Ways to form healthy relationships in your twenties
Your twenties are supposed to be the greatest time of your life. You’re a newly-minted adult. Your entire future is in front of you. You’ve got the whole world at your feet. At least, that’s probably how you always imagined it would be, especially once you hit your teens and started chafing under your parents’ seemingly arbitrary household rules. But now you’re on your own, and the good times aren’t exactly rolling as you’d expected.
It’s hard. Sometimes, really hard. Maybe you’ve just graduated college and you’re trying to get your bearings in your new adult life. Or maybe you’ve just accepted your first big-time, grown-up job in a new town away from friends and family.
Whatever your particular circumstances, it takes time to find your footing in your new life, to make new friends, and find your place in the world. After all, odds are that, for the first time in your life, you no longer have school to surround you with peers who share similar goals, interests, and experiences.
But finding your independence doesn’t mean finding yourself alone. It’s an art and science to make friends and build relationships, but once you get the hang of it, it’s not all that tough. Indeed, the bonds you create in your twenties can be ones that last a lifetime.
Know What You Want
Being on your own, truly on your own, for the first time is straight-up scary. But you can’t let that rush you into making reckless, life-changing decisions, such as hurrying to get married or have a baby, just because you’re uncomfortable being alone. Although you may think this is a great way to improve your relationships in your twenties, it’s only a recipe for isolation in your future.
By getting familiar with the discomfort of being alone now, you’ll find plenty of time to take stock and figure out what you want for your life and relationships.
This, of course, includes all relationships, not just romantic relationships. The quality of your friend and family relationships matters too, and what is so exciting about this time in your life is that your friendships aren’t just based on chance anymore. It’s no longer just about who lives in your neighborhood or sits beside you in your homeroom. Now more than ever before, you get to choose who you want to surround yourself with.
So choose wisely. Figure out what makes you happy, and find the crew that will help you get there.
Getting What You Want
Of course, understanding what — and who — you want in your life is only the first step. Those experiences and relationships won’t just come to you or materialize out of thin air. You have to work for them.
This may involve making a plan and having a strategy. For example, if you are relocating for a new job, then take the time to negotiate your relocation benefits with your new employer. For example, your employer might compensate you for a house-hunting trip to your new town or defray the costs of buying or renting your new home.
Having the luxury to scope out the city and find the ideal neighborhood can be a terrific first step in settling into your new community. Take time during your house hunting trip to look at the amenities offered in any neighborhood that could help you meet others. Check out the clubs, activities, and entertainment you’ll have access to and start making new contacts.
Your future employer can help with this as well, especially if discounted memberships to gyms and other recreational centers are a part of your job benefits package.
If you’re relocating to a new town or city, it’s also a good idea to look into local support groups or mental health care. This is a good idea even if you’ve never experienced mental health challenges, but it’s imperative if you already do or have a history with them.
If you have a history of addiction, for example, a top priority would be to identify resources that enable you to connect with others who are also in recovery. Further, if you are a member of a traditionally marginalized group, such as the LGBTQ+ community, identifying the resources you will need to help you feel safe, accepted, and connected to your new city is especially important.
Of course, forging new relationships doesn’t mean getting rid of existing ones, especially those that are precious to you. However, whether you are relocating or not, moving into a new phase of life will inevitably mean that your relationships will change.
This can be a difficult transition, both for you and your loved one, especially if there are complicated circumstances, such as an anxiety or depressive disorder. Growing your romantic relationships will probably require some additional effort. One way to do this is through individual or couples therapy to ensure that you and your partner are healthy, happy, and moving toward a future that you both deserve.
Therapy is ideal for any couple facing a significant transition, but it’s especially important where certain mental and behavioral health challenges are involved, including depression, anxiety, and substance use disorders (SUD).
Your twenties might be the prime of life, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy, especially when it comes to making friends and forging relationships. However, if you take the time to learn what you want and need from the people you choose to surround yourself with, then you truly can begin to establish bonds that will sustain and enrich you for the rest of your life.
Guest post by Luke Smith
Tags: behavioral health, crossroads health, forming relationships, lake county, mental health, mental health awareness, mental health treatment, mental illness, relationships, relationships in your twenties, youth mental health