For many of us, Disney introduced us to romance. Around the age of 4 or 5, we learnt that good guys were good-looking, being nice was the best thing you could be, and everyone has a soulmate – you just need to wait for them.
Well, we wouldn’t be IRL if we didn’t rain on that parade would we?
So, here’s a few harsh truths I’ve learnt about dating in my 30s.
Maybe it’s an open secret already, but I thought this needed saying. The more money you earn, the more attractive you are. Period.
In fact, money is so important that if you don’t make enough of it past a certain age, it’s a deal-breaker for most women.
This went against everything movies and books taught me about relationships growing up. Back when I was a budding teenager, if anyone considered money as a factor in a relationship, well, she was a shallow, materialistic bitch.
Today, I’ve personally come across Tinder profiles that wrote “If you’re a freelancer or don’t have a stable job, please swipe left!”
And you know what? I’m not even mad. I get it.
As you get older, you’ll be spending more money, no matter how hard you try not to. Your 30s is about the time you start to raise a family, apply for a property loan, or just try to recover from all the financial damage you made in their 20s (read: me).
So for older women, it makes perfect sense for her to not want to date someone who’s broke. I mean, why should she? Having money is an integral part of being an adult. If you can’t provide for her now (or at least hold up your end of the bills), then what kind of future does she have to look forward to?
And this isn’t just conjecture – a friend of mine recently made a profile at a dating agency, and he told me that the agency no longer shared a candidate’s annual income.
Apparently, it was too much of a factor – women were much more willing to date a person with a bigger annual income, regardless of their actual personality match.
The hard truth is that money does matter. So men, if you want make dating easier in your 30s, trust me – start working on your financial security now.
I don’t just mean start a savings account – you need to start charting your career path too. Start evaluating your job and plan for the future.
Will you be earning more when you’re older? Is it time to switch to something which pays more? Can you raise a family with what you’re earning now?
If you feel you’re not financially secure enough to raise a family, then start making changes now. Trust me – it’s better to prepare sooner rather than later.
Here’s another inevitable truth of dating in your 30s…
The pool of candidates shrink as you get older
This applies to both genders, even men. As you get older, fewer people want to date you.
There’s a whole lot of reasons for this – you’re perceived as being less healthy, less attractive, and/or the age gap just gets too awkward.
For women, being single when you’re older is stigmatised. People assume there must be something wrong with you.
“Why hasn’t she gotten a boyfriend/ husband? There must be something wrong with her.”
“So old already lah! Can still make baby ah?”
“Single mom? No thanks!”
This goes for men too. Unless you’re financially well-off, and/or managed to somehow prevent your hairline from receding, a lot of younger women prefer dating men under 40.
Some of my girlfriends tell me some of the horror dates that they had. One mentioned how she discovered that the guy she was on a date with was in his 40s, and she never answered his calls again after.
Another friend of mine who’s a fitness model thought she was too old, and nobody would want to date her anymore – she’s in her 30s.
It’s unfair, but hey, what can you do? You can’t force attraction. People like what they like, and the consensus is that you become less attractive as you age.
So what can you do to stop the ravages of time on your youthful good looks? Besides healthy living, I got nothing.
But here’s what you can do instead – date.
If you’re still single, date as much as you can now, regardless of your age. Why? Because you’ll never be younger than you are right this moment. No one ages backwards, and no one lives forever, so why not try to have some fun and connect with another person (or many persons) while you still can?
After all, Life’s too short to doubt yourself.
Here’s another thing I’ve learnt about dating in my 30s…
Dating is a lot of work and effort
I don’t know why, but a lot of people believe that their soulmate is out there, and they just need to wait for them. They believe that everything comes in good time, and you just need to be patient.
Well, here’s a story of my ex-colleague.
She was somewhat of an athlete in her younger school days, but she had an accident which forced her to stop all physical activity. She recovered physically, but never mentally. Over the years, she became sedentary and gained weight. The last time I saw her she must’ve weighed at least 90 kilos.
She’s a shy person, and somewhat of a hermit. She’s the proverbial ‘cat lady’ who owns like 30 cats and doesn’t have many friends. She’s 40+ years old and has worked for more than a decade at the same job, doing the same routine and meeting the same people.
This was a picture I took of her during the company annual dinner. Or at least close enough.
But she’s still waiting for her prince charming.
I know this because one day she got upset when a palm reader told her that he could see nothing in her future about romance. She demanded that he gave her a second reading – which yielded the same result.
She told him, “But how can that be? I must be meeting him soon!”
Previously I thought that she made a conscious choice about being single. It turns out that she’s just been waiting for the love of her life to show up.
If that sounds like you, then here’s my advice – don’t wait anymore.
Now that I’m in my 30s, I realise that dating is a lot like job interviews. You can’t afford to be passive, especially if you’re a guy. You have to always be actively meeting new people.
This means signing up on dating sites, doing more social activities, and going for parties and social gatherings.
Yes, I know that sounds like an ordeal, especially for introverts. But if you want to find a date who would hopefully become something more in the future, then you gotta put yourself out there. If you never go out of your comfort zone, then nothing will ever change.
Like my ex-colleague.
Here’s the final point I learned about dating in your 30s…
Many of them won’t work out
Modern dating isn’t like traditional dating. It used to be that our parents would know each other from school, dad would ask mom out, they dated a couple of months, and then got married and had you.
Well, things have changed.
Our modern-day Disney.
Today we have the luxury of choice. We’re not limited to just the people in our circles. Now you can meet anyone from anywhere in the world. Singles don’t have to settle for what’s immediately around them anymore.
Don’t get me wrong, this is great for finding better matches and finding a better fit for you. But consequently, because of this luxury (or illusion) of choice, it feels like there’s always a better candidate out there.
Daters don’t feel like they have to make anything work anymore – if you don’t like this person, just go on Tinder and find the next one.
So now, dating’s much harder. It’s become a number’s game – you have to go through a lot of them just to find someone who’s a good match.
If it sounds like a lot of work, well it is.
But it doesn’t mean it’s not also a lot of fun. Dating people teaches you a lot about yourself and others and is a great tool for self-improvement. Personally, after going on a lot of (failed) dates, I now feel a lot more confident. I learnt not to expect anything, and just take things as they come.
It’s actually quite liberating.
So rather than see it as a lot of work for no payoff, why not take it as an experience to hone your social skills and improve your network?
At the end of the day, dating’s not a big deal. Sure, it’s harder after your 30s, but not impossible – you just need to put yourself out there.
For more stories like this, read What I Wish I Knew About Love and Relationships in My 20s and The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Dating Women in Their 30s According to 20 Year-Old Guys.