There are probably a hundred reasons why dating in your 30’s is so much better/easier/more fun than dating in your 20’s (and if any 20-something ladies are reading this, trust me when I say that dating will get easier as you get older), but this is a blog post and not a novel, so let’s just start with the big ones:
Confidence is Key
During my 20’s, I was still trying to figure out who I was and what was important to me. Back then, I still harbored fantasies of becoming Susie Homemaker. I wanted to be the perfect, cheerful, bubbly career woman, wife and mother. The woman who always had enough hours in the day to do it all with style and grace, and still look like a million bucks.
Throughout high school and college, I was always disappointed that no matter how hard I tried, I wasn’t that woman. Thankfully, by my 30’s, I finally realized that that’s just not who I am. I accepted and embraced the fact that I’m not a bundle of energy, nor will I ever be (like, not even close – half of my friends call me “Daria”), and that if I can manage to pull myself together enough to look halfway decent (i.e., not wear sweats) at least once a week, that’s a major accomplishment. And that’s OK.
At 34, I know exactly who I am. I will never apologize for it or feel like I’m not good enough. After chatting with my girlfriends and doing some research, it seems like a lot of women have similar realizations in their 30’s, and that epiphany is one of the reasons that dating is so much easier now than it was in our 20’s.
When we are completely comfortable with who we are, the men we date will get to know us as our real selves, not the woman who’s trying to be someone she’s not just to impress some guy. That way, when a guy seems like he’s into us, we know he’s really into us, and not just attracted to a character we portray.
We Know What We Want (What We Really, Really Want)
Yep, that was a Spice Girls reference…You’re welcome.
We all remember when an exasperated Charlotte York wondered, “I have been dating since I was 15! I’m exhausted! Where is he!?!”
I totally understand her frustration. I have dated every type of weirdo under the sun. One ex-boyfriend literally had another girlfriend throughout our entire relationship. Another told me that that he already knew everything he needed to know about life, and that he wasn’t smart enough to remember anything new (ummm, what!?!). And yet another ex admitted to watching horse porn. Horse. Porn. Just once. Just because he was curious…
They weren’t all that crazy, though. Most of the ex-files were fine, except there was something relatively minor in our relationships that didn’t click. Either he wasn’t adventurous enough, or he didn’t like music, or he was rude to bartenders. All traits that, while seemingly insignificant, were things that genuinely bothered me. So after every failed relationship, I made mental notes about deal-breakers, and the qualities that I wanted in a man.
Charlotte was right, dating for 20 years has been positively exhausting, but it has also been a wonderful learning experience that led me to where I’m at right now (dating someone who is absolutely perfect for me). Call it a wish list, shopping list, checklist, whatever. By the time most of us reach our 30’s, we know exactly what we are (and are not) looking for in a man, so it makes it a lot easier for us to sift through all of the barneys to find our Prince Charming.
Aged Like A Fine Wine
You know how people say that women mature faster than men? That’s probably true. In my experience, some dudes in their 20’s still act like beer-chugging, playboy frat guys, and that’s totally fine – they need to get it out of their system. Trust me, you want them to get it out of their system. But that also means that, during that decade of their lives, a lot of men are ill-equipped for serious relationships.
The good news is that most guys will outgrow this shit. Don’t get me wrong, a small group of them will remain bros for life, and if you value your sanity, you will steer clear of them. But for the most part (apart from the inevitable nostalgic beer-bonging at his 20 year frat reunion), 30+ men are past that stage in their lives.
Been there done that
When I was in my 20’s, the grass always seemed greener on the other side of the fence. When I was in a relationship, I was super jealous when my single girlfriends went bar-hopping, got hammered and made-out with random dudes (for the record, I rarely ever made out with random guys, but it always seemed like it would be fun, although now it seems like the most disgusting idea ever). And I would always compare my then-current boyfriend to other men. In my estimation, there was always a smarter guy, a hotter guy, or a guy who’s better in bed. That was usually the case, but that’s beside the point.
Conversely, when I was single, I longed for a warm body to complain about shit to, lie on the couch and watch The OC with me (not that any guy in the history of ever actually wanted to watch The OC), and take me out for a few nice meals.
At 34, I’ve been single, coupled and everything in between, and I learned that the grass is usually greenest exactly where I am standing. I don’t find myself constantly searching for the next best thing, but rather I appreciate what I have, and I am perfectly happy exactly where I am.
Show Me the Money
Our 20’s can be a bit of a financial struggle for both men and women. We start the decade finishing college (and perhaps grad school), which often leaves us with crippling student loan debt. After that, we have to start building our careers, which means working entry-level jobs that don’t necessarily pay enough to even keep the lights on.
These years of tight purse strings are all part of becoming an adult, but they aren’t necessarily conducive to dating. In my 20’s, I went on my fair share of dates at McDonald’s (yes, someone took me to McDonald’s on a date) and discount movie theaters. I have also had plenty of dates stare at me expectantly when the bill comes (*eye roll*).
Don’t get me wrong, great dates don’t have to cost a lot of money. In fact, some of the best dates I’ve been on have cost next to nothing. Check out this blog for some creative, inexpensive date ideas in L.A. My boyfriend and I have been checking out some of her ideas, and we’ve had a ton of fun so far.
But I digress…
For a lot of us, our 30’s are the first time we have disposable income, so we are a little less constrained when we’re dating. That means we can (and do) still go on all of the awesome, low-cost dates, but we can also splurge on nice dinners and vacations together.
All in All…
Dating in my 20’s had its ups and downs, but dating in my 30’s led me to the best relationship I’ve ever had, and I don’t think that would have happened without all of the lessons I learned in my 20’s.
Has anyone else noticed a change in dating in your 30’s vs. dating in your 20’s?