When you’re at school or university, it feels like dating is the major thing on everyone’s minds. The best gossip, the deep chats… SO many of the conversations are centred around love, sex, and dating – no matter how ill-fated our exploits are at that age. And boy, are they?!
The truth is though, not everyone is actually dating that young. Many people don’t start dating until they are in their 20s and 30s. Plus, it feels like everyone else has had a head start and knows exactly what they’re doing.
One of my older friends, who didn’t have a relationship until a few months before her 30th birthday, stayed in that first horrible relationship for years. Why? Well at that age, she told me, she thought it was her only chance.
There’s no need to feel that way. Lots of people start dating later— and there’s no reason to put up with a crap relationship just because you’re not 21 anymore. So here’s what everyone in their 30s should know about dating.
Even though you haven’t dated before, you have had relationships with people in the form of family and friendships – and these have a lot in common. At that point [in your life], the best approach is to treat dating like making friends. You might be a newbie to romantic relationships but chances are you’ve had lots of platonic friendships in your past. You’re still navigating different emotions and dynamics, which you already know how to do. Plus, the person you date needs to be one of your best friends, so look for similar qualities.
One of the best parts about dating later in life? You’ve watched your friends F-ing their relationships up for years, right? It’s a lot harder to see our own mistakes than notice it in someone else, especially in dating. So think about your friends’ relationships. What do you wish you had? What looks awful? Follow in their footsteps and learn from their mistakes. You’ve got a lot of material to work with.
If you’ve waited a long time to date then, like my friend, you’ll probably have the natural inclination to jump at the first person who comes along. Fight that urge. You’re obviously looking for someone now but you should get out there, meet lots of people, and hold out until you meet someone who treats you well and whose company you enjoy. Serial dating is fun and you won’t know what you really want unless you’ve met a few different people.
To be honest, this is a little bit of advice everyone could use. Try not to put a huge weight on any potential dates or partner. You need to evaluate them and your chemistry together the same way you evaluated any new friends you might have made.
The bottom line? No matter what age you start dating, don’t settle. In fact, if you’ve been waiting a long time then it’s even more important not to just date the first person who comes along. And you should know that you definitely do not need to settle. The fact that you were single throughout your teens and 20s shows that you are confident and independent enough not to ‘need’ to be in a relationship. Knowing how to be happy when you’re single is such a huge skill, so don’t trade that in for anything less than something really great.
It can be difficult if you’ve been single for a long time when it feels like everyone else is dating around you. I get it, I was third wheelin’ for a long time. But lots of my friends didn’t get into their first relationships until their later 20s or 30s. It’s way more common than you think. So approach it logically and don’t settle, because there is something really great out there — and dating around is half the fun.