There’s something magical about your 30s and it comes from all of the, ahem, bullsh*t you put up with in your 20s. When you enter your 30s, you know more about what you want out of life, love, and your career. You care less about the little things and more about the big things. And when it comes to dating, you’ve learned a thing or two from all of the dates of the past decade post-college and you’ve evolved your wants, desires and must-haves to be maybe a little less picky, but way more in tune to what’s truly important to you.
“In our thirties, people take dating more seriously — which can be a good and bad thing," relationship expert and therapist, Dr. Karin Anderson Abrell tells Bustle. "It's good because people try to avoid game playing and wasting each other's time but this desire can work against us if the pressure to settle down causes us to try to force a relationship that isn't meant to be or stay in a mediocre relationship just because we think ‘it's time’ to get married."
So if you’re approaching the big 3-0 with a big question mark over your relationship status, don’t stress, and instead, adopt these new dating habits recommended from experts if you're looking to meet someone. But first, check out the latest episode of "I Want It That Way":
1. Go On More Second Dates
Though your radar for butterflies is pretty well trained by now, it’s important to remember that no one will ever be perfect, and more so, they might not be the best version of themselves if they’re anxious. When you hear many happy couples talk about their now-successful marriage, they’ll say it was a slow-burn as opposed to a firework. “Be wise enough to know that first impressions are sometimes spot on... but other times they're completely wrong!,” Abrell says. “Nervousness and jitters can make people appear awkward or stiff when they're just getting to know you. Before writing someone off, give [them] another chance to get comfortable so they can show you who they really are.”
2. Initiate More Conversations
Those dating rules of who talks-to-who first? Well, they’re not rules anymore and for good reason: if you’re interested in someone, tell them! Dating expert and matchmaker, Sarah Patt tells Bustle a key to dating in your 30s is being in charge of your own destiny. And that means striking up conversation. “Don’t just put yourself out there, initiate conversations if you are interested in someone. Someone you’re attracted to may not have reached out to you for a multitude of reasons!,” she says. “Maybe they are shy, intimidated by rejection, or don’t have an immediate attraction, but you never know what could happen unless you say ‘hi.’”
3. Consider If It’s Really A Deal-Breaker
OK, so your date doesn’t dress that well. Or maybe he can’t remember to be quiet when he closes the door in the morning behind him. Or she doesn’t have completely, totally perfect teeth. In your 30s, it’s more important to focus on what matters to you and let go of the insignificant things that don’t matter when it comes to a long-term partner. “Never settle for anything other than an extraordinary relationship. Period. But that being said, be sure you're not closing yourself off to a potentially great match due to silly deal-breakers,” Abbrell says. “Examine your ‘list.’ If you insist on dating a guy who's over 6' 2" with a thick head of hair, you may miss out on a smart, loyal, funny 5' 9" balding guy who would love you to pieces!”
4. Write Down What You’ve Learned — And Apply It
While there's nothing waiting for you in the past (so you should probably stop looking) — you can take a glimpse back to see how far you’ve come since you started dating to begin with. Consider your relationships — the good ones, the bad ones, the almost ones, the fun ones — and write down how those experiences have changed you. This milestone can be a turning point that changes how you date. “Date smarter in your 30’s. You can learn from the mistakes and experiences that occurred with your past loves. Also remember that you are a different person than you were in your 20s, so you should expect your relationships to be different as well,” Patt says. “See the maturity in your relationship and make sure it’s special and just what you want before committing both emotionally and intimately.”
5. Walk Away From A Relationship Confidently
With your Facebook feed full of sweet babies, smiling wedding photos, and honeymoons — being single in your 30s may make you feel like you’re late to the party if you want to get married. While everyone worries, jumping in a relationship that isn’t good for you isn’t going to serve you. “Friends get married and start their families and we may wonder when it'll be our turn. In efforts to ‘catch up,’ we may be tempted to stay with someone just to have a someone,” Abbrell says. “But setting for a mediocre relationship (or marriage!) isn't the answer.”
6. Don’t Let Loneliness Cause Panic
So you want to cuddle with someone while you binge watch. And you’d like to have a date to the dozens of weddings you’re invited to. And maybe, OK, you want to not pay so much in rent and instead, split it with someone. We all feel lonely sometimes, but don’t let that sadness turn into panic. When you’re single in your 30s, it’s important to maintain the key to putting yourself out there: optimism! “Stay positive, happy, and hopeful when solo (knowing that it's your job to make yourself happy anyway) and when the right one comes along, they will just be icing on the cake,” Abbrell says. “And sure, you may sometimes feel lonely but remember, no one is lonelier than someone who feels alone in a marriage. So don't let panic cloud your decision making!”