Dating in your 30s is a completely different beast than dating in your 20s.
Being in your 30s is transitional. You’re definitely not old, but, while you may still look like you’re in your 20s, you’ve definitely learned a few things in the past decade. You’re a little bit older, wiser and more mature, as are the people you date (or so you hope). Despite popular narratives about “cougars” (women who go after younger men), old maids and other so-called desperate singles, dating in your 30s can actually be really awesome – if you let it.
So, whether you’re reentering the dating scene as a 30-something or are continuing to hold down the fort, here are a few myths you need to stop believing right away.
- All the good ones are taken.
If you’re going to have any success dating in your thirties, this is the first myth you need to stop believing immediately. In North America, we’re now getting married later than ever before, which means lots of singles are opting to wait on marriage until they’ve found the right relationship. This is all to say that there are lots of really great single 30-somethings out there, just like you!
- Everyone has their life together by this age.
I’ve seen too many terrible apartments that look like the sets of Seth Rogan movies from the early aughts to know that not everyone will have mastered the art of adulting by their 30s. Sure, a lot of people will have good careers, be financially stable and understand how to use a vacuum cleaner, but this isn’t necessarily a given. Dating in your 30s, you’ll meet people who are in various stages in their lives. Some people might be extremely settled, others might be starting over after a huge life or career change. There will also be a select few who are still living like it’s freshman year. There’s no right or wrong way to live. However, if living off 29-cent ramen and getting drunk every night doesn’t do it for you, you are under no obligation to stick around.
- Everyone you meet is going to be ready for a serious relationship.
By the time many people reach their 30s, they’re thinking about marriage or, at the very least, finding a committed long term relationship – but not everyone. You’re going to meet lots of people on both extreme ends of the spectrum, from single folks who are looking for an instant relationship to people who aren’t interested in a commitment at all. However, you’ll also meet a lot of people who fall somewhere in between.
Keep in mind, just because you’re in your 30s doesn’t mean you can’t still be unsure of what kind of relationship you want. One day you may be searching for your soulmate. Then, your life circumstances may change and suddenly something more casual sounds like the perfect fit. Long story short: we’re all just trying to figure this out as we go along. Be attuned to what level of commitment you want and pay attention to what other people are looking for, so you can find what actually works for you at whatever stage you’re in.
- All your good years are behind you.
This concept is positively medieval and untrue. Dating in your 30s can actually be way better than dating in your 20s. Sure, you may have more responsibility and the stakes may feel higher, but you also know yourself and what you want out of life so much better than you did when you were younger. Not to mention, you’re more confident and have enough life experience to recognize situations and people that aren’t good for you.
- Dating apps are only for the kids.
Um, no. This is so not true. If you’re in your thirties or beyond, your life is probably pretty busy. You don’t have time to go to random bars hoping to meet someone special – nor do you want to – especially when you can find a better selection of people while swiping through your favorite online dating apps. The reality is that online dating apps are where everyone is hanging out, including people in your age group. Don’t knock ‘em before you’ve tried ‘em.
The sooner you let go of some of your preconceived notions about dating, the sooner you can actually get something of value out of your dating experiences. Age is just a number, as they say, but with that number comes a wealth of knowledge and experience that can help guide you, so use it wisely!