A 22-Year-Old Relationship Crisis


The thing about being 22 is that all I am thinking about is this vague concept of my future. Yes, I have a job, but what is going to be my career? Yes, I have a passion, but where is that going to take me? Who are my friends now and who will still be my friends in 5 years? I am healthy and fit now, but is it all down hill from here? Should I pursue a further degree? Honestly, who the hell knows?

Being 22, whether you just graduated from college, you’re still in college or you didn’t go to college, is the time when out of nowhere you are supposed to figure out what your future has in store. This age is filled with some of the greatest moments of change you will ever experience, in my opinion at least. It is both terrifying and thrilling, as most terrifying things are. For many people, a part of figuring out your future includes figuring out a lot about love, romance, partnership, dating and all that jazz.

More and more often I hear my friends, both male and female, discussing their current relationship status. Some are rocking the 20 something dating world, some are over-worked and under-sexed, some have reverted to hooking up with old high school friends, some have already given up hope at the ripe age of 22 and are in the process of living out their self fulfilling prophecies of being cat ladies, and many are in long-term relationships.

There are two primary long-term relationships I have noticed at this age, and all of them seem to suddenly be in the midst of the 22-year-old relationship crisis.

First, there is the high school sweetheart relationship. These couples have been together since they were teenagers. They made it through the temptations of college in one piece, they may have broken up a few times, and everyone either thinks they are destined to be together forever, or cannot even begin to understand why they are still together. Lets take a good friend of mine as example of this couple. We will call him Jack and his girlfriend Jill. Jack and Jill have been together since they were 17 and 16 respectively. Their relationship confused people from the start, but they were incredibly skinny and trendy and cool together so no one really asked questions. They are still incredibly skinny and trendy and cool, and now they are sickeningly talented as well. The important thing about this couple is that they were mere virginal teenagers when they got together, and now they are in their twenties. The times have changed, as have Jack and Jill. This couple has lived long past their expiration date, yet they still love each other deeply, care about one another and most importantly, are comfortable together. As Jack and I sat discussing our relationships recently, he expressed that the long story short it that, “after this long, it can be really hard to walk away.” Ain’t that the truth. This is a truth that a lot of high school sweetheart relationships are faced with right now.

Second, there is the college couple. Out of all the chaos, sex, and alcohol that college brings, this couple managed to find one another and commit. This couple has almost definitely had its bumps in the road, from drunken-fueled infidelity, to semesters abroad, to the “now what” moment that comes with graduation. This couple I inherently understand, as I am apart of it. My significant other (I am using vague terminology as to not identify my sex) and I got together when we were 19. Three years later we are still together. We don’t fight often, we are best friends, we have discussed moving in together and marriage, and I am afraid that we have no future. We have had our fair share of issues, as all college couples do, but we are still together, so what does that mean? Of course we are only 22 so we don’t need to obsess over our life partners and what not… but don’t we? If we aren’t going to get married, or at least see ourselves getting married, than kind of what is the point? Aren’t we wasting our prime dating years by staying committed to a relationship that will most likely fizzle out in the next few years? At the same time, aren’t we ridiculously lucky to be in an awesome relationship? To be young and in love and sexually active? Isn’t that what life at this age is all about? I truly do not know the answer to this question, but I am surely wondering.

Why don’t I see myself marrying said individual? Well, one of us is growing up while the other seems stagnant. One of us wants children and the other doesn’t. One of us does drugs and one of us is straight edge. Slowly, our differences in major life philosophy seem to be showing themselves. The few topics that we do fight about, we have been fighting about for several years. There are certain core moral and philosophical decisions that we do not see eye to eye on. On the other side, we know each other better than anyone knows us and we always have fun together. Shouldn’t that count for something?

Neither I, nor Jack, nor any of my other 22/23 year old friends in serious relationships, intend to make any brash decisions any time soon, but isn’t that what we are supposed to be doing? Making decisions about our future? Deciding who we want to be? Figuring out what we are going to do?

The important thing to understand is that most people this age are reflecting on so many aspects of our lives and our futures that is becomes inherently easy to question aspects that may, or may not, have any prevailing issues. It isn’t just us that is doing the questioning either. It is our parents, our friends, our old professors and coaches; it is everyone. It seems like everyday that someone asks me if my significant other and I are going to get married, or what I plan on doing with my life. Every interviewer wants to know where I see myself in five years. I feel like I am going to implode from all of these questions about the future. I have spent the last 4 years barely thinking past dinner, let alone 5 years down the road.

Basically, what I am trying to say is that of course so many of us are panicking about our relationships. We are panicking about everything else, so why not our love life as well? My advice to myself, and to everyone that finds themselves all of the sudden questioning their relationships is to continue to question, but to wait. Wait and see if those questions are answered sooner rather than later, or if perhaps those questions fade away. Wait and see if you are just having a quarter life crisis. Wait and see if there is a deeper issue causing you to over analyze your relationship all of the sudden.

image – Katie Tegtmeyer