Why We Should Never Work To Be Happy In Our Early 20s

If you’re not making progress after years of hard work, you might want to consider what the future holds.

In The Way We’re Raising Our Children , author and psychologist Dr. Michael Gurian (who spent 20 years working as a therapist) writes that a new study suggests that the best predictor of life satisfaction in the late twenties is having married someone who wasn’t married in the early 20s. The person who got a divorce two decades earlier and then married someone else had a lower chance of being satisfied.

It’s true that many of the couples in this study stayed together for the long term, but they were still in the middle of their romantic bloom period. They were still finding each other attractive and meaningful. They already had a good foundation to get married to, they already had something to call “their own.” If the relationship is already in place, there’s not a lot a breakup could do to ruin it. Maybe you need to get to that better place earlier. I know that feeling well.

For many young adults, the long-term is a fantasy. For some we have a hard time making a lasting love connection. It seems like a good idea to give yourself a little time to find someone who’s ready and willing for a long-term commitment and a real commitment.

At the same time, even the relationship that makes sense for you in your early 20s can feel a bit out of reach and impossible. If you don’t work to be happy in your 20s, your happiness, the potential for a long-term marriage, and your overall sense of self-worth can suffer. That’s not healthy.

“It’s hard to maintain that passion and that drive. The more difficult it is to be happy, the more you must work.” ― Scott Olson , The Art of Seduction

You can’t be happy without a good marriage, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be happy with one or two marriages. It might even mean dating a lot of people. There are many reasons to live out your early 20s. You can travel the world before settling down and starting a family, have fun and work at your full potential while not letting your life become bogged down too much by bills, responsibilities, or work. Or you need some time to explore your love life and experiment with new partners. And it’s fun to meet people for the first or second time. Just know that you still need work on your long-term marriage skills.

“The world is in crisis. I am ready to make a contribution. I am a student of the world … What the world needs right now is a man who will learn to live now, not for today, but for tomorrow.” ― Henry David Thoreau , Walden

In my case, I have one partner and three other partners in my life. Each one of these relationships is a new chapter in my 20s, and each one is a little complicated and hard to follow. It’s hard not to feel overwhelmed.

There are times when I think that things are falling apart. There are times when I start to think that this entire thing might just be a bad dream, and I can’t really believe that we’ll actually end up married and raising a family someday. There are times when I wonder what the point is.

But my main job is to focus on my friends, family, and job. I have to try to be as happy with the people I have, the people I trust, and my life in general than even I would be if we had a perfect marriage. I don’t feel pressured to follow the ideal marriage plan. I don’t believe that this “perfect marriage plan” will solve my problems.