Saturday, September 30, 2023
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How Does Dating Change in Your 30s?

Dating, Plato once said, is like enlisting in a gangbang of rejection, lizard-tongue make-outs, and 2 am doom-swiping. It’s vulnerable, expensive, and time-consuming. Sure, when dating is great, it’s really great (love, sexual enlightenment, etc.), but when it’s bad it can feel oppressive—like you’re on an endless series of job interviews, applying for the position of “everything I want in life.” No pressure.

I spent the first half of my 30s in a long-term relationship. Having now been single for over a year, a friend recently asked me the seemingly innocuous question: So, what are you looking for? “Well…” I said, taking a deep, anticipatory breath. “I’m looking for a guy who’s ready to commit, who is handsome, kind, successful, fit, creative, funny, in therapy, taller than me, can fix things around the house, who wants a family but ideally doesn’t have kids yet, and who’s between the ages of 36 and 43—ya know, give or take a year.” My friend looked at me like he feared for my life. “So, you’re basically trying to hit the world’s smallest target?” he asked. 

“No,” I told him. “This is just dating at 37.”

Obviously, looking for love at any age has its issues. But for those of us who are allegedly fully fledged adults, I want to know: Does dating get harder after 30?

To preface this: I’ve always been a fan of dating. I love getting dressed up, sitting at a bar with a dirty martini, and getting to know someone new. I love the tension of, Will we kiss? Who will “accidentally” brush the other person’s leg first? Will I go back to his place to find the fridge stocked with more than just IPAs and mushroom chocolates? (The dream!) However, dating after 30 does bring new challenges. Namely, the dating pool is dwindling, your eggs are expiring, and you’re inching closer to death—plus, a bunch of other tired clichés that, annoyingly, are pretty spot on.

My friend Lauren Garroni recently got into a great relationship after years of being jaded about dating. She’s 35 and one half of the much-loved Every Outfit fashion podcast. She also has a lot of opinions about modern courtship. “Being on dating apps was the longest unpaid internship of my life,” Lauren told me with a dramatic eye roll. “When you’re single in your 30s, all your friends in relationships are like, ‘You have to give people a chance or you’ll never meet anyone!’ I went out with so many guys that I wasn’t excited about because I felt like I ‘should.’ I don’t even want to know how many hours of my life I’ve wasted on bad dates.”



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