I spent the latter part of my twenties in a long-term relationship. While my friends were out there going on dates and having the dating experience, I didn’t have to. That relationship ended and I found myself single. After eight and a half years it was time to start dating again and I decided to enter the online dating world. Let me be clear, while there’s no age or gender discrimination when it comes to catfishing, ghosting or the hook-up culture, it’s been my experience as well as that of my single friends and clients that those things become increasingly more frustrating when you’re looking for a serious relationship while in your thirties. More often than not, we feel like we are running out of time for marriage and the opportunity to start a family.
So, here are some helpful tips that can take the pressure out of dating in your thirties:
1. What to do instead of ghosting or when you are being ghosted
I am a firm believer that it’s important to be honest when you aren’t interested in someone. I get that conflict and rejection can feel icky but so does being left in the dark after some sort of connection. It’s simple to say “Hey, it was good meeting you but I’m not feeling a connection, so I wish you well”. Afterall, we are adults and communication is key in any type of relationship. Now, if you’re being ghosted, please please please DO NOT keep texting the person. There’s a reason they aren’t being up front about how they feel and ask yourself, “Do I really want to be with someone I am begging for anyways?”.
2. Know what your boundaries are and be clear about what you’re looking for
I have a rule for myself with dating that I refer to as the three-date rule. Meaning, I try to give the guy at least three dates to see if there is a connection, unless there is something very clear on the first date that I am not comfortable with (eg: they don’t respect my boundaries, their core values conflict with my core values, etc.). The first date is typically awkward for everyone involved. So, there’s nothing wrong with giving a person more time to see if there’s something there.
Before you choose a dating app or go on a date, ask yourself some questions:
Am I looking for a relationship?
Am I looking to have a one-night stand?
Am I okay with kissing on the first date?
Is it important that we are the same religion?
Am I okay with dating someone that is divorced or has children from a previous relationship?
By asking these questions it can help you decide which sites you want to sign up for and the type of person you want to go out with. You’re the only one who can hold yourself accountable for what you want and what you do. Setting boundaries will also help send a clear message to the type of person you’re attracting and that you go out with.
3. Step out of your comfort zone and do something different
I am guilty of having a “type” for sure. However, the person we are attracted to isn’t necessarily the one that’s good for us for the long term. So, take the pressure off and date someone you wouldn’t normally date or go out to places you wouldn’t ordinarily go. This may include joining a different gym, kickball or sporting league, or a book club. I remember going to the beach during the daytime several years ago for a first date. I thought I may have lost my mind agreeing, but I had a great time. You never know if you like someone or something until you give it a shot, so go out and create some magical experiences.
With all that being said, dating isn’t a game of baseball. It’s not three strikes and you’re out of the game. In all honesty, dating sucks sometimes and other times it’s great. Just because society says you’re running out of time doesn’t mean you have to subscribe to that belief. Make dating fun for yourself and have some compassion. Journal about your wants and needs in a relationship, create a vision board about the relationship you desire and above all else, love yourself in the process.
Stephanie Savo is a licensed mental health counselor and anxiety therapist in Fort Lauderdale who has been practicing therapy since 2008. She graduated with her Master’s in Mental Health Counseling from Nova Southeastern University. Stephanie has experience working with adolescents and young adults. She has been working with adolescents and young adults who experience depression, anxiety, trauma, low self-esteem and worth, lack of identity and individuality, and who want to be empowered.