Finding Love in Your 30s

As a dating and relationship therapist, I’m often asked how a single woman can find love when she’s in her 30s. I’m now happily married, but I will never forget the angst I felt over being single when I was in my 30s.

It’s a complicated situation to be in. It can feel like you’re the only single person out there. It can feel like no matter what you do, you’ll never find someone to genuinely connect with.

People may accuse you of being too picky. Or worse, they lay it on thick with a sympathetic “Stop worrying. He’s sure to turn up when you stop expecting him to!”

Your parents keep asking you when you’re going to make them grandparents.

Everyone, including all of your exes, seems able to move on. Everyone, that is, except you.

Any one of those things can mess with your sense of well-being. But pile on two of them, or three, or more? Now you’re talking meltdown territory.

A lot of women are dating, but they’re still afraid they’ll end up alone forever anyways.

It’s certain that dating in your 30s differs from dating in your 20s. But if you approach it with the following things in mind, you might just be able to find love a lot sooner than you thought was possible.

Get Rid of Your Baggage

If you’re single and you’re in your 30s, you’re likely lugging around some form of emotional baggage. This may include trust issues, self-esteem issues, or fear that you’re going to lose your autonomy.

One big issue with all of that baggage is that it comes from old relationships. The fact that you’re still carrying it gives the impression that you expect your new partner to help you bear its weight. That’s like blaming your new man for what your ex did.

Is that fair? Of course it’s not!

If you haven’t worked through and moved on from the issues from previous relationships, you’re putting your new one in jeopardy. Besides, that baggage is yours and yours alone. You need to dump it for good so you can move forward unencumbered. Old issues that left unresolved will always find new ways to emerge.

Communicate Your Needs

Communication skills generally aren’t taught in school. If they were, our relationships would seem almost effortless! Many smart, successful single women aren’t honest with themselves when it comes to what they really want. If a guy with some level of standards comes along and treats you kind of nicely, your hopes may be raised. You hope that maybe you could change him. Or perhaps if you pour 110% into the relationship, he will, too. And when he doesn’t treat you like you’re hoping he will, you make excuses.

Maybe he’ll change. Or maybe he’s just distracted by something at work. Or, is possible that I’m too needy. And since you feel your time is running out, you convince yourself to settle for for something short of what heart is really yearning for.

You should find it unacceptable for a guy to be making just a half-assed effort when you’re giving it your all. But it’s not necessarily his fault if this happens.

It’s critical for you to communicate your needs. Men do want to please you. But they need your input and guidance regarding how they can do this. Just tell them.

Date with Purpose

Many women are afraid of asking for the level of commitment they’re seeking, because they don’t want to drive the guy away in fear. But you can communicate your needs and date with purpose, so you can quit wasting your time dating someone whose goals aren’t the same as yours.

The sooner you can understand how to communicate with men about relationships, the sooner you’re likely to find a long-term partner. You’ll come to the point where you’re able to know within just a few dates what his long-term dating goals are, if he has the potential to be “the one,” if the two of you share core values, and if the chemistry is being felt by both of you.

When you learn how to date with a clear purpose, you won’t need much time to discern if the guy is the one you’re looking for or not.

Bonus Advice from a Husband

When we met, my husband was also in his 30s. Before that, he’d also spent a great deal of time dating of 30-something women. I asked him to please share advice from a man’s point of view for 30-something single women looking to find their own “the one.”

  • Don’t date just to find someone to marry. If you spend all your time together telling him how much you want to get married, he’ll be forced to wonder if you really like him, or if you’re just looking for someone, anyone, to marry.
  • Make sure you have your own things going on. Have a life of your own. Women who love their lives are much more attractive to guys than women whose only goal is marriage. Create a life for yourself that you love so much, guys will notice and think, “I want to be part of that!”
  • Be yourself. Don’t expect someone else to fill the void you may have in you. That puts way too much pressure on a guy.
  • Don’t date someone because you think he has potential. If you’re going to date him, you need to accept him for who he is right now. Nobody likes hearing how they need to change in order to meet your expectations.
  • Place a higher premium on shared values than you place on shared interests. Values go much, much deeper. When I first met Lauren, I was kind of dating another woman. That other woman and I had many more common interests than Lauren and I did. But I came to realize that the values and the emotional connections I shared with Lauren were much more important.

tl;dr: Finding love at any age has a lot to do with your mindset, clearing out your old emotional baggage, knowing how to communicate your needs, and how to date with a purpose.