Sex and the 'Seo: Reality Bites

I'm 20, which means, thanks to my seventh grade boyfriend, I have officially been in the dating pool for the past eight years. While I do not pretend to be an expert on relationships, there are some things I have observed since I was 12 years old, slow-dancing to N'Sync at the Homecoming Dance and making out during a matinee show of She's All That. In the years after high school, I have noticed that more and more of my friends are developing "scary ages."

A scary age can be defined as the age you set to be married, have kids, or join an online dating network. Everyone has a scary age. Women, men, stray cats, everyone.

Some are earlier than others. My house mate wants to be married by the time she is 26. I, however, have allowed myself until my late 20s or early 30s. Our other house mate thinks the whole concept of scary ages is ridiculous. Secretly, hers is 36.

There is no harm in keeping a scary age, but it should be used accordingly.

It should be far enough off that it does not cloud the present. You should not be worried about fulfilling your scary age a decade before it arrives. Think of yourself as a banana or an apple: you have to allow yourself to ripen.

It should not be the be-all, end-all of your dating experience. Do not settle down with a partner just because you're with him or her when you hit the scary age mark. Better yet, do not ever settle. Talk to yourself like you would talk to a friend. If someone is not good enough for you, wake up and realize it. Life is too short to spend it with people who do not fully appreciate you.

My friends and I are addicted to The Bachelor. This season, just like every other, a woman was on the show whom you could tell knew how to play the game. Aside from talking about all the seasons of The Bachelor she had seen, she was also obsessed with getting married. On one of their individual dates, she told the Bachelor that she had a "love plan" - she wanted to be married in a certain number of years and have kids soon thereafter. Needless to say, she did not get a rose that night.

This is very important: unless you are dating the biggest dead-beat on Earth and are using it as an ultimatum, never share your scary age with your significant other. It will only freak them out. My mom's a social worker and I was always taught to talk things through, but this is one instance where it is okay to keep silent. Scary ages are for personal use only. Believe me, your partner does not care that you want to be married by the time you're 28. In fact, it would probably freak him or her out.

Remember, your scary age is not an expiration date. There is life after a scary age. Look at Jennifer Aniston. After going through a very public divorce with one of Hollywood's sexiest men, she told Vanity Fair just months after the split that she would absolutely remarry and still planned on having kids. She did not care that her former husband went from being Brad to Mr. Jolie-Pitt. It was one small step for Team Aniston and one giant leap for single people everywhere.