Thriving in the Thirties
As a twenty-something year old, it’s a bit difficult for me to describe my personal experience dating in my thirties. I had to tap into a good amount of research mixed with questions and interviews with thirty-somethings. And it seems to me that dating and being in a relationship in your thirties is kind of VERY different from dating and being in a relationship in your twenties.
One male friend (let’s call him Doug) described the thirty-something dating scene as “tough at first”. The dating scene in college was all about impressing a girl in the moment, Doug told me. All you had to do was impress her in some face-to-face interactions and you could tell if she immediately loved you or hated you. And I find that to be about accurate, as I definitely went for the guys I had physical conversations with, as opposed to a primarily texting conversation. For me it mattered how he carried himself and how he spoke about school or the pressures of graduating college because all of that was relatable. But apparently after graduating and growing up a few years (entering thirty-something territory), men have a harder time impressing women, as the mutual feeling of “pressures” subsides and the welcoming of a goal driven individual emerges.
Doug’s current girlfriend (let’s call her Olivia) laughed during the entire interview. She said she wouldn’t have dated him when they met at age 31 if he was still talking like a college boy. Olivia agreed, saying during college and the few years after graduation she was immature compared to where she is now with her relationship. Even after graduation, men and women were still feeling the pressure of getting a job and moving out of their parents homes (if they hadn’t already… which hardly anybody can afford right now). Olivia said it wasn’t until she turned 30 that she actually felt like she was able to solely support herself and that she was ready to settle down. The problem was she met a lot of thirty-somethings with the mentality of a college boy… talking about his cool job instead of letting her know his ten year plan and where he sees himself in the future. To Olivia, it was not and is still not about money, it’s about the security. Thank God she found that in newly grown adult, Doug!
Now that the dating is out of the way, we can get to relationships among thirty-somethings. It’s no surprise that the marriage age among adults has become older and older, with the economy in bad shape in the last few years. College tuition has skyrocketed so everyone and they’re mom, literally, is in student debt for the next twenty years after graduation. This stalls the savings on houses, engagements, weddings, and kids. It seems to be a double edged sword, though, because as men and especially women wait to get married, they fear the ability to have children at an older age. According to research, although it is normal and healthy to have children after the age of 31, that is also the age where the amount of a woman’s eggs greatly decreases.
With the debt, the later marriage, and the fear of having pregnancy troubles, women and men can find themselves “rushing” to date, be in a relationship, and to get married. BUT even with that influx of pressures, there is also a large grouping of women that do not acknowledge the “rush” and have actually chose to date younger men. According to a fabulous article on Jezebel, women find that they get to a certain age in their thirties where men their age are scarce (and I mean scarce in the sense of a normal, attractive, respectable, fun man). So these women decide to date younger guys, which they say actually works out quite well for them. These guys tend to be, “Sexier. Less likely to be controlling. More secure and self-confident. More comfortable with powerful women. Better listeners.” Whereas women have said that some of the older men or the men their age try too hard. The man, they say, seems to be absorbed in himself and his age (a mid-life crisis?!) and looks to feel youthful again. He then tries to impress the lady with his wallet, hoping to dazzle her with everything he thinks a young woman would want. To her reply, she is not impressed; she makes just as much money as him, if not more.
Okay, okay, well anyway, back on track!- a good way to continue down that path whether it be dating or already in an exclusive relationship, is by cohabitation – a lifestyle in which the man and woman live together. It is a way to test the waters before taking the next step. Which is something my mom tells me would NEVER have happened in her day. She said traditionally, a man and woman were not “allowed” to move in together until they were married. But she also said, with the changing social acceptances, she agrees with this lifestyle. It makes sense to “pretend” as an adult, because it forces both people to really take a look at the other, to share bills, to share living space, to spend a lot of time together. And I think that although Doug and Olivia described initial grievances about the dating scene as a thirty-something, they LOVE it. I think society has changed in a positive way, and all the rushing and all the fears should be put on the back burner. Stop end enjoy the thirty-something days!