If you’re already in your 30s, you don’t need me to tell you how much changes from your second to your third decade. Not only are you more settled into your career and friendships, but generally speaking, your 30s are a time when you start defining not only who you are and what you want, but you view being in a relationship differently too. While some people marry in their 20s, the average age of marriage is only getting higher, meaning that if you’re still dating and looking for love post-your 30th birthday, you’re approaching the whole thing with a renewed perspective.
And maybe more importantly, you’ve let go of what you thought might happen in your five-year plan of love and you’ve opened yourself up to a totally new future.
“In their 20s, women have this idea of exactly when things are going to happen and fall into place in terms of relationships, marriages, kids," psychologist Dr. Nikki Martinez, Psy.D., LCPC tells Bustle. “They date and get involved with people that might not be genuine long-term material. But in their 30s, they are calmer about when things happen, realizing not many things happen when and how we want and plan them to. We have had enough experiences that we know what we are and are not looking for, and what we will and will not tolerate.”
So what are some important ways to love changes in what many people consider the best decade of their life? Here’s what the pros say:
1. You Know You’re The Sh*t
After college, you likely spent a good five years trying to figure out your place in life: who will you surround yourself with? What type of friendships do you want? Do I like to cook? Who do I like to date? As you answered those questions — through trial and error and many lessons — you likely dated a few duds who broke your heart. Or you let a bad relationship put a sour disposition on your confidence.
But in your 30s, you’ve earned those strong stripes and you best of all, you know it. “In your 30s, I think you have a much better sense of who you are as an individual," Martinez says. "You have better self-esteem and sense of self, and you have a much clearer idea of what you are looking for in a mate. You are more established in your career, and you know what you want for yourself."
2. You Don’t Shy Away From The Big Talks
While you probably aren’t walking up to every potential partner and asking them a list of five questions to weed out the ones you don’t want to date, Martinez says that women in their 30s are quicker to cut to the chase and get to the point. “In your 30s, you’ve hit an age and stage in their life where they are willing to have those ‘deal-breaker’ conversations to understand what each person wants, and what they are looking for,” she says.
3. You’re Not Afraid To Walk Away
In your 20s, if you were looking for something serious, you might have felt like every new relationship would be ‘the’ relationship, and when things started to go south or you discovered qualities that didn’t sit well with you, it might have taken you a few months to pull the chord… just to make sure. But in your 30s, Martinez says you lose the fear and instead, move on faster.
“People at this age are more likely to walk away from a relationship that does not share common goals and future plans than they would have when they were younger,” she says. “They feel like they know what they want, and they know they don't want to waste time with something that is not going to go anywhere.”
4. You May Have A More Clear Idea Of How You Want Your Life to Look
In your 30s, you have a much firmer idea of what you imagine for yourself and your future life. Not only have you answered some tough personal questions about your viewpoints, career and life, but you also know what type of relationship you really want to have.
“In your 30s you know if you want to excel at a career, or be a stay-at-home parent," Martinez says. "You know if you want children, you know where a partner and career fall on your life of priorities,” This makes it easier for you to identify if a new relationship will work or not.
5. You’re Not Afraid To Build Intimacy
In your 20s, you’re learning the ropes of the whole love-and-sex tango. From what you like in bed to how you like to sleep with someone else in the bed, you had to experience a lot of things to determine what works for you and what doesn’t. Sex expert Coleen Singer says that in your 30s, you’re really ready to build and make time for intimacy.
6. You Focus On Communication The Most
Singer says that in your 30s, you’ve watched so many of your friends partner up and settle down, and you’ve been able to identify what has made their relationships strong and what has broken them. And a biggie for a relationship that makes it in the long run is how the two partners communicate with one another. Singer says that in your 30s, you’ll spend more effort and time focusing on healthy and mature communication.
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