Voices: ​​I’m almost 25, I’ve never been in a relationship and thought I’d be married by now – what happened?

·4-min read

In September, I’ll be turning 25, and if I’m honest, I thought my life would be worlds away from what it’s like today. Painfully (or comfortably) single, never been kissed and around 400 Tinder matches down the line (over a period of six years… not that I’m counting), I guess you could say that I envisioned my life to be something a little different.

An avid reader of romance novels and the trope that sees an introverted girl fall for a guy in a bookshop, I guess I expected my life to resemble a book when I hit my twenties. But just like in Dolly Alderton’s memoir and new TV adaptation All I Know About Love, it’s clear to me now that your twenties can be far from the rose-tinted version I’d imagined. And when you’re single in your twenties? Well, I guess it does kind of resemble a book after all, with that book being Dolly’s.

When I was growing up, I wasn’t one of those girls who planned out her wedding or decided how many babies she’d be having – but there was one thing I had my sights firmly set on. In my teens, I dreamed of falling in love young, getting married in my mid-twenties and spending the rest of my life with whoever I’d tied the knot with.

A childhood sweetheart seemed idyllic and like something I could get behind. Constantly on the lookout for a classroom crush who might have secretly liked me too, I always thought I’d fall in love at 18 and marry seven years later. I imagined telling our grandkids the story of how we’d fallen in love from across the classroom, or how we’d met on the bus or the train, or at the library while I studied. Suffice to say, none of this happened and as I approach 25, everything I thought I knew about love – much like the women in the BBC adaptation of Dolly Alderton’s book – was all a lie.

As a single woman in 2022, you’re bombarded with situationships that cause your heart to ache, talking stages that are hot and then cold, red flags and pink, getting the “ick” and unrequited love that stings more than a bee. I’ve had more crushes than hot cups of coffee and countless conversations that ended up leading everywhere but where I wanted them to.

In all honesty, I’m not quite sure where I got my initial ideas about my twenties or falling in love from. Thinking about what I first wanted out of my life, it now seems completely unattainable, but some people my age do seem to “have it all”. I’ve seen people my age who have achieved what I first thought I wanted: they’ve got a mortgage, a long-term boyfriend, a baby on the way, a car on finance and a grey crushed velvet sofa.

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In my twenties, I’m single and living at home with my mum and cat. I work most of the time and have forged a moderately successful career for myself, with my life resembling the women in Dolly Alderton’s new series more than that of a nuclear family from the 1960s – and I’m actually kind of relieved. Of course, I’m also slightly miffed that I’ve not found love before turning 25 – I really did have high hopes of it happening – but at the same time, I’m not mad.

Nothing in my life turned out how I thought it would and I’ll likely be stepping into the next chapter of my life as a young, free and single woman, once again. But like so many other single girls in their twenties, I’ve realised I need to revel in the fact that I have the freedom to truly figure out who I am before I inevitably end up falling in love one day.

Plus, these single years where I’m navigating life, making mistakes and learning lessons are truly priceless – and like Dolly Alderton, I’ll have amazing stories to tell one day.

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