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Dating Habits to Ditch After 30

A woman in her 30s on a date.

So you’ve hit the big 3-0 (either recently or some time ago), and you’re navigating the waters of dating. Maybe you find yourself suddenly single after a long-term relationship ends. Perhaps you’ve been a veteran of the dating scene since your 20s. Either way, you’re still looking for the right partner and trying your best to leverage your past experiences to get it right.

With new professional and personal experiences behind you and new priorities going forward, you can’t use the same tricks and standbys you did in your 20s. Zoosk asked a number of dating and relationship experts which dating habits men and women should do away with once they enter a new decade.

Having impossible expectations. The paramount thing to ditch when you turn 30 is “a ‘shopping list’ of traits for people you want to date,” says psychotherapist and relationship coach Toni Coleman. You’ve lived and matured, and you’re looking for people with similar life experiences—which means they may not have every item on this list.

Gina Stewart from Expert Online Dating puts it another way: “Daters need to start relaxing at least one area they staunchly opposed to dating in their 20s. It could be to date people who have kids, are divorced, have tattoos, smoke, live more than 25 miles away, have a few extra pounds, are losing their hair, aren’t a certain height, aren’t a certain age range, etc… Not that you have to change all of these things, but you need to start relaxing some search parameters that don’t have anything to do with your partner’s character and personality. People are changing post-30, including you. Start being open to new things.”

False advertising. By the same token, women in their 30s must acknowledge their true selves and not try to fool a potential partner. Make sure your pictures aren’t more than five years old. Have children? Mention them on your profile. Don’t claim that you love yoga or that you’re athletic, if you’re actually not. Couples therapist and dating coach Tricia Bennett sums it up: “Don’t allow a man take you out on a date under false pretenses. You’ll both end up being disappointed.”

Dating for the wrong reasons. “Stop looking for someone to complete you,” says Marina Sbrochi, IPPY Award-winning author of Stop Looking for a Husband: Find the Love of Your Life. “Now that you are 30, you know better, so you do better. You know that you have to love yourself and be free of past drama to have a successful relationship.”

Obsessing over everyone else. A big step toward presenting your best self is to not get caught up worrying about where your peers are. Chicago-based dating expert and matchmaker Stef Safran says, “Stop comparing yourself to others and assuming everyone else who is married settled.” Just because someone is or isn’t in your situation doesn’t make them better or worse off.

Not communicating your needs. Your wishes, anxieties, and comfort level all matter, but you can’t expect someone you’re dating to pick up on them immediately. “Stop assuming that men (or women) can read your mind,” Safran says. “They can’t. Be assertive about your feelings before they become issues.”

Settling. Coleman advises that women interested in a relationship not engage in casual arrangements that have no future. Much as they may be trying to be flexible, or think that something casual could turn more serious, by not communicating the type of relationship they’re actually looking for, they’re wasting their time.

Being passive or unrealistic. Stewart says that people over 30 “need to take some ownership that things aren’t always going to fall in line a certain way. For women, that means don’t hold on to certain invisible conventions that men have to follow to courting you online. Be bold, be friendly, and be open to meeting people who seem nice. Women in their 20s may get to play the princess in the tower, but after 30 women should be strong enough to find their prince themselves.”

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