Around 7:45 on a foggy March morning, my phone chirped. I put down my Honey Nut Cheerios to read the text message from my friend Chloe: Jessica just got engaged. Someone from our high school class had sorted out the rest of her life while I was still eating cereal in bed.

This text was just the first in a long string of messages and announcements and afternoon gchats from Chloe that would all begin with some variation of: You’ll never guess who got engaged; Did you see the photos from Jason’s engagement dinner on Facebook? All she had to type was — Did you hear? — and I knew what would follow.

One evening on Chloe’s balcony, I asked when the engagement parade might slow down. It may never, she said. I think the avalanche starts around now. From our mid-20s till our late 30s, we would likely be inundated with a social-media stream of engagement announcements, pictures of rings, dinners, bachelor parties and of course, cake-cuttings at weddings we probably wouldn’t be invited to.

The engagements started a few months after my 23rd birthday. Those were easy enough to ignore. I could tell myself that the soon-to-be wedded were secretly religious or simply blinded by the first few dopamine-filled months of a new relationship. There’s no way they’ll make it past 30, I thought.

But not long after I turned 24, my cousin — who’s just two weeks younger than I am — threw an engagement party. Then I realized Chloe was right: The avalanche had started. Winter is coming.

Wedding albums and texts from Chloe shouldn’t have troubled me as much as they did. Watching our friends’ and classmates’ relationships blossom over the years should have prepared me for the inevitability that some of them would end in marriage.

But every relationship that started in college and ended in marriage reminded me of one that hadn’t: My own. While streams of people were posting engagement photos, there were others — just like me — deleting Facebook photos taken with our former partners.

Love at 25 is burdened with a dilemma: Do we split up or get engaged? 25 is the year we are offered the option to renew. Our first driver’s license is reissued after we turn 21; for relationships it happens after we turn 25.

This is, perhaps, because 25 is the first year when love alone isn’t enough to sustain the long-term relationships that felt effortless in college. Social circles have started to splinter off; late nights at the office become more frequent; 401(k) updates set up camp in our inboxes; and soon we’ll be locked out of our parents’ health insurance. He grows fat while she trains for a half marathon. Her friends talk way too much, and his best friend smokes too much weed. The weakest of the relationships that were dragged out past their graduation expiration dates tend to buckle under this kind of pressure.

Love splits our hearts in two at 25, when the heart is perhaps most erratic. We are great lovers at 20, liberal with our passion. At 25, the spectre of our dwindling youth chokes out that earlier tenderness; a heart on the edge acts only in extremes. It is for this reason, it seems, that half of us leave our long-term partners, and the other half go to Zales. With my college girlfriend in California — and the fact that moving to the West Coast is anathema to New Yorkers — I made the difficult decision to break it off. I chose not to renew.

While some of us at 25 sort out wedding registries at Williams-Sonoma, the rest of us try our hands at the various dating apps everyone else has already grown tired of. We tell ourselves that we are “making up for lost time” and spend the next four to nine months trying to sleep our way through our phonebooks.

The engaged will envy our 25. We will regale them with tales of how we woke up one Saturday in a Barnard girl’s dorm room, in her extra-long twin bed. They’ll tell us about a ski vacation they took with their soon-to-be in-laws, and we’ll think about how swell it would be to marry into a family that knows how to ski and still vacations together.

The engaged and the broken-up run parallel courses, separated only by one phrase. Some say: I will. I said: I can’t do this anymore.

Now and then, almost hoping it will hurt, I let myself re-enter the alternate life I abandoned during that phone call with my ex. I imagine packing up boots and bags and my cat into the back of a taxi to board a plane from JFK to LAX. I can almost feel the night breezes of Los Angeles creeping through the window as clearly as my engaged counterparts must dream of their bachelor pads and of a skillet cooking enough food for just one person.

This, ultimately, is life at 25. Not simply making the difficult decision to stay together or to split up, but quibbling with the alternate world we are glad doesn’t exist. And going to brunch. On Sundays at 25, single or engaged, we all do brunch.

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