Dating in your 30s can be light years better than dating in your 20s, as long as you make it that way. In your 20s, you’re still figuring out who you are and what you want, so it’s not unheard of to have a string of relationships that don’t work out. You were probably more likely to accept bad behavior from a date and keep dating them to see how it went. But by your 30s, a lot of things change. You now know what you want and know not to waste your time on anyone you don’t see a future with. You’re also way less likely to put up with games and waiting to see how things go.
But in order to make dating in your 30s better, you have to leave all the BS from your 20s behind. Here are seven ways to do just that:
Know what you’re looking for.
This means going into the dating scene with more clarity.
“The trouble is we tend to carry the same approach we used in our 20s into our 30s,” says relationship expert, Tiffany Toombs.
She suggests creating a list of 60 attributes that you want your ideal partner to have.
“Specify the gender, sexuality, and dating status (ie. single) of their ideal partner, as well as the personality characteristics they want them to have,” she explains. “This activates what is known as the ‘Reticular Activating System’ in the unconscious mind—also known as our filtering system, to seek out a partner who matches what we’re looking for.”
Don’t pretend to be something you’re not.
Don’t put your energy into faking a cool lifestyle or even a cool job. Lay it all out there for the person you’re dating.
“If they can’t handle it, you don’t need to waste your time on it. Do things on dates that you WANT to do. If you’re over the clubbing, partying, wild nights of your 20s, say so,”, says Kayla Lords, sexpert for JackandJillAdult.com. “Plus, instead of going along with whatever the other person suggests, tell them what you’d like to do instead.”
And she says, if you know it’s not going to work out, don’t pretend like it could. “After all this time, you’ve learned a thing or two about the fakes, posers, and people you don’t click with. Don’t force yourself to go when you know it’s not going to work.”
In your 20s, you typically don’t set boundaries because you’re figuring out what those boundaries are. “By the time someone is in their 30s they should be clear on what their boundaries are and feel comfortable setting them. This includes how they want to be treated, what type of behavior is and isn’t acceptable, etc. It’s important to set these boundaries early in a relationship so that no one is wasting their time if your views of the world or relationships aren’t compatible,” says Toombs.
Find out how your partners approach finances.
This may have gotten overlooked in your 20s. Perhaps you were okay with your date not having a real job, having loans, or always asking you to pay for dates because they had no money. But in your 30s, knowing where someone stands financially is more important.
“Money is one of the biggest perpetual problems couples face. If the person is carrying a lot of debt without a plan to get out or a job that can support that, you might want to keep looking,” says Beth Wylie, a licensed marriage and family therapist.
Plus, if they still live with their parents and aren’t saving for a move out, is this something you can really be ok with in your 30s? Different people get to where they’re going at different paces, so it’s not like everyone you date has to have all their finances perfectly in order. But when you reach your 30s, it is time to start thinking about it. If you’re at a stage in your life where you’re more stable in your own finances, being with someone who’s doesn’t even aspire to that same stability could become an issue.
Make sure you’re getting the attention you need.
In your 30s, you need to stop fighting for someone’s attention. Whether that’s waiting for them to call or text you back or being ok if the relationship isn’t defined. If you’ve been on a few dates and they’re still flirting with other people, it’s a sign they’re not really committed to you.
“If they’re not willing to make changes to make sure you feel comfortable, then they aren’t the one for you,” says Wylie.
Ask for what you want.
In your 20s, it’s easy to be unsure of what you want—in the relationship, in life, and in the bedroom.
“By the time someone is in their 30s they should have a strong understanding of what they want and need in a relationship. Instead of dropping hints, or expecting/hoping the other person figures it out or ‘just knows’ what you want, ask for it,” says Toombes. “You’ll find out what your partner and your relationship is all about quickly.”
This is great way to determine if you share the same interests, values, life plans, etc. And, if they’re reluctant to give you what you want or even try, move on.
Listen to yourself.
If you don’t think you and this person are a good match, but you’ve put a year into the relationship and are afraid to be alone or to start over, trust your instinct.
“Once you break it off, take time to think of what caused the relationship to go south,” says Wylie. “Was it how they responded to things? Was it that the person didn’t treat you with kindness and respect?”
Oftentimes, after time has passed, we look back at our breakups and realize we knew much sooner than we thought that things weren’t going to work out—only we ignored how we felt because we weren’t ready to hear it. Listen and be honest with yourself both during and after your relationships.
In some ways dating in your 30s, is harder than dating in your 20s. It’s not quite as free and casual, and it can be touch to meet people initially. But there are also a ton of benefits. You know more, you’ve experienced more, and so have your dates. Approach your dating with a little more thoughtfulness and intent, but don’t forget to have fun either. Because let’s not forget—you’re still young!