Love in your twenties is…

I still can’t really finish this sentence. I keep coming back to it like an unfinished puzzle, trying to find the right words that perfectly articulate hundreds of feelings. But whenever I look for the missing pieces I find myself stuttering and stumbling over my words.

Love in your twenties is inherently more complicated and messier than we hoped it would be. It requires greater sacrifices and risk-taking than it did when we were in high school, and you can’t just pick up a boyfriend on MSN Chat.

There are more starts and stops than Ross and Rachel, more explosive arguments than Spencer and Heidi, and a lot less glamorous sex scenes than Chuck and Blair.

My latest writing project is called The Love Diaries and I will be sharing these stories over the next few weeks. I asked a group of very different twenty somethings to share with me their experiences of love and loss in their twenties. The questions were simple but the answers they gave were so incredibly powerful, raw and honest.

Some of these stories will make you laugh, others might make you cry, but all will hopefully bring comfort in knowing that your feelings and experiences are universal. These are real women and real stories. Nothing has been romanticised.

This is just life, as it happened.

Chapter One: What Is Heartbreak Like In Your Twenties?

“Heartbreak is a bitch. It seems Taylor Swift prepared us well for the kind of heartbreak when you realise that you’re no longer loved by somebody, and she’s given us plenty of anthems to cry to when he calls to say he’s had a change of heart.

But no one ever talks about the kind of heartbreak when you are the one inflicting pain. What are we supposed to do when we realise we no longer love the person we once cared about so deeply? When that fiery, passionate love suddenly burns out?

It’s natural to outgrow someone or decide that you need to be alone to figure out what you want, but nothing really prepares us for the cruel act of breaking someone’s heart.  You feel this overwhelming sense of guilt and hopelessness because you know that once that heart is broken it will be up to the other person to pick up the pieces.

I think this is why we see so many people in unhappy relationships. Because although it might not be perfect, breaking up with someone is just so monumentally shit that sometimes avoiding it all together seems like a better option.”

“There are days when I feel so alone and  I wonder why I’m the one that’s alone when I’ve always given my self whole-heartedly to those I love. What I didn’t realise when I was younger is that this feeling of being isolated happens to most women at some point in their lives and in the end it makes us stronger.

I read a quote once that really resonated with me, “You’ll end up being disappointed if you spend your life thinking that people will do for you as you have done for them- not everyone has the same heart as you.”

“I ignored the signs that you weren’t treating me right because I was so blinded by my feelings. You thought you deserved better than me, even though all I ever wanted was to make you happy. You gave up on someone who would have never given up on you.

Love in your twenties is heartbreaking. It is raw and intense. But it is also a huge learning curve. If I had never been with you I would have never realised how strong I am or what I deserve. I have so much more respect for myself now, and even though my heart breaks when I think of what we could have been, it breaks even more at the thought of losing myself.

So thank you for letting me go.”

“Heartbreak is when your whole world can change in 30 seconds. When all you are left with are the ‘what-ifs’. When the one person who could make it better is the one person who packed his bags and walked out the door. When the laughs and the love you shared suddenly seem out of reach.

Heartbreak is when your Ed Sheeran playlist is on repeat, and the bottle of wine in the fridge is your new best friend.

But most importantly, heartbreak is when you learn how strong you really are. You learn who loves you unconditionally, and who will always be there. You learn to wake up and face the day with your head held high.

You learn that goodbye’s can be blessings in disguise, and the only person that needs to be happy, is you.

– Dedicated To The Man Who Broke My Heart But Not My Spirit “

Header image via Tumblr