It’s Not At All Different…Except it Totally Is

A week or so ago, one of the young fellas I follow on Twitter asked about the difference in dating after you’re 30.  It was perceived as a soft launched missile, but it made me think to myself, “Yeah…what is the big damn difference?  Wait a second…is there a difference?”  And the answer is yes.  Dating as a 35 year old woman is far different than dating as a 25 year old woman.  But not for the reasons you think.

Though I didn’t expect a grand revelation on my 30th birthday, I thought that my experiences would improve.  I’m older, so I will meet older, more serious-minded fellas.  Sounds good, right?  Allow me to introduce you to two facts of life:

  1. With age comes experience.  Unfortunately, this does not mean that with this age and experience will come the insight to benefit from what one has learned.  In certain aspects of life, age really is just a number; and,
  2. There is a large segment of the 20-something male population, who enjoys nothing more than getting his smang on with a “seasoned vet.”

So here we are, right back where we started.  We’re not only dealing with the 20-somethings we THOUGHT we abandoned in our 20s, but we’re also dealing with the less than mature over-30-somethings.  Adding insult to injury, these are the same immature over-30-somethings that our younger 20-something selves laughed at for being “too old to act that way.”  Now he’s your peer.  And was quite possibly your prom date.  Awesome.

But, what about the differences I mentioned?  Well, here they are:

  1. “Do you have kids,” becomes a polite and perfunctory question.  It’s code for “How many kids do you have?”  It’s not that everyone in their 30s has kids – it just seems like it.  It takes the strength of Sampson to stop your eyebrows from lifting in shock when the answer is no.
  2. Everybody has advice for you.  Suddenly, dating has become a team effort.  I know for an absolute fact that I managed to date successfully for years without a tribunal.  Now everything requires a decision by committee.  And no matter what you do, the committee is against you.  Girl where yall going? Oh I wouldn’t have gone to that restaurant. How did you meet him? Oooh…there? Who paid? He did? He probably wanted to get some? Did he try to get some? He did? Ugh. You gon’ give him some? No? Why not?!  Well why ain’t you talking about him? For someone you just met, you don’t think you’re talking about him too much? Are yall doing okay? Seriously.  They’re all well meaning, but it’s a bit much.
  3. The dudes in your age range either never want to get married, or they want to get married three weeks ago.  The happy medium is rare. One the one hand, you’ve got the dudes who have been hurt/are fearful of commitment and flat out don’t open up.  Often, there’s some chick out there that still has her hooks in him, whether he wants to admit it or not, and it prevents him from establishing new attachments.  In the other case, a dude may have enough self-awareness to know who he is as a person.  That’s fine, but he still doesn’t know me, or how he will react/relate to my brand of shenanigans.  “We ain’t gettin no younger, we might as well do it” doesn’t even sound good in that “Let’s Get Married,” song, let alone real life.
  4. The night of your most awesome date ever, the one where you abandon all of your hangups and decide that you are going to give him all the goodies on the first night, your period is going to start.  It doesn’t matter what the calendar says.  Your body starts staging little mutinies around 31, letting you know it gives not one solitary damn about your plans, goals, happiness or (largest of all) sex life.  It’s gonna happen. You will deal.
  5. You have to combat the urge to over-think EVERYTHING.  Well what did he mean when he said see you later?  Later tonight?  Like tomorrow later?  I have things to do tomorrow!  Wait…my schedule just freed up! Did I allude to being busy?  What if he won’t call because he thinks I’m busy?  Did he call? What if he calls?  Is Sprint tripping?  Am I getting all of my text messages? What if he doesn’t like receiving texts?  Can he read?  I never asked?  OMG AM I OVER-THINKING THIS!?!?!  Yes, fool.  You are, now chill out.  Things are going to be what they are going to be.  Be yourself, not your representative, and if it doesn’t work out, then you know that it’s a compatibility issue, and not something you created in your mind.

Whether you’re dating in your 20s, 30s, 40s or beyond, people are people.  Neither the players nor the game have really changed.  The only thing that does change is your perspective of them.  I’m not here to tell you how to score your next boo.  There doesn’t seem to be a true formula for that.

Here’s what I do know:  If you view dating as this horribly tragic activity, then you will always attack (and attacking is NEVER a good thing, unless you are a mother lioness eying the last antelope on the plain) dating with a sense of desperation.  If you see it as a meaningless thing, then you shouldn’t be surprised if you make a bunch of meaningless connections.  But my experience tells me that if you go into it open-minded treat people like humans rather than assembly line numbers, at the very least you’ll connect with some great folks.  Honestly, who doesn’t have room for decent, fun people in their corner?

5 responses to “It’s Not At All Different…Except it Totally Is

  1. Ooh! I agree SO whole-heartedly…especially about the overthinking part. I tell some of my female friends all of the time that though they should have their bs-meter running, sometimes guys can actually articulate what they actually mean. We’re not very complex creatures. Heck, you ladies are actually quite often exponentially smarter, and if we “fool” you, it’s oftentimes b/c you really just wanted to believe our bs.

  2. Did I ever tell you about the time that my former junior high school teacher tried to force me to come clean (about kids I didn’t have) on 125th street which morphed into her backhandedly calling me gay? Folks can not accept that over 30 does not equal tried to single handedly repopulate the earth in my 20s.

  3. Oh lawd…why oh why does every interaction have to begin with that damn “how many kids” question???? So annoying. And for me, it seems like I can’t fucking win. When I say “none”, I get the “what the hell is wrong with you” look of confusion, as though I’m either one of two things: not a REAL woman because I don’t want to be a mother; or probably a real DESPERATE woman who wants to hurry up and have them. Ugh.

    • There are so many different ways you can give love, I hate that people see not wanting to be a parent as a shortcoming. My sis has no desire for kids, and she’s one of the most loving people I know. And the bio clock thing is real too. I think that people put all these “bucket list” assumptions on us as the over 30 set.

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