I read somewhere recently that 82% of people marry their high school or college sweetheart…..leading readers to believe that if you have not met “the one” by the time you leave college, your chances of meeting a suitable partner drop dramatically. While I took this “statistic” with a grain of salt (and you should too), it challenged me to think about what dating looks like in your thirties (and beyond).
Many people are getting married and having children later in life while they focus on building their careers, continuing education, getting their money right through entrepreneurship, or really just being more selective as online dating and social media makes the availability and access to more choices easily accessible. But what about when you do find someone who intrigues you enough that you want to know more? Here’s what I have learned about dating in your thirties:
1) We no longer are OK with wasting time.
Either we’re doing this or we’re not. If one person is still all about going to the club, cheating, non-committal, etc., we no longer have the time or patience to play along. By this age we know what we want, what we are worth and what we are willing to put up with. Although it is harder when you meet someone who you think really fits the bill, if they are not on the same page we need to move along.
2) Priorities need to be aligned
Similar to above, fancy dinners, gifts and Netlfix & Chill is cool, but what are we doing to build the future we claim to be working towards? Are we travelling and building enriching memories and experiences we can share with our children? Expanding our mind and knowledge of self? How are we learning and growing? What focus have we put on our future? Are we saving for a down payment on our new home or investment? In the words of the infamous meme: “Are we traveling & buying property? Cause I got sh*t to do besides f**king and eating out”. Truth.
3) We’ve gotta be flexible.
Gone are the days when our pool was so large we could afford to keep that detailed list of “must haves”. Certain criteria such as your partner not having children or not being divorced may no longer be likely. There are definitely people out there who WILL fit those checkboxes, but it is expected that in our thirties our potential partner may come with a bit more baggage than if we met them at 21. At no point settle. But do be willing to look at your “must haves” and ask yourself if the list is keeping you from what could be a great person.
4) You’ve gotta deal with your stuff
A few weeks back we talked about being ready for love. Make sure you have dealt with your baggage and issues that might be keeping you from really connecting with a great partner. Leave the past in the past and focus on the great opportunities ahead. You are successful, smart driven and know what you want in a man or woman. Don’t let bad experiences taint your opinion of the next one and start you off on the wrong foot.
5) Don’t rush
While it seems counterproductive to point number 1, don’t rush into anything!! Knowing what you want and what you are willing to put up with is necessary. You don’t want to waste your time on someone who does not want the same long terms goals as you. BUT. Don’t put so much pressure on getting to the finish line you miss the present. Enjoy your moments together. Don’t set unrealistic milestones in your head for your relationship (he better propose within 8 months!!) and miss really getting to know your new partner and building a strong foundation.
6) Don’t stop needing each other.
While we get used to being independent and excel at what we can accomplish on our own, we need to realize that our black men need a black woman in their lives and our black women need their black men. What we can do together can far exceed what we can do on our own. Ladies, don’t get comfortable in the I don't need a man voice. Fellas, stop saying you don’t need the hassle of a woman and just keep a “buddy” on call. Let that guard down and realize that while independence is great, and we should all be sure we can stand on our own two feet emotionally, financially, etc., nothing beats the feeling of a healthy partnership. It is inherent in our biology as humans to need another.
Dating as you enter and through your thirties can be full of so much fun and discover. Ignore the media messages that tell you that life is over, the pool has dried up and it will be you and your puppy or 4 cats. Embrace all you have to offer and go out there with confidence. What’s better than being able to learn from all your experiences and mistakes of your 20’s to make this your best time yet!