Jenna Bush Hager Admits ‘I Should Have Dated More’ Before Getting Serious with Now-Husband in Her Early 20s

The 'Today' co-host says she was a "serial monogamist" before meeting Henry Hager when she was 22

Gary Gershoff/WireImage Jenna Bush Hager and Henry Chase Hager
Gary Gershoff/WireImage Jenna Bush Hager and Henry Chase Hager

Jenna Bush Hager is getting candid about one big regret from her pre-marriage life.

On the Thursday, May 23, episode of Today with Hoda and Jenna, Bush Hager, 42, opened up about how she got into a serious relationship with her now-husband Henry Chase Hager, 46, at a young age.

The TV personality and former first daughter recalled being 26 years old when they wed in 2008 at her family's lakeside ranch in Texas — and she was even younger when they met, first getting acquainted around her 23rd birthday.

Jamie McCarthy/Getty Jenna Bush Hager and Henry Hager
Jamie McCarthy/Getty Jenna Bush Hager and Henry Hager

“I dated in college, I dated in high school. But I didn’t date enough, which is what I realized," Bush Hager admitted on the talk show.

She continued to say that she wants her children to learn from her experience: "I want to talk to my kids, not only [to give them] the Tracee Ellis Ross [advice of] 'You’re the chooser' but [also to tell them], 'You don’t have to stay in a relationship if you’re not engaged in it.' Like, I was a serial monogamist, which was fine. But I should have dated more."

Co-host Hoda Kotb chimed in and asked, “How come? Why do you think that?” to which Bush Hager responded, "I just think you should."

Related: Jenna Bush Hager Says She Felt 'Guilt' About Being Pregnant When Hoda Kotb Was Trying to Have Kids (Exclusive)

She continued, "I met the right person early and it’s great and we’ve built a really incredible life and I’m proud of it. But also, you should have fun and date while you can."

<p>Shealah Craighead/The White House via FilmMagic</p> Jenna Bush Hager and Henry Hager

Shealah Craighead/The White House via FilmMagic

Jenna Bush Hager and Henry Hager

Dismantling societal expectations, Bush Hager said, "Girls are taught that, 'Be careful or otherwise you’ll get a bad reputation.' And you can do both. You can date a lot of people and stay true to yourself.”

Kotb, 59, agreed and added that people are often unrealistic about dating timelines.

"I think people do think, ‘What’s wrong with me if I don’t meet somebody by this time or this time.’ But you’re right about dating and trying it. And not every person you have a relationship with is meant to go the distance,” Kotb said.

Bush Hager added, "I think when we were growing up, you have this dream of the prince. So therefore, I went into relationships, if I’m honest, thinking, ‘Is this one going to go the distance?’ At that young age."

Related: Hoda Kotb and Jenna Bush Hager Slam Harrison Butker's Controversial Commencement Speech: 'Stop Speaking for Women'

Kotb recalled her own thoughts while on the market at a young age: "One of the things I used to [think] when I met someone was, 'Does he like me?' Like, imagine that. 'I so hope he likes me.' Not like, 'This is who I am.'"

Bush Hager responded, "As opposed to, ‘Do I want HIM. DO I like him!’ We gotta change the narrative, man!"

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Bush Hager met her husband when he was working for her father, former President George W. Bush, who served in the Oval Office from 2001 to 2009. The couple got engaged in 2007 and were married the next year on his birthday. Last May, they celebrated their 15th wedding anniversary.

Earlier this month, Hager shared a birthday tribute to her husband on Instagram. She posted a collection of family photos to her feed, one of which showed the couple sharing a sweet smooch on a concert date night.

"Happiest birthday to the best who never took to social media! Henry Hager we ❤️you with all we are! Been together for 20 birthdays.....(still feel 26!!)," she wrote.

Bush Hager and her husband share daughters Mila, 11, and Poppy, 8, as well as son Hal, 4.

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