My mom has always said the happiest time of her life was her 30s — she cared less, loved more, changed, grew, and most importantly, she gained more confidence in who she was, without making any excuses. I’m still 2.5 years away from the big 3-0, but many of my friends — who I admire for their wit and wisdom — have already entered their fourth decade and have a lot of thoughts about their 20s.
Mostly, they’re glad they’re over.
And when it comes to dating, something big changes in your 30s: It’s when many people are in the beginning of their marriages, having and raising children, and overall, discovering more and more about what they won’t (and what they don’t). Sadly, there is no way to go back in time — no matter how many #TBT and #FBF photos are posted on Instagram — but there is a way to get a head start on falling in love in your 30s.
How? With these helpful tips from women who have already beat you to the punch:
1. Be Bold Enough To Be Direct
“Don't make assumptions! If you're unclear about how someone feels about you, summon up the guts to ask them.”—Madison
2. You Don’t Lose Your Beauty
“There is not an expiration date on your attractiveness! I can't tell you how many of my friends (mostly women) seemed to think that the day they turned 30, they'd immediately shrivel up and become the Wicked Witch of the West. Not only will that not happen to you (I promise!), there is an excellent chance that you'll end up looking and (due to increased confidence) feeling better than you ever did in your teens or 20s.”—Molly
3. Accept That Sometimes It Is About Luck
“Don’t forget that luck and timing are among the most important factors that go into making that forever connection with someone. Keep that squarely in mind when you’re tempted to wonder, 'What am I doing wrong?’ or ‘Why did it work out for so-and-so and not yet for me?’ Your perfect timing — or stroke of luck — might literally be tomorrow, whether you feel like you’ve formally set yourself up to succeed or not.”—Alice
4. You Have To Leave Your Apartment
“You're never going to meet anyone alone in your apartment. Don't put yourself out there just to meet someone, if you find singles events depressing or you hate online dating. But do get out in the world — talk to people, go places, learn stuff, try things. It's what makes you the kind of person your eventual partner will actually want to be with.”—Kate
5. It’s Cliche, But It’s True: Be Yourself!
“My only tip would be to just be yourself, since it’ll only end up coming out later anyway!”—Julia
6. Remember To Have Fun!
“If you are only dating [someone] because you don't want to be alone, or you feel like you are ‘supposed’ to be with someone at this point in your life — run the other way. Your time is too precious to waste on some guy/girl that you are only semi-into, that you don't trust, that makes you feel bad about yourself, or causes more stress than happiness. Remember, dating should be fun — especially in the beginning! — so if you’re not having fun, why are you doing it?”—Erin
7. Don't Rush
“Don't get so caught up in the end game (i.e., marriage, babies, or whatever it is for you). That takes all the joy out of the process. Those things will all unfold naturally if it's supposed to.”—Patty
8. Text Them If You Damn Well Please
“I think people need to stop standing on ceremony and playing games. If you had a good time on a date, you can text [them] and say thanks for the drinks — or that you had a good evening. Don't follow the 'rules' as to contact and calling. It's when we play games that things get harder than they need to be and [those] who respond to the playing of games are players. We don't want them anyway."—Aly
9. Stop Dating Unavailable People Right This Very Second
“[People] who aren't available — no matter how great the excuse is — aren't worth your time. The age old excuses of 'I really like you but I'm... ‘ or 'I'm super busy with xyz...' Do not matter. They're all excuses. Nobody likes excuses. If [they're] into you, [they] will show up.”—Christina
10. Remember, You Should Feel Wonderful
“Look for a partner who makes you feel like the most special person in the world, whether you're sitting next to each other or across the globe.”—Laura
11. Keep That Heart Open
“Be open to finding love when you least suspect it. Spend your twenties investing in yourself — living the best life you can fathom and cultivating yourself into someone with things to talk about, hobbies and passions, someone who has traveled and stretched beyond childhood comforts and familiarities. Get comfortable in your own skin and then you'll find a match who's really incredible.”—Taylor
Images: Fotolia; Giphy