20-Something Transitions: How To Deal with Relationships At Different Speeds










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Dear 40-somethings,

I feel silly writing in about a boy problem, but here it is. I’m graduating college and have a well-paying job nearby. My boyfriend of several years is still finishing community college and then has at least two years to go in university, after which he may even get a graduate degree.

We are very close and share the same values and outlooks in life. I love him but I’m not foolish enough to think that he is “the one”. However, he’s great for me and I think he would make a wonderful life partner (it helps that he’s always been so supportive of me).

I want to support him in return and stay with him, but at the same time, I’m in my early 20s…I’ve moved on from school mentally and am enjoying being able to get away from the broke college student life, and be an adult. I’m getting a condo while he’s staying at his parent’s house (or moving into my condo…rent-free because he can’t afford it). He’ll be busy with homework while I’m making money and moving ahead in life. Is it shallow or sensible to be concerned about where this is going in the future?  – 20-something


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Dear 20-something:

What I know now is that partnerships aren’t “equal” all the time. In this economy, both partners may not be gainfully employed at the same time and more likely, one will be contributing more financially than the other.  I hate to burst your bubble, but most folks are in the “broke” mode at any given time these days for a variety of reasons. If you have a person in your life who is unconditionally supportive of you and your endeavors, I wouldn’t recommend cutting that loose in favor of all the things in life that aren’t necessarily in your control. – 40-something, marketing /publishing industry, wife, mom, Washington DC


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Dear 20-something,

I am not one to discern if it’s shallow or sensible to be concerned about someone’s love and future relationship questions. But I think that by asking … It’s clearly important to you. That’s what matters.  From my experience, it’s normal to ponder these things.

It doesn’t seem as if your question is a pure matter of  “should I stay or should I go”? I also don’t know if you pray or meditate, but as a 40-something what I’d now say to my younger self in that situation is “pray or meditate about it…then turn it over and let go of the results. Try not to force solutions…take the next right action.

In my 20s I felt like I had to figure it all out in advance. I wanted to plan out the timeline of my life, including who I would be with and what that relationship would look like. But now I know you can’t.  Be gentle with yourself. Take the next step that feels right to you now. More will be revealed. — 40-something, married, financial / wealth expert, philanthropy, NYC


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Dear 20-something,

Speaking from experience, if you’re asking this question then you have already emotionally exited the relationship and are trying to rationalize and justify the decision you’ve already made.  Let him go. It doesn’t mean that you don’t love him and appreciate your time together but prolonging the inevitable will only be more painful for both of you. It’s much harder to be the one who ends a relationship but waiting will push it to a more volatile ending. Good luck! – 40-something, VP, Real Estate Broker, NYC


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Dear 20-something,

You don’t have to decide this all today. Many people will advise you to explore all you can and use your twenties as an education for what you do want in life. But that can mean different things to different people. You have to find the education that is right for you. It could mean dating around a lot…and getting to know what you like and odn’t like. It could mean staying involved in a relationship but allowing yourself and your partner room to grow and explore on your own as well  – -be it living in other cities, traveling on your own and giving each other space to explore interests on your own and bring that bck to the relationship. So I would say don’t break up with him but don’t let him move in with you. See how it goes. If it begins to feel like a responsibility to spend time with him, then you know what your decision is. Good luck! – 40-something, NYC, marketing / brand strategist & blogger

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