If you ask an adult in their 30s about their dating expectations, they are different from those of an adult in their 20s.
As you grow, priorities change and life happens, which affects your expectations in general. There’s also the aspect that you don’t have so much time on your hands, which affects the decisions you make.
Did you have any dating expectations in your 30s? If yes, were your expectations met in reality?
I will use some of my relatable dating expectations and the shocking realities I learned in my 30s.
Keep reading to learn them and get answers to commonly asked questions regarding dating expectations at the end.
What were Your Dating Expectations in Your 30s?
Like most things in life, dating expectations in your 30s are not the same as in your 20s. Some of my expectations were:
The next relationship will be permanent
You don’t have as much time to waste in your 30s as in your early 20s. As you try to align everything in your life, you hope and expect the next relationship to be permanent.
Your clock is ticking, especially if you’re a woman. And you already have an idea of the number of children you want. You even have a schedule for when, given your age, you should have each child.
Besides, priorities in your 30s change. It’s not about who travels more or parties a lot, but who has a stable dating life or marriage.
And if you don’t have all these already, you hope and wish that your next relationship will be something that leads to them.
People in the dating pool will be clear about what they want in a relationship
In your 20s, you’re still juggling life and figuring out what you want in a relationship. And as you grow into your 30s, you’re expected to have figured that out.
You also have experiences from other relationships, and I expect you learned from them. And if you were the problem, you’ve worked on yourself and currently understand yourself better.
That means you will be clear about your needs and wants from the other person and the relationship in general.
People I meet will have a sense that time is ticking
In your 30s, you expect to meet your agemates or people in their 40s, not those in their 20s. As such, you expect they will have the sense that time is ticking and, hence, step up and make the most of it.
Whether you’re a man or woman, you expect to find someone ready to settle down and start having kids.
The quality of the dating pool is better
Over the years, I’ve gradually improved myself. I’ve learned from my mistakes and those of others and can make better choices now.
I’ve also learned to be better for others and compromise to meet others halfway. So I’m proof that maturity and a better understanding of yourself come with age.
In the same way, I expected people I met to be better because I’m dealing with adults who’ve gone through life and used the lessons to better themselves.
There will be a variety to choose from
I expected to meet so many people with the same goal because I’m in the age bracket where people are looking to settle, and I can just pick whoever I’m compatible with.
The Shocking Dating Reality in Your 30s
Here are the realities I learned about dating in your 30s:
You might be the only one looking for something permanent
Because I’m looking for something permanent doesn’t mean other people are. And not because they are younger; some are even older, but because we have different priorities.
I met people in their late 30s who had families in their early 20s and were divorced, so they don’t want to settle down; they just want something casual.
Not everyone is sure of what they want in a relationship
Not everyone knows what they want in relationships. And even in your 30s, you’ll still meet adults who are unclear about their wants. So either the lessons they learned in previous relationships differed from yours or, sadly, they didn’t learn anything.
Self-improvement is a choice you make and is not easy. You have to accept your faults and those of others, then work on being better and compromising for others.
Time is only ticking on my end
While you expect everyone to have a sense that time is ticking, it’s only ticking on your end. While you opted to look for stability before settling down, some people settled down earlier and are back into dating because it didn’t work.
So if it’s kids, they already have them, and some don’t want more. Such people will not be aware of the passage of time, at least not when dating.
Quality is not necessarily better
Not everyone worked on themselves as you did, so quality is not necessarily better. Besides, others have baggage from previous relationships, while others are still dealing with life traumas. Such people lack personality stability, and dating them isn’t easy.
You don’t have a lot of options
Considering those dealing with personality issues, traumas, and emotional baggage don’t have lots of options to choose from, some don’t want to settle down, which narrows your options even more.
Dating in your 30s: Man vs. Woman
Women’s dating in their 30s differs from men’s. What attracts a woman is different from what attracts a man.
Generally, men are attracted to a woman’s looks, while women are attracted to what a man has to offer. In general, things like finances, status, and stability impact a woman’s decision when choosing a man.
Men accumulate these things as they age, and that’s why women will always find older men attractive. And if you think about it, most men, including those who had a hard time attracting women at a young age, eventually end up with suitable partners.
Unfortunately for women, qualities that attract men fade as they age. For example, a 33-year-old is not as attractive as a 23-year-old in the eyes of a man.
So the power shifts: a woman who had suitors in her youthful life struggles to attract men in her 30s, while a man who had a dry well in his youth draws women in his 30s.
Another thing is that a man in his early 30s has plenty of time to date for fun before settling down. As for a woman, her biological clock is ticking, so she doesn’t have much time.
That said, it’s fair to say dating in your 30s gets easier for men and harder for women.
Does Dating Get Easier in Your 30s?
That depends; for some, it does, while for others, it doesn’t. But generally, navigating the dating world as you age is more complex than in your 20s.
Everybody is working their way up at a younger age, so things like financial stability have less impact. You want someone who has their sh*t together in their 30s, not someone who is at zero.
Also, nobody is willing to teach an inexperienced partner. You are expected to know how to treat people right, compromise, communicate, and so much more. And whatever your reason for missing out on such things, it’s on you.
Most people in their 30s come as a package. It could be a previous relationship’s child, or it could be an ex-spouse. This means they come with baggage, and you might have people from previous relationships as well.
Dealing with your baggage is equally a task, so people are less willing to take up someone’s baggage.
You also know what you want and don’t want, which means someone has so many boxes to check before being given a chance.
In your 30s, you’re expected to have personality stability, but sometimes life happens and interferes with that stability. Some people are dealing with trauma and struggling to remain stable; one trigger might affect them terribly.
You don’t expect such a person to have an easier time dating just because they are older.
People expect dating in their 30s to be easier because they’ve evolved in different aspects of their lives. But as we’ve seen, it’s not that easy as there are other external things in the picture.
Does dating get harder in your 30s?
It gets easier for some and harder for others. While you might know better and make better decisions in your 30s, it takes two to tango, and the other person equally affects your dating experience. This means if you are better but meet a “bad” person, it will get harder. The opposite is also true.
What should you look for in a relationship in your 30s?
Personality stability, understood and respected boundaries, a support system, consideration, and genuine intimacy However, keep in mind that humans are imperfect, so be willing to compromise on your end and don’t expect to get something you can’t offer yourself.
How long should you date in your 30s before getting engaged?
There is no fixed rule for this. Date until you’re ready to get engaged. Relationships are different, so while some may take a year or two of dating before getting engaged, others can take four to five years. So instead of focusing on the duration, work on your relationship and compatibility.
We all have different dating expectations, which change as we age. But I’ve learned that the other person equally affects your dating experience, so though you might be a better person in your 30s, that doesn’t mean everyone you meet is.
Besides, life treats us differently, so we align our priorities differently. So the best you can do is work on yourself and hope you meet someone better.
Also, lower your expectations and be ready to compromise.