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The tweets about Vanessa Hudgens and Austin Butler fundamentally misunderstand the point of relationships in your 20s

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Jessica Rapana
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Vanessa Hudgens and Austin Butler have broken up after nine years together – so, why are people calling it a “nightmare”?

After nine years, five Coachellas and one act of federal property damage together, Vanessa Hudgens and Austin Butler have reportedly split.

While the news has left many fans of the couple understandably devastated, another conversation has emerged from the break-up – the point of dating in your 20s.

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On Twitter, people have labelled the situation – breaking up with someone at the end of your 20s – as their “worst nightmare”. 

Others, meanwhile, have speculated about whether the reason the former couple have broken up has something to do with fact they never married or engaged during their decade-long romance.

“My nightmare would be to spend my entire 20s with someone and not end up marrying them,” one wrote.

“If Vanessa Hudgens and Austin Butler really broke up then so BE itttttt. No one wants to be together for almost a DECADE and not be married or at least proposed to. GoodNIGHT,” added another.

And still one more said: “Ya know… 9 years is a long time to be somebody girlfriend….. After 3 or 4 years ima start asking questions what the fuck we doing because… If you don’t see me as your wife yet then we ain’t got much left to talk about lol.”

To suggest that breaking up with someone in your late 20s, or early 30s, is a “nightmare” is problematic for several reasons. 

First of all, this is to assume that the only metric of relationship success is marriage and staying together ‘til death do us part’.

In other words, this is to assume that the many, many Coachellas together, the swoon-worthy Instagrams, the couple dressing and iced coffee runs, and the illegally carving their names into a rock in Arizonas National Park and being fined $1,000 on Valentine’s Day were all a waste of time because they didn’t last “forever”. 

But, why? Plenty of things in life that are worth doing don’t exist in perpetuity. Sunrises. Sex. A good book. That first glass of wine at 5pm on a Friday. Sleeping in. Holidays. A cup of coffee.

Does love need to be eternal to be worth our time? I don’t think so. 

While I can only speak from my own experience, every relationship in my 20s (all of which have ended, one way or another) has been worth it. Each has taught me something about myself and about relationships. One taught me kindness, another taught me to surf.

Another thing: the rhetoric simmering under the surface here – that women have to settle down before 30 – is a whole different kettle of problematic fish. The deep-seated myth that women risk being left to collect dust on the proverbial shelf after 30 is outdated and silly.

I have plenty of friends who have found themselves single at 30. And, spoiler: they’re better for it, shedding relationships that weren’t right for them now and eventually finding one that is. Others haven’t met someone else and yes, they’re still better off.

The alternative of staying in a relationship that is no longer serving you, to me, is the real nightmare. 

Again, a relationship doesn’t have to be forever to be worth it. 

In my experience, some of the best ones – the can’t eat, can’t sleep, reach for the stars over the fence, world series kind of love – aren’t.

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Jessica Rapana

Jessica Rapana is a journalist based in London, and enjoys writing across all areas of women’s lifestyle content. She is especially fond of news, health, entertainment and travel content, and drinks coffee like a Gilmore Girl.

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