healthy, long-lasting relationship is something that everyone seeks. This is especially true for individuals in their 20s. If you're in your 20s, you’re likely just starting to experience the freedoms of adulthood. Maybe you’re away at college, or you’ve finally saved up enough money to move out and you’re ready to break off from your parents and get your own place. Regardless of the specifics of your situation, you're likely to meet a significant other and experience a real adult relationship. Maybe you just started a fantastic relationship, or maybe you just got out of a really bad one. Either way, at some point or another, you may find yourself asking a simple question. How long do relationships typically last at my age?

Well, you don’t need to worry, we here at Adultist are happy to answer these kinds of questions for you as well as provide you with some helpful advice for maintaining long and healthy relationships.

Are You Likely to Even Have a Lasting Relationship in Your 20s?

According to Statista, 34% of people between the ages of 18 and 29 were in a relationship for 3 years at the time of the survey. 18% had been in their relationship for up to 5 years, and 14% were in a relationship for only half a year. This survey featured age groups ranging from 18 to older than 50 and had a population size of 1059. Only 232 of the 1059 participants were between the ages of 18 and 29. Here is a quick breakdown of the longest relationships based on age range, if you’re curious-- 

  • 18-29: 3 years at 34%
  • 30-40: more than 10 years at 39%
  • 50 and up: also more than 10 years at 72%

Based on this study we can conclude that if your relationship can make it past the five-year mark you have a pretty high likelihood of staying together. 

Here is something to consider, this is a rather small population size so it should be taken with a grain of salt. This survey was also taken in 2017 so the data may be a bit off when you take societal and cultural changes into account. Other sources claim the average relationship for 20-year-olds lasts around 4 years

It’s pretty tough to pin down a true average. You’ll need to take a lot of things into consideration—country, state, and ethnicity—and honestly there is likely a pretty big variation between relationship lengths in the early, mid and late 20s. After all, the section of our brain responsible for regulating our emotions isn’t fully developed until around 25. So those in their early twenties may have shorter relationships compared to those in their mid to late twenties. It really comes down to the individuals and their specific relationships.

A couple sitting on a bench together

No one relationship is the same as another. Enjoy your time with your partner and try not to worry about how long it will last. Image courtesy of Unsplash.

Why Do Relationships In Our 20s Last As Long As They Do?

There are honestly a number of factors that make dating in your 20s feel so difficult. More often than not these factors can compound on top of one another to make sustaining long-term relationships feel impossible.

  • Emotional instability
  • New found independence
  • Conflicting priorities
  • Social Media

Emotional Instability

We touched on this a bit earlier and while it might be a hard one to hear it is true. I know many of us in our early 20s like to think we are the most mature person we know and that we have our lives and emotions under control but I’m 23, and every now and then I catch myself letting my emotions get the better of me and I end up saying or doing something that I shouldn’t. It comes with youth and most of us will simmer down with time. 

A sad looking girl holding a fake smile up to her face

Sometimes life is just hard and you need some time to work through stuff. Image courtesy of Unsplash.

This emotional instability can cause us to flip out over small things, often as a result of other aggravations we’ve experienced during the day or even week, and we end up taking those frustrations out on our family, friends, and even our partners. Of course, this isn’t healthy behavior. It requires maturity and self-control in order to deal with our problems in healthy ways and that often comes through hard work on one’s self or with age and experience.

Newfound Independence 

A man standing at the top of a mountain triumphantly.

Ah independence, a blessing, and a curse. Image courtesy of Unsplash.

Your own apartment, your own space, your own rules! But you’re also on your own. You likely live by yourself and you have bills that you are responsible for. It can be super stressful. Maybe you’re off at college, and for the first time, you don’t have any parents leaning over your shoulders telling you what to do. You’re now responsible for your own time. That means figuring out when to eat, sleep, shower, wash clothes, shop for groceries, study, and have a social life. Once again, it can be stressful. 

All these new responsibilities can make finding time to maintain a healthy relationship difficult. Not to mention the stress from school, work, bills, and other obligations. This is often the time period when most people really start to figure out who they are. You’re trying and experiencing new things, it’s scary and exciting! But also confusing. You may find yourself rejecting values and morals that you’ve believed all your life and adapting new truths that better resonate with you. That process can be destructive both to yourself and others around you.

Conflicting Priorities

Some people just want to focus on their school, work, and/or family life and simply don’t have the time to develop serious romantic relationships. Your 20s are a very important time for career development and success. Many people try to take advantage of that by throwing themselves fully into their work or studies. Opting to save serious relationships for when they have settled into their careers. 

Social Media and Cell Phones

Social media has made finding a partner so much easier. Not just with dating apps like Tinder and Bumble, but also through regular social media apps like Facebook, Snap Chat, and Instagram. The digital age has made us more connected than ever, both with new people and old. This ease of access to new prospective partners can often put a strain on relationships. If a person finds that their partner spends too much time on their phone and not enough time with them, it can lead to mistrust and an invasion of privacy. This is oftentimes enough to end a relatively happy relationship early. Oberlo states that more than 32% of social media users are between the ages of 20 and 29. And over 65% of users are under the age of 40. This means that relationship issues caused by social media are more likely to occur with people in their 20s than in any other age range.

A smartphone with many social media apps on it

Our best friends and worst enemies. Image courtesy of Unsplash.

What Can You Do To Make Your Relationships Last Longer?

First things first you want to be selective with your partners. This means holding yourself and your candidates to a high standard. It also means keeping an eye out for red flags during the selection process and during the first few dates. Here is a list of common red flags to avoid when looking for a partner-- 

  • Lack of trust
  • Physical abuse
  • Emotional abuse
  • Mental abuse
  • Overly controlling
  • Narcissism
  • Codependency
  • Jealousy

Each of these red flags can show signs of an unhealthy relationship that should be cut short. If you can spot them early in the dating process you can move on to better relationships faster. 

Next, you may need to take a critical look at yourself. Here’s a conversation no one wants to have but it’s the hard truth so let's talk about it. No one is perfect, everyone has flaws. The key to having long and healthy relationships is recognizing your own flaws and working on them over time so that they are as manageable as possible. You’ll also need to learn how to spot the flaws in others and decide if they are flaws you can live with or not. Being able to compromise, understand, and relate with your partner will contribute greatly to your relationship's long-term success.

Finally, you’ll need to learn how to solve conflicts in a way that is non-destructive. Yelling and screaming can win you an argument, but it will often cause tension between you and your partner. Learning to be a good listener and having good control over your emotions and anger can prevent arguments from getting out of hand. Conflict is a natural part of being in a relationship. It’s how we deal with that conflict that determines how long our relationships last.


So, what did we learn today? Relationships are hard and they are even harder when you're in your 20s, thanks to our whacked-out emotional state, stress, inexperience, newfound independence, addiction to social media, and other problems that keep us from getting our much-needed 8 hours of sleep at night. It’s a real mess, still, there is hope. Finding a new relationship partner has never been easier, and if we keep those dating tips in mind and continue to work on ourselves we should have no problem finding a suitable partner for that much desired long-term relationship.

Sep 29, 2022