The Reality of Dating in Your 30s
Dating at any age comes with a unique set of complications. As a teen, you're more insecure, perhaps struggling with your sexuality or just not yet sure of yourself. As a young adult, dating is romanticized, especially now in an age of social media where you can pick and choose what people see and when.
However, dating as an adult might be the most difficult. Your standards are higher, so it's more onerous to find someone to fit in with your already established life. There's also an element of the "ticking clock," as you may feel like you're running out of time to find the ideal partner. Each and every person has their own hurdles with dating after age 30.
Time to settle down?
"When you're a gay man in your 30s, it's inevitable to encounter a unique set of challenges," said Yuii Brown, a health enthusiast and the founder of Coffee Geek Lab. "Like many others in my situation, I also prefer to see younger guys. When you're 35 dating someone 10 years younger, it can either go amazingly well or horrendously wrong."
Brown described an encounter where he was actually robbed by his date and his date's friends. The experience, unsurprisingly, taught him important lessons.
"In my 30s, I've learned not to chase after the perfect person," Brown said. "I've learned to say no. Most importantly, I've become kinder to myself."
Janine White, a social advocate, also learned a lot about herself through dating in her 30s.
"When I first reached 30, I was divorced," White said. "Thirty was like a cue to reflect on life and do all of the things I should have done before I got too old. I went a bit crazy trying to make sure I never had any regrets. But at 35 a switch was turned on. It became a need to settle down and look for a permanent, steady forever before I was too old. For me, the dating scene in my 30s meant I had to make sure everything I wanted to do was done in preparation for [my] 40s."
White's experience reflects one of the consistent things people often find with dating in their 30s: a change in priorities. You start to refine what you're looking for, and you're no longer willing to settle for sub-standard partners or to simply date for sport. While there are plenty of people in their 30s and beyond who are happy dating on a whim, historically, this part of your life is the time to date with the intention of building something serious.
No more compromises
Nikolina Jeric, the co-founder of 2Date4Love, knows the reality of dating in your 30s versus in your 20s: It's much, much more difficult. There's a shrinking pool of singles and less chance to meet new people because you're less likely to attend parties and social gatherings as often as you did in your younger years.
"We're more likely to be forgiving when we're younger, since we're forming as people at an early age," Jeric explained. "It's easier to date somebody and grow your habits with them while you're younger than when you already [have] habits and you're less likely to change them."
As you get older, you're more likely to have more failed relationships under your belt, and that may add to your caution as you meet new people, but you may also be concerned with the emotional baggage potential partners bring to a relationship.
"As we grow older, we're less likely to compromise, as we're used to our way of living, which can pose a threat to our dating life," Jeric added.
Some advice, from people who've been there
For those getting back into the dating game in their 30s after the end of a long-term relationship, White's best advice is to use the voice you've had 30 years to grow. "Believe in yourself and that you're someone who is wanted by someone," White said. "There is no hurry to find that person, so make sure you have no regrets."
"People in their 30s are often in a rush to settle down," Jeric agreed. "Many women are afraid of their 'biological clock' and the possibility they won't be able to conceive. However, they shouldn't be pressed to do anything and shouldn't settle for something not right for them. Making romantic decisions based on a timeline is hazardous. The best thing to remember is you're not rushing anywhere. There's plenty of time for everything."
Jeric also explained that relationships often end because people fail to communicate their desires and priorities. His advice is to look for people who are truly in sync with you. Confirm this by telling them what you really want, your plans and aspirations, and note how your plans align with theirs. You should be ready to honestly communicate your desires, but it's important you listen to their desires, as well, as this will help you make more informed decisions and avoid pain and confusion later.