As soon I entered my twenties, it seemed like people left and right were starting to get engaged. While those getting engaged in their early twenties are few and far between, it’s hard to ignore the increase in relationship status changes on my Facebook feed. There are pros and cons to getting married at any age—even to getting married at all—so I spoke with two 21-year-olds that decided to get engaged in their early twenties.
Thomas is a 21-year-old who recently graduated from his local community college. He dated his high school sweetheart, Sarah, for about four years before he decided to pop the question. They planned to be engaged for about two years before the wedding, but decided to call off their engagement after a little over a year.
According to Thomas, getting engaged seemed like the next logical step in their relationship. “We had already been together for four years and we thought that since we made it through three years of college that it was meant to last,” Thomas said. Thomas and Sarah’s plan was to get married after she graduated, making their engagement roughly two years long. Since they had already been together for so long, another two years seemed like nothing. It also didn’t hurt that Thomas and Sarah saw significant advantages to being engaged long-term in your early twenties.
“Some pros to getting engaged so young is that you get to grow together and you learn everything about your significant other and you form a strong friendship as well as your bond as a couple,” Thomas said. He also believed that getting engaged in his early twenties gave him and Sarah plenty of time to plan their wedding and, in some ways, give their marriage a test run.
Their relationship was long distance. Thomas stayed in his hometown and Sarah attended a university a little over 11 hours away. Thomas and Sarah ultimately called off their engagement because they had grown into different people who wanted different things, and the physical distance contributed to the emotional distance between the two of them.
“With the distance, they will change a bit every time you see them. You also start to grow apart a bit if you don't have regular and good contact,” Thomas said. “It requires a lot from both parties involved and if one is not giving 100 percent, you will fail as a couple.”
Thomas also couldn’t help but notice maturity played a huge factor in why they ultimately decided to break up, as they are both still young and trying to navigate adulthood. He believes their engagement may have benefitted if they each had more time to experience adulthood, but doesn’t think the relationship would have worked out in the end regardless.
After speaking to Thomas about his engagement to Sarah, I had the pleasure of talking to 21-year-old Audrey. Audrey and her fiancé Simon are both a part of the United States Air Force and got engaged one month ago, after just about one year of dating.
Audrey says that being in the Air Force played a big role in why she decided to get engaged so young, as many of her colleagues and peers also got engaged in their early twenties.
“You’re surrounded by all these other people who are getting married really young, so it makes it not so much of a big deal,” Audrey said.
According to Audrey, while her and Simon are unmarried, they can be stationed anywhere in the world apart from one another. The Air Force does everything possible to keep a married couple together, but doesn’t take engaged couples or everyday relationships into consideration.
Audrey told me that all of her friends in the Air Force were supportive and understanding of her decision, but a fair amount of her friends from back home were surprised that she had gotten engaged in her early twenties. There are many misconceptions about getting engaged at a young age, and for Audrey and Simon the pros far outweigh the cons.
“I still go out… We’ll go out together and we’ll have fun. The only thing were really ‘missing’ is that we won’t ‘play the field’ as much, but if you’re in a serious relationship with somebody than it’s no different than being married to them regarding that. If you’re in a serious relationship, you’re not going to play the field anyway,” Audrey said.
Being in the Air Force has also caused Audrey and Simon to mature at a faster rate than many of their peers. They both work full time, live on their own and pay all their own expenses. “I’m in a very different place than a lot of people who got engaged in their twenties…I’m not really a kid anymore,” Audrey said.
Despite their different situations and relationship statuses, Audrey and Thomas surprisingly shared similar attitudes on whether they would recommend getting engaged to people in their early twenties. Both believed that an engagement is not going to be easy—but if you find yourself in a situation where getting engaged makes sense and you are both ready for the commitment, it’s worth it to take the chance.
“If you feel like you can make the choice then go for it. The worst thing that could happen is you fail and learn something along the way and you will become a better person for it,” Thomas said. “There’s a level of sacrifice and commitment that comes with deciding to get married.”
Audrey shared a similar sentiment. “We got engaged so early because of our unique situation of being military. I can’t really say that you should or you shouldn’t—it just depends on your situation… It’s not always easy,” Audrey said. “We get that, especially because we are long distance and in this weird situation, so it’s not always easy—but if it’s worth it then it’s worth it.”
Lauren Brown is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.