The Relationships To Nurture In Your 20s

As we bumble through our 20s and into our 30s, the relationships we’ve formed begin to metamorphosise.

There are many parts to our brains that are still in fact developing in our mid-20’s – and relationships, in their many forms, can be a tough path to navigate because of this. Elisabeth Shaw, Clinical Director of Relationships Australia, believes this is a time to focus on a few relationship tasks.

“Some people are still negotiating their adults roles in relation to their parents, which is compounded in complexity by still living at home, which many nowadays still do, with mixed feelings all round! It is also a time of developing a whole world of new networks through travel, work and study, which can mean a reorganisation of social time with the old gang from school. And of course it is a time of partnering, breakups and repartnering, which also takes a toll. These negotiations and juggles can be hard to navigate and process and at times finding a neutral person to talk matters through can be helpful, as you can feel everyone around you has one bias or another,” Elisabeth says.

The relationships that come, and stay, easily

You know that friend you’ve had for over a decade now? The one you would get dressed with before school socials, or dance with at school socials. The one who knows your parents by their first names and sat at your dining table. You’ve seen each other at your worst and you’ve popped out the other side of those awkward years still smiling at each other.

You don’t see them as often as you did while you were in school, but when you do, it’s effortless.

The relationships that don’t ask for anything, and want nothing in return

These are precious and will often last without you realising. You are never under pressure and the expectations are non-existent. You can talk as often or as little as you like, about whatever you want, and never have a heavy heart.

Don’t assume that these relationships are emotionless, however. There is something to be said for anyone or anything able to leave you in a blissful state without much effort or cost. Put more time in, and you’ll reap rewards.

The relationship with your own mind, body and spirit

Whilst this relationship is often bumpy in your 20’s and 30’s, it can begin to become a rewarding little thing. The definition of a relationship, i.e. the state of being connected, starts to make a little more sense and you can begin to accept yourself a little more.

We often find ourselves wanting to challenge ourselves more, whether it’s through study, engaging with our communities, or professional careers. Or wanting to pay closer attention to our health – this can be through exercise regimes and making conscious decisions about what we eat and drink. And we also might start to make sure our minds are happy through things such as yoga or meditation, taking up hobbies, or seeking help from professionals if you or someone close to you has acknowledged that you might need a little nudge in the right direction.

The relationship with your family, and extensions of your family


Whether you have a wonderful relationship with your family, or if it is something in a complete state of flux and repair, there is no denying the different levels of understanding or respect for your parents that grow as your age does, too.

Despite the tantrums, your siblings, you’ve worked out, are here to stay and are a constant in your life.

And your grandparents. You begin to realise that underneath all of the sneaky treats they used to impose on you when you visited, they have an unrelenting desire to watch and share in your life as it unfolds.

If you are lucky enough, there are also those parents of friends who treat you as their own.

For some, your relationship with your biological family might never be what you want it to be. Speaking to a counselor can help you find peace with this.

The relationship with your boss, and your colleagues

There was a time when you would stay out too late and call in sick with little to no warning and terrible excuses. Or when your mates were planning something for the long weekend and your FOMO kicked in and suddenly you didn’t care about those shifts that were inevitably going to pay for whatever it was that your mates were planning. The rubbish excuses to your boss about having a Great Aunt visit at the last minute, or hurting your ankle while jogging last night even though you’ve never jogged in your life kept flowing.

You have also developed an understanding that your colleagues are people you’re going to spend a third of your day with, 5 days a week, and you try to best to enter into transparent, productive and supportive environments.

You also know now when it’s time to challenge yourself and move on from careers that aren’t supporting or accepting your professional endeavours.

The relationship with your partner, or casual partners

As you grow into your own skin you become more accepting and appreciative of others’. Your understanding of what you want has expanded, you have begun to see and appreciate diversity, and you understand the need for healthy and supportive partnerships that foster growth.

Society also no longer dictates your choices, and the fact that you can be fluid in who, or who not, to enter into relationships with is a source of calm.

The relationship with those around you, and those you are yet to meet

We were always taught to give up our seat on the bus for the elderly or pregnant. That respecting your elders was in your best interests and to do to others as you would have them do to you.

We now may see someone in a distressed state and know they might need our help and someone to speak to, or that a struggling mother appreciates it when you carry her groceries to the car as she wrangles a pram.

We also acknowledge that there may be a point, or many, in our futures that we too will have strangers offer their help, people we are yet to meet but are grateful for.

As we come into ourselves and discover we too possess little quirks, our acceptance of others, and ourselves, is greater as a result. Then something beautiful happens – we’re able to give more to others, including ourselves.

Emily is an arts administrator with a background in writing and music. By day, she works at the ANU School of Music, and by night she moonlights as a contributing writer, the Communications Coordinator and Secretary for MusicACT, and dabbles in freelance marketing, social media and communications for the arts.