Guest Writers Week: Redefining Our Twenty-Something Relationship Expectations

By: Dana Sukontarak

When I was 20, I dated someone who refused to change his relationship status on Facebook. He was a “private person” (who just happened to have thousands of female Facebook friends). I eventually gave up on the idea, but I realize now that I only wanted him to publicly post our relationship as validation that I was actually his girlfriend. It all feels so foolish now, but believe me, it made perfect sense back then.

Now that he’s a fallen street sign on my life’s Google map, it doesn’t faze me much to hear about his custody hearings, child support battles, and domestic assault charges. Those women fell into a pit of quicksand that I gracefully sidestepped, but not before throwing six months of my youth away, into a manipulative, light-skinned trash can with a chest tattoo. We learn to accept what we are given, and in our twenties, we really just want someone to think we are the best thing since Cinnabons. Even when we’re treated like mini muffins instead, hey, at least we aren’t Brussels sprouts. Little girls witness stupid women, in media or in reality, who study under the great mentorship of Yvette from Baby Boy. These little girls form the next generation of 20-something Yvettes, tolerating any type of tomfoolery for the sake of having a boo. At age 24, I can’t wrap my head around the relationship standards that women employ.
We idolize overpublicized tramps like Kaylin Garcia, who portray “side chick” status as something honorable or meaningful. We love to cry about sexual double standards, and how we deal with men who won’t claim us. Then we continue to deal with men who won’t claim us, and send scathing messages to the other women in his inbox, just for good measure.
I think it is the mechanism of self-hatred that leads us into ambivalent arms. We’d rather spend time convincing someone to love us than accept the love that flows too freely our way. Capitalism is all about supply and demand, and we seem to demand the supply of love that rides the fine line of sadism. As we tiptoe with the uncertainty of Carrie Bradshaw when it came to Big, we look comparatively less stupid because we aren’t 40-year-old midriff-baring girlwomen. But, we share the stupidity that entails a relationship in which you never, ever know where you stand.
I left the trash can relationship because I was presented with something better, but I realize how easily that could have not happened. Something would have eventually severed our ties, but I’m almost upset I wasn’t able to do it on my own accord of self-respect. However, I’m glad I escaped a fling that would mar my twenties with the same type of self-hating relationship behavior that peppered my teens. Not to mention, I’ve been in a great relationship now for three and a half years, and I thank old boy for showing me what a great relationship isn’t.
The twenty-something mindset is one in limbo between youth and the rest of your life. It’s hard to let go, but much holder to hold onto poisonous patterns of logic. It’s hard to see long-term when you have no idea what your future holds, and it is tempting to side with instant satisfaction. The twenties are a rickety bridge from your teens to your thirties. No one told you to jump on it. No one denied the existence of bloodthirsty sharks jumping up, narrowly nipping your ankles. It is the way we traverse the terrain of our mountainous twenties that determines how we’ll regard it in our thirties, forties, fifties and beyond. And it is the way we behave in our romantic endeavors that will influence the next round of 20-somethings to either embrace concepts of healthy love, or throw them in the trash can.
Dana Sukontarak has no soul during the day. She is a 24-year-old writer living in Hyattsville, Md. She graduated from the University of Maryland in 2012 with a B.A. in Journalism. She founded The Apposite ( in 2013. Follow her on Twitter

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