated very strongly with me. I’m in a relationship with my girlfriend for 16 years by now. We are both each others first love. But the older i get the more i realise how much you sarifice if you are in a relationship. The career opportunities you skipped because you had to cansider your partner, the epic nights out, the social skills you didn’t acquire because you can’t go out and socialise like a single can etc.

    However i’m determined to break up with her soon, i just fear that she will be devastated.

  3. I thought this was spot on. I’m 28 and just deciding to go to law school. I’ve always had a boyfriend and while I’ve still travelled and done many cool things– lately i’ve been realizing that the cool things I do and look back on have been nothing with one of my many serious boyfriends. I never wanted to get married or certainly marry any of the guys I was with and I just keep wondering– why would I waste so much of my time? I always found excuses for what one did for me or brought to my life that outweighed other aspects– but now as I’m getting closer to 30 and am again in a serious relationship– life is to short to be with anyone who doesn’t spark complete joy in your life.

  4. Hi Sheena, I just finished reading your article and I’m rendered speechless. In this paragraph, “I don’t want to be a 20-something with another 20-something who has a wandering eye because he’s youthfully curious, or whose life ambitions aren’t yet figured out, or who may think he might just pick up and move one day because his calling is in another country” ….My boyfriend is a mirrored image of what you wrote. We started dating two years ago and he also lives on the upper east side. Two weeks ago, he basically got up and left to another country without saying a word to me. I may sound crazy or insane but could this guy be the same person? I apologize in advance if I’m being too forward.

  5. Monogamy with the wrong person can be a pitfall when the guy turns out to be wrong for you. All the years spent with that person can feel like a waste when one could’ve spent it doing other more productive things like meet other people, outside of the cocoon of the relationship.

  6. I love your articles!! I am so thankful to have run into your blog. I am 24 and and trying to figure out love… I can resonate with your words so deeply. Thank you!!

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