Everyone wants to know the key to dating successfully once you cross into the land of Thirtyville. See, Thirtyville represents more than an age, it’s a time in our lives when we’re expected to have more clarity, greater stability, and a deeper sense of self.
Our thirties are the manifestation of all the growing, building, and learning we (supposedly) did in our twenties. We should reap benefits of sowed seeds and have everything fall together nicely in our lives. But so often that fails to be the case. Most of us are dissatisfied with our careers, having chosen bigger paychecks over passion and purpose. Meanwhile, many remain actively engaged in the dating game wondering when and if we’ll ever find The One (or at least someone worthy of the title ‘Runner Up‘).
So what’s the real deal with Thirtyville? Why isn’t it akin to a promised land of milk & honey? Why are we still struggling to answer questions thrown at us a decade ago? While I don’t know everything about dating, I know a few things. Some were conceived from disappointments and poor decision-making, while others were born from investigation and introspection. Nevertheless, here are 3 major reasons we struggle with dating after 30…
3 Pitfalls of Dating After 30
1). Increasing & Diverging Expectations
You know those “basic” things you assumed every guy knew? Well, here’s the secret. Those things aren’t basic anymore. Days of gentlemen opening doors, picking up the tab, picking you up on time (if they pick you up at all), or bringing flowers are remnants of the past. There’s a noticeable push-pull dynamic in dating after 30. By this age, most women have had at least one guy treat her fairly well and demonstrate what’s possible. And as the saying goes, “once you’ve been treated right, it’s hard to go back to bull–.”
On the other hand, guys have spent years paying for flowers, food, and gifts only to find themselves still wondering if a woman deserving of their best actually exists. As a result of their own disappointment and feelings of resources wasted, men have pulled back. Some appear outright lazy in matters of love. So, while women may be expecting more, some guys are offering less. Therein lies the conundrum.
2) Accomplishments – Yours & Theirs
Regardless of gender, once you reach a certain level of personal success, it’s natural to become more discriminating in dating. Especially when dating after 30, women feel more entitled to certain things because of who they are, what they have’ve done, and how they’ve done it (for example: becoming a Marketing Vice President by the age 35). Subsequently, successful men find it easy to simply walk away when what a woman offers isn’t aligned with their ideal. Why should anyone have to compromise? It’s another example of the ever-present push-pull.
If we crossed into Thirtyville having achieved the aforementioned accomplishments, we assume all age-appropriate suitors have done the same. When a woman finds herself owning, making, and running things – watch out. We get used to our world – our house, our rules, our life, and our definitions of right and wrong. So, when a man comes along and isn’t where we believe he should be, it’s incredibly difficult to see him as an equal (if we ever will), let alone head of (our) household. We tend to fault him for not having the same boxes checked as we do because in our minds, not having what we have means he didn’t do things the “right way.”
3. Baggage, Baggage, Baggage.
We’re all walking around cloaked in the lessons of our pasts . Different relationships taught us different (sometimes the same) lessons. We’ve learned, forgotten, and re-learned things that while nicely organized and captured in dating books, could never be mastered. Now, we unknowingly have layers upon layers of “life” around us and on top of us. Every opinion, assumption, judgment is the result of some event in days or years prior. So it’s clear to see how this makes dating after 30 more difficult.
When we interact with a romantic interest, we’re not merely interacting as two people. We’re interacting as two experiences: two lifetimes of broken promises, regrets, distrust, fear, or whatever else that weighs you down. The more years you participate in the sport of dating, the more baggage you accumulate. While our twenties may not have been the easiest time, we had fewer experiences and therefore, less baggage. Ironically, we expect more clarity and stability dating after 30, yet rarely consider how “tainted” we’ve become.
Let’s hear from you: How has your experience with dating after 30 been? Have you experienced any of these pitfalls?
This post was written by Renita Bryant. She is the author of the critically acclaimed novella, Yesterday Mourning. You can follow her on Twitter and read her thought-provoking blog, Renita’s Mynd Matters, on life & relationships.