Being In A Long Term Relationship In Your 20s:


Next month marks Tyler and I being together for eight years. EIGHT WHOLE YEARS. It's quite an absurd sentence to write, partly because I don't feel old enough to have been in a relationship for eight years but also because it quite simply doesn't feel like it has been that long.

Tyler's been in my life for a very long time now, he's watched my siblings grow up and we've both moved to university, moved back home, moved back to London and become an aunt and uncle (twice, no less!) in that time. Our eight years together have been amazing but also terribly blighted by tragedies and bad luck, despite - and maybe due to these two factors, we've grown together throughout our twenties.

As our anniversary looms I've been asked more and more about my experience of being in a long term relationship in my twenties and what it means to be in one, so I thought I'd share it all with you.

First off, reaching this anniversary has oftentimes felt quite improbable. People often mention about going through tough times in relationships at different stages - mainly 3, 5 and 7 years and I can totally attest that being a thing. We're both very different people to what we were when we first got together, looking back at who I was at 18 and who I am now there are incredible differences. Thankfully, we've managed to develop together and whilst our paths, locations and goals have varied slightly we've always found a way back to each other.

When we first started dating we'd just finished 6th form and college and had already decided upon taking a gap year before we both moved to London to study at university - bizarrely we'd both decided upon our separate, yet matching plans before we met. That meant we had an entire, really easy year to spend with each other. Fitting work, gigs and festivals around dates.

Whilst we were both studying at London universities we were each at opposite sides of the city which meant we were close enough to see each other, yet far enough apart to live separate lives with different friends. On the few occasions that people have asked whether I'd regret spending my university years in a relationship should we break up the answer was always, absolutely not. Whilst I was happy at university I was happier because of Tyler and I couldn't regret something that had made me feel happy, safe and supported.


We moved back home following our graduation and whilst I commuted to London still for placements and assisting work Tyler started a Masters. This was cut short when his poor leg was really awfully broken (in two places - the little lamb!)  during a football match, it was our first real struggle as such and it was a real defining moment in our relationship. I took up a second job so I could re-start my driving lessons as until that point I hadn't realised how dependent I was upon Tyler (and his car). We basically lived out of my parents house for the following 18 months before we both, again at the same times, secured proper jobs in London and began planning our move back down.

Up to this point we'd been so busy and naive to life that apart from some awesome summer holidays we'd never really travelled together and so we took the opportunity to go on an American road trip and visit all of our dearest friends from university. It was the absolute best time of our lives and if you're reading this and haven't been travelling yet or, are undecided on travelling on your gap year or taking a gap year. GO! Literally the only regrets Tyler and I have is that we didn't take advantage of the full, entirely free year we both had before university.

So, we've now been living together in London for the past two years, with a housemate, and despite the very tempestuous times we've endured here living with my best friend has been the best thing. Whilst we both work long and often mismatched hours coming home to a best friend who you can have an honest chat with, a good moan or a good cry with is perfect - even if we're rarely ever, ever in at the same time. Nights where we eat grapes and cheese for dinner whilst watching some tv series are my absolute faves.

Your late teens/early twenties are some of the most formative and important years of your life and although mine have been greatly shaped by my relationship they've absolutely not been defined by it - something which I think is really key to the longevity of the relationship.

I really believe that you can find so much reward and fulfilment through being in a long term relationship during such a pivotal time in your life, so long as you're open and willing to change, adapt and grow. Tyler and I have changed and grown into very different people over the last six months alone - as happens each time a tragedy hits. Whilst I've grown even more protective of him because of it it's made me even more aware of what we have.

Being a part of an ongoing and developing relationship through these changing and challenging years can be so reassuring and having a constant support when so, so, so many things have changed has been something I'll be forever grateful of. But, possibly the most important element that we've maintained over these past eight long years is space. We've afforded each other the space to change, to pursue our dreams whilst knowing that we were fully supported by one another the entire time. Supported and not defined by each other, that's key.

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1 comment

  1. Fabulous post Sarah, so nice to a read a positive story about a long term relationship in your 20s! You two must be made for each other.

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