The Love Diaries: Chapter One ’17


About a year and a half ago I did a three part series on The Twenties Club called ‘The Love Diaries’. It’s a corny name I know, and perhaps a little idealistic, but the contents of the series were very much rooted in reality.

The idea behind The Love Diaries was to ask a large group of girls, from all different backgrounds, to paint an honest picture of what love, loss, heartbreak, sex and dating looked like as a twenty-something in 2016. That was the goal.

It went on to be the most read series I’ve ever done and I still hear from so many of you today who have gone back to read it again and still resonate with the stories and anecdotes those girls shared.

So now it’s time for round two. The questions are phrased a little differently but the topics are still the same and, as always, you guys pulled through big time. You emailed, messaged, and DM’d with confessions that were honest, raw, sometimes funny and even a little sad.

Nothing printed below has been romanticised.

This is just life, as it happened.

Chapter One: Expectations & Reality Of Dating In Your 20s

“I wonder if guys are more intimidated to ask someone out these days because they know everything gets dissected and analysed almost immediately through social media. We’re all so hyper-connected it’s impossible to have a singular moment between two people. A guy knows there is a 90% chance his date will post a photo of their meal/restaurant/movie theatre on Instagram and within minutes all of his friends and all of her friends will know they’re on a date and suddenly you go from having an intimate connection with one person to being a commodity that is being judged – consciously or subconsciously – by a wider group of people.”

“I just thought there would be more dating. Period.”

“I behave really differently on dates depending on what mood I’m in. Not in a bipolar way, just that sometimes I’m all about putting my best foot forward, looking sexy, acting feminine and really turning it up to eleven. And then some weeks I’m more of the mindset that if this person wants to date me then it’s probably a good idea that he sees my flaws from the outset so that he knows what he’s in for? On those weeks I won’t worry too much about a pimple on my forehead or wearing the shortest dress if I’d rather wear jeans. I’ll be more transparent with how I’m feeling, laugh loudly and ask questions. Sometimes I think it makes me more attractive because I’m more three-dimensional.”

“Is it just me or do people not really “date” anymore? It feels like we go from having feelings to being in a relationship and completely miss out on the half-way stuff where you date a bunch of people, make some connections, create moments, get hurt, pick yourself back up, and either learn something about the other person or learn something about yourself. There’s less emotional growth in our twenties in 2017 because there’s less dating.”

“Expectation: Jets off to Paris for a dreamy vacation with bae.

Reality: Guys are surprisingly tight with their money…

“I find dating so awkward. I would much rather informally meet a guy with a group of my friends and a group of his friends and if we hit off then we can just peel off together later in the night. To me, that is a far more relaxing experience than sitting across the table from someone who is only giving you one-word answers, can’t seem to hold eye contact and looks like he would rather be playing bingo at his grandmother’s retirement village than sharing a pizza with me. Can I get an AMEN?”

“I thought my twenties would be full of dating and flirting! I thought I’d have the occasional beau and the odd heartbreak before eventually settling down at age 26. The reality is that I’ve been in a steady relationship for four years now, we live together with our Burmese kitten and act like an old married couple. In fact, my boyfriend just texted me with pure excitement because he found out our flatmate won’t be home tonight which means we can cook spaghetti, drink red wine and watch movies.”

“Expectation: A series of mind-blowing sexual encounters before meeting a kind and handsome man who is dying to marry me and pay a disproportionate amount of our house deposit so I can continue buying $40 lipsticks. 

Reality: A series of mostly mediocre sexual encounters before meeting a kind and handsome man who – despite graduating six years ago – seems very content with living a ‘university lifestyle’ in an untidy flat with no inclination to make an appointment with Naveya & Sloane Jewellers.”

“In short, I thought dating was something that would simply happen to me – regardless of introversion or social awkwardness – and not something I would have to conquer my fears about in order to make happen. I’ve spent the majority of my twenties single and wondering why everyone was dating, or in relationships, and it took me a decade of singledom and a lot of bravery to finally put myself into situations that might lead to dating. Despite how challenging or exhausting I found it.”

“I get so nervous before meeting a guy for a date that I sometimes feel like I’m going to vomit…or have a different kind of bodily function… I’m also usually too nervous to eat anything which makes a cheap drunk and therefore a cheap date. So maybe I’m more of a catch than I thought I was?”

“I was once set up on a blind date and we didn’t know each other at all and about half way through our dinner he started talking about his Contiki and one of the places he went to in South America and I said, “Oh yeah I saw that! The river-rafting looked so fun!!”… Oh my god. I essentially told him I’d been stalking him on social media and had also scrolled all the way back to March 2016 on his Facebook page. I should have just called an Uber at that point.”

“No one tells you how awkward dating is. No one tells you it’s okay to decide not to date and instead enjoy your own company for a little while. And no one told me that when it finally works out and you go on your first date you’ll find yourself eating Vietnamese food with a funny boy in Shoreditch and it will be completely magical.”

“When I was 22 I broke up with the guy I’d been dating since I was 15 and I was terrified at the prospect of dating, Tinder, and one-night-stands since I’d spent most of teenage years and adult life in a relationship. I vowed to stay single for a while and just experience life. I tried Tinder and had some casual flings which was both fun and terrifying, and I learned a lot about myself. As fate would have it I ended up getting re-introduced to a guy I’d had a crush on when I was 13 and we clicked immediately. Now we have a dog together and spend Saturday’s eating pizza in bed.”

“In my first relationship of my 20’s, I wanted to be seen as the “effortlessly cool” girlfriend. The one that got along with all of his mates, drank beer, played video games, told dirty jokes and ate steak while still oozing that flirty femininity and sexual energy. I bottled everything up because I didn’t want to look “crazy” like so many other girlfriends did. Sometimes I felt like I was going to burst! It felt like all of these unresolved emotions and feelings were building up inside of me but I had too much pride to break my persona and let him see my vulnerability.”

Header image by Holly Burgess for The Twenties Club