What Being Single Is Like In Your Early 20s Vs. Late 20s

Blame it on living in a city, being single for a while, or a parade of rather disappointing prospects, but dating in your early 20s and your late 20s couldn't be more different. I still remember one of my first dates when I first moved to New York at the age of 21. He was a bartender at a sports bar that I went to for the sole purpose of meeting dudes my age. He was an 'ish' kind of guy: tall-ish, nice-ish, funny-ish, cute-ish. Everything about the city was glittery and golden then, though, so a dude expressing interest in me was enough of a reason for me to go out with him. Unsurprisingly, the date was fine-ish, and when I walked home from the train, tipsy off of cheap Bud Lights, I wondered how many OK-ish dates I'd go on and if I'd be single when I was old — ya know, like 26 or something.

Six years, hundreds of dates, one relationship, and many (many!) gin tonics later, what I look for in someone and what I put up with on a date has changed, um, quite a bit. I don't put up with ish-people, I don't have another drink if I don't want one and I'm not about to walk into a crowded sports bar so a guy can 'catch the game' while he meets me for the first time.

Some things get better with age — and maybe more importantly, some things (like me and likely you) get wiser:

1. At 23: Oh wow, their ex sounds like a complete nightmare. I bet they want to meet someone like me to refresh them.

At 27: Talking sh*t about your ex on a first date? Not cool. Relationship are two-ways streets, so what did you do wrong here?

2. At 23: Wow. They're 30. So mature.

At 27: They're 30? Wow, that’s young. I hope they're not immature.

3. At 23: Oh, they just THINK they don’t want a relationship. And they're not that emotionally wounded. They just haven’t really gotten to know me yet. I’ll show them!

At 27: It is so not my job to fix you. Call me when you’re ready for something real.

4. At 23: I. Must. Wait. Three. Dates. To. Sleep. With. Them, or they’ll never see me again.

At 27: Sometimes the best relationships start with amazing sex on the first date. Right?

5. At 23: Why didn’t they text me back?

At 27: Oh, OK. Not Interested. Next.

6. At 23: Oh, I guess I don’t need oral sex. They're probably just insecure down there.

At 27: Um, no. It’s give and receive!

7. At 23: I can’t WAIT to update my Facebook status to ‘In a relationship.’

At 27: There’s no way I’m updating my Facebook status.

8. At 23: You’re an unemployed, aspiring actor who works as a bartender? Wow. You must be so talented — and I get free drinks!

At 27: Get your sh*t together.

9. At 23: I hope they like me!!!!!!!!!

At 27: They're fine, I guess. But do I actually like them?

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