What to do About That Quarter-Life Crisis: Dating

In the second of our three-part article series, therapist Masha Sorkin shares her best tips and tricks for 20-somethings navigating the ups and down of dating and relationships.


What are some common “quarterlife” crises you see among 20-somethings?

Most people go through a really tough adjustment phase in their 20’s. That might include adjusting to a new job, leaving school where you had a built-in support system and social life on demand, and realizing that you now have to think about things in more of a “big picture” kind of way.

Dating in the Tinderworld can be exhausting! Any tips for 20-somethings navigating online dating?

Online dating is fun but also challenging. It is easy to get discouraged after going on several dates and either not meeting people you really click with or finding you like people and they don’t reciprocate or even “ghost” you. It is important to keep in mind that it just takes one person, and the more opportunities you allow yourself to meet new people, the more likely you are to find the right one. I would encourage you not to give up, no matter how draining it can get. Taking little breaks to recharge is great, but try to get back into the game rather than losing hope.

What advice do you give you to someone who is going through a breakup after their first long-term relationship?

Breakups are really hard and can make you feel truly broken. It is important to give yourself time to grieve, as you would with any loss, even if it feels sad or uncomfortable. It is sometimes easier to distract or be in denial, but after those things wear off, you end up right back where you started feeling that pain. Taking the time to really feel your feelings and reflect on what you have learned about yourself and your needs can help you feel stronger and more confident.

When should you consider looking for a therapist to help you navigate a quarterlife crisis? How can therapy help?

Therapy is something that everyone can benefit from, even when things are mostly going well. Having a neutral and unbiased outlet where you can vent, process thoughts and feelings, and even get feedback can always be helpful. If you are doing well, you may utilize therapy as a place to proactively check in to ensure you’re making progress towards your goals. If you are starting to have a tougher time dealing with things, you can confront that in therapy before it snowballs into an even greater challenge. Lastly, if you are really struggling, therapy can be a place where you can go regularly to help stabilize and come up with an action plan to get out of that crisis state.

What’s the one thing you tell every 20-something experiencing a quarter-life crisis?

THIS IS NORMAL! People often tell me, “this isn’t me” or “I never did x, y, z.” Change is hard, and it is even harder to accept that things you did well in the past are seemingly more difficult in this new stage of life. This is not who you will be forever. It is a time where you may need to find different skills or coping strategies, but things will feel okay and you will feel like whatever self you want to be if you deal with the present rather than fighting it.