I’m So Glad I Didn’t Meet My Forever Person Young—Here’s Why

Most of the girls I knew in high school are raising kids, setting the course for the rest of their lives. Meanwhile, I’m over here living in a parallel single-chick universe. The idea of coming home to a husband and a pack of adorable rugrats still seems like some esoteric grownup thing I’m not yet ready to hack. And frankly, I prefer it that way. Here’s why I’m thankful I didn’t settle young:

  1. I craved variety. What can I say? There are so many attractive men in this world. I’ve dated all my fantasy guys—with varying degrees of seriousness—down to the most specific detail. From the mischievous ginger to the tattooed, literature-loving weightlifter, I’ve satisfied every superficial craving. In the long run, I discovered that my standards somewhat mismatched what I truly need in a life partner, but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t having a blast at the time.
  2. I never denied myself an opportunity to be wild. Now that I’m a little older, I refuse to be with a man who lacks potential for the long haul. I’m ready for my perfect match. It’s time to begin the next stage of my life’s adventure, and for me, that means a serious commitment. Still, I think there’s a lot to be said for “getting it out of your system” when you’re young. I’ll never have to play the “what if” game as I get older.
  3. I got to put myself first. Not gonna lie, I cherished my responsibility-free 20s. Except for one serious relationship, I owed no man anything. It was great to make my choices in line with whatever I needed most at the time, whether pursuing a career change or enjoying a drunken night of writing experimental fiction. Some women have to wait years to find that kind of freedom, if they ever find it at all. I discovered mine right at the start.
  4. I wanted to enjoy being young while I was young. Society is–unfairly–way more forgiving of crazy behavior in young people than in folks who’ve reached middle age. Although such judgment is stupid (no one every really outgrows self-discovery), I’m glad I didn’t have to explain myself to anyone. Nobody accused me of selfishness or immaturity. I was only doing the thing 20-somethings are expected to do. “Enjoy yourself while you’re young!” older friends and family members told me. So with their blessing, I went for it, full speed ahead. And I’ve never regretted my use of those years.
  5. I learned how to cope when things don’t work out. Since I’ve not settled yet, it should be obvious that lots of things didn’t work out, at least not how I might have hoped at the time. And it sure has sucked on occasion. Like when I was so tired of pretending to be all “everything happens for a reason” that I angrily put a hole in my bathroom drywall. Or when I wearied so much of my own voice that I yelled till my throat went raw for a week. It’s not like I’ve escaped those awkward responses to thwarted romance. I just know what pattern to expect and know how to wait out the cataclysm. Better to take my knocks early than to face an unexpected divorce at age 50 and realize I have no clue how to get my feet under me.
  6. I needed time to become my truest self. I love the idea of becoming progressively more connected in a relationship over the years, but if I’d started growing together with a man when I was young, I wouldn’t have developed on my own. I’m what you’d call a late bloomer, and only now, in my early 30s, do I feel myself beginning to flower. I like knowing exactly who I am, regardless my relationship status.
  7. More guys have their acts more together as they get older too. The boys needed their soul-searching time as much as I did, right? I didn’t begrudge the mid-20s dudes I knew for being kinda unformed. Me too, pal.We had things to deal with before we could even consider sharing our hearts. But we got older, and we got wiser (or at least developed enough wry humor to see us through), and now here we all are ready to meet one another and form meaningful partnerships.
  8. I appreciate things I wait for. I didn’t feel like I’d met my people in the halls of the high school and I wasn’t about to settle into a clique unless the commitment felt right. It was a bizarre and sucky experience being so alone so much of the time, but when I grew up and finally DID meet my people, I discovered mutually satisfying, inspiring friendships that were totally worth waiting for. If it took me so long to meet my best buds—and if my gratitude for them is actually magnified by those gnarly high school uncertainties—why should true love be any different?
  9. I know there are a lot of ways to be happy. There’s no one way to do life right. Fulfillment takes a billion shapes. I trust my intuition to guide me. I don’t need to compare my joy to other people’s joy. My happiness comes from satisfying personal needs, not from impressing my friends or making people jealous. I’ve got my own internal rhythm.
  10. I didn’t lose my chance at love by waiting too long. I don’t feel like an old maid at all. I feel myself to be in a constant state of growth, only becoming more of a badass as I move forward. I’m stoked to realize that the man who finally gets to call me his own will be pairing off with such a self-actualized, dynamic chick. A woman who’s been shaped by every experience, good or bad. A woman who after all these years is finally ready to find “The One.”
Jackie Dever is a freelance writer and editor in Southern California. When she's not working, she enjoys hiking, reading, and sampling craft beers.