I was somewhere around the age of 12 or 13 when I came up with my first checklist of what I wanted in a partner. Written in purple ink, the list included several non-negotiable items: my ideal partner would have to love Nirvana, would have to buy his clothes at Urban Outfitters, would have to think The Godfather III was total trash, and would have to be an artist of some sort. Although I got rid of the Urban Outfitters requirement after about age 23 or so, the other items remained important throughout my 20s (I couldn’t dream of dating someone who didn’t love the same music as me). But as I entered into my 30s, my checklist became less and less of a focus. In fact, the man I eventually married couldn’t care less about Nirvana.
From our 20s to our 30s, our expectations for ourselves and others change drastically. What was once deemed important around 23 usually no longer feels that way even five years later. We put more stock in the future as we get older and our superficial desires become less and less pressing.
If you’ve ever had a romantic checklist, I’m sure you’ve noticed a shift as you age as well. And if you're wondering what to expect, here’s how your checklist changes from your 20s to your 30s.
20s: You want to date that person who everyone agrees is absolutely gorgeous.
30s: Attraction matters, but you want beauty on the inside most.
20s: Your soul mate and you would want to have sex at least 5 times a week.
30s: Five times a week? What are you trying to prove? (Also, soul mates don't exist.) You want quality over quantity.
20s: As long as they don't still live with mom and dad, they're dateable. You can forgive the three roommates.
30s: You really want to be with someone who has their own place and has upgraded from Ikea to West Elm. Their bathroom MUST be clean.
20s: You want someone who, at the very least, owns one nice shirt.
30s: You want to know that when you leave them to their own devices they can easily dress for any situation.
20s: You want someone who knows how to party.
30s: You want someone who’s respectful, knows sexist jokes are wrong, and is often equated with the term “super nice.”
20s: You're pretty sure any differences will wear off eventually.
30s: You have a list of political issues that are potential deal breakers.
20s: Enjoying the same movies and loving the same music seems like the stuff that really holds a relationship together.
30s: It's more important that you share an interest in each other.
20s: You want someone who can charm your friends and someone who can hold up their end of a conversation at a party.
30s: You want someone who can charm your friends, family, and who thinks playing with your nieces for hours is totally awesome.
20s: You hope that your partner makes enough money that you can have the occasional weekend getaway.
30s: You hope your partner has a 401k.
20s: You’re looking for someone who gets a weekly paycheck and has goals to break into their desired industry.
30s: You’re looking for someone who has a career and not just a job (yes, there is a difference).
20s: You want someone who can say “I love you.”
30s: You want someone who cannot only tell you they love you, but why. You also want someone who loves themselves.
20s: Finding someone whose family doesn't loathe you and vice versa would be stellar.
30s: Finding someone whose family feels like home is essential. You want to be able to call their mom for advice, hang out with their sister, and know exactly what to get their dad for his birthday.
20s: You’re hoping that they’ll be around long enough to get you through the whole slew of weddings you have this summer.
30s: You’re hoping they’ll be around long enough to change your diaper when you’re 95.