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"The dating mistake I made in my 20s that almost ruined my love life."

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We spend our 20s thinking we have nothing but time. All the serious stuff like marriage and kids are now happening later in life, so we feel like we can concentrate on other things while we’re young.

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I spent my 20s focusing on my career. I was passionate about music, and at 20 years old, I accepted a job as a Junior Digital Marketing Manager at Interscope Records. I went from a Junior to an Executive in less than four years, and my dedication to my work paid off.

Love wasn’t a priority, but I still wanted some companionship from time to time. I dated here and there but never seriously. I choose looks over substance and influence over kindness in my men. (Post continues after gallery.)

I knew these guys were no good, but I kept dating them because I figured I had plenty of time for the serious types later in life. “It’s not like I’m going to marry him,” I’d tell myself and others who asked. “I’m not in a rush, and I’m just having fun.”

And it was all fun and games until I woke up at 30 years old and diagnosed with cancer, which forced me to think about what I really wanted.

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When I was ready to get serious and settle down, I began dating aggressively, but things weren’t clicking. The men I was attracted to weren’t ready for a relationship, and I was distant with the men who were ready.

It took me months to figure it out, but I finally realised I had made what was truly the biggest mistake of my 20s: I spent a decade building bad dating habits that weren’t as easy to break as I expected when I was actually ready for something serious.

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I thought that, once I was ready, everything would fall into place, but I was wrong. Suddenly, I had to battle with patterns I created, walls that I built and the bad taste in men that I developed over the years.

It's true that our 20s are a time when we shouldn’t worry as much about our future. We should experiment and have fun, but we must do so while knowing that it’s a vital time in our life where we are practicing for our future.

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In our 20s, we're establishing our boundaries of how we relate to others and the type of romantic life we want. If, in our 20s, we're practicing being distant, emotionally unavailable and dating jerks, guess what? In our 30s, we turn out distant, emotionally unavailable and still dating assholes.

If you’re in your 20s now, I urge you to look at the dating habits you're establishing for yourself.

Date men who are good and kind. Date the guy you wouldn’t mind marrying. Practise having the right relationship. Establish those good patterns with good men, so that when you're ready, you don’t have to battle bad patterns.

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I want you to understand that this isn’t me urging you to get married in your 20s. By all means, you should focus on career, your personal development and becoming an amazing human being. But while you’re at that, create positive relationships habits as well.

For those women who are out there, you don’t have to go through a traumatic event in your life like I did to start figuring this out. Start taking a look at your past and what patterns in dating you created for yourself and actively work to break those habits.

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Take a piece of paper and make three columns. At the top of the page, write the names of the last three relationships you had. Write down the qualities you liked in each man under his name. Take a separate piece of paper and do the same thing, except this time list the things that you didn’t like and why it didn’t work out.

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Start to look for the pattern. Pay attention to of the type of men you spend your time with now. Start dating outside of your type. Don't go out with a guy just because he’s the type you’re used to. Step outside of what you’re comfortable with. Practice the right dating habits with the right type of men.

Don’t make the same dating mistake that I did.

This post was originally published on Your Tango.