I was never a fan of the show thirtysomething when it use to air, but the fact that a TV series by that name could even be conceived and marketed indicated to me that perhaps your 30's yield more drama than any other decade in your life. Jay-Z came out with a song called 30 Something a few years ago that painted a picture that 30 is the new 20. He was referring to the fact that if the young cats in their 20's thought that they were the hottest sh*t out there, think again, because you can still be fire at 30, except with a little more wisdom and experience; you aren't poppin' bottles anymore, you can buy out the whole bar. Ideally that's the way it should work; you build your foundation in your 20's in order that you can start to enjoy the benefits of your harvest in your 30's. That could be in the form of now having several years invested in your career, working for a particular company, maybe have a few promotions under your belt, and now you can take some time to think about marriage and kids. Or maybe, you approached things inverted, focused on family first, and now that your kids are older, you can build your career without the guilt of absenteeism in their lives.
A common thread that I am seeing amongst all my 30-something friends (which represent about 85% of the people I know), is that personal lives are usually less intact than their professional ones. It is safe to say that a majority of us (sidenote: see how I never avoid placing myself in the categories to which I see fit?!) did indeed spend a lot of time on careers and skill development that 1st, 2nd and 3rd relationships perhaps took a backseat. But I was asked to write a little bit about what dating and relationships look like AFTER you've already kinda lived a little, and how it differs from when we were young, fresh and green.
Dating in your 20's:
- Guys who asked women out were (more often than not), genuinely interested in getting to know them and were legitimately "on the market" and available to date openly.
- Drove a respectably new entry-level 4-door like a Mazda 3 or a Honda Civic
- You could get up and go out on a date, and even make that naughty choice to spend the night (even on the first date) without being accountable to your parents or your children.
- Had less boundaries. Providing that money wasn't an issue, you could indulge extravagances to impress someone, and even if it did not materialize into any kind of long lasting relationship, you made memories of the experience (even if now you can't remember the person's first name).
- Everybody in your social circle and extended social circle was fair game because at this point, groups of friends were just merging either through meeting at university or returning home from one.
Dating in your 30's:
- Nobody is able to define their actual relationship status. Most are attached (but not content, so eyes are roaming), many have children with people whom they are still sleeping with but "Oh no, we're not together anymore but you know, we hold it down for the kids." (So really, I'm not supposed to be a little suspicious that you all are still sharing the same bed? For the love of God....) How about, the whole: "Are you married?" - "No, separated". - "So, you're still married." *eye stab*
- Best case scenario: drives a car that is a reflection of their status. Reality: drives a mini-van because how else do you tote your kids around to soccer practice, or doesn't drive at all and is back to taking public transit.
- You're probably not telling your children the truth about what your doing and where your going or even with whom. (Not out of shame, but more so that their loose lips can't repeat anything when they head to their other parent's house for the weekend).
- As you get older, your financial responsibilities increase, so unless you have a perfect income to expense ratio, chances are that you may actually have to settle for a few more McDonald's dates, lest you always go Dutch.
- You are probably now only separated from any given person in your social circle by one degree. In other words, all eligible partners have probably dated - fcuked - had babies with - or are/were married to someone that you know.
The advantageous thing about being in your 30's is that compared to your 20's, you probably have a clearer picture of what you want in your life. You've already gone the route of "settling" before, and realize that it's a recipe for disaster in the long-run. Nobody wants perfect (and trust me, odds are you won't get it), but more than likely if you can say you have forged a solid understanding of your potential partners strengths and weaknesses, you can make a much more informed approach to how and whom you want to spend the rest of your life with. In your 20's, the stigma of "what others think" is prioritized. In your 30's, it's more about "what you feel".
There is no statute of limitations on happiness and fulfillment. Wouldn't it be wise to spend 20 years with someone who completed you in every way, than 40 years with someone who only filled the cup halfway? Being in your 30's isn't so bad. You are still young enough and energetic enough to enjoy most of the same things you did when you were younger. If you played your cards right, then you could potentially be in the prime of your life. And if you've made some missteps, there is still time to correct those. But there is no shame in holding out for the right person. Trust that when you have...you will feel it in every fibre of your being.
P.S. If you couldn't relate to any of this post at all, then just look at it like this. $30 is the new $20 when you don't get your tickets to events on Early Bird Special. *kanyeshrug*