While my first article regarding relationships and being single in your 30s was looking on the bright side of life, there is a not-so-bright side as well. While I have no doubt that this is where I am meant to be at this moment in my life, I will admit there are some downfalls to being single in my 30s.
First of all, being single in your 30s is incredibly different from being single in your 20s. In your 20s, being unattached is kind of cool and fun, and the dating scene is still full of exciting possibilities. In this day and age, many 20-somethings are probably not yet married, may not have kids and the bars are still crawling with people their age looking for the same thing — having a good time. Once you hit 30, that all changes.
While I do have single friends, most of my friends have gotten married, made solid career choices and possibly have had children, so trying to get a group of them to go out is a chore. There are babysitters to find, and long hours at your grown-up job to deal with, not to mention, you’re just plain tired all the time! And the bar scene is still the same. It’s still full of 20-somethings who want to go out and get drunk. So even though I may not look or feel like I’m 35, the thought of striking up a conversation with someone who is in a different point in their life than I am, let alone dating someone who is more than five years younger than me, seems kind of exhausting. I’m looking for something different than they are. Someday they may want to get married and have a family and successful career, but currently they are more focused on how many shots they can take before the bar closes at 2 a.m.
My Friday night a few weeks ago was a great example. I went out for drinks with two of my closest girlfriends (one single with a young daughter, one engaged with no children — both divorced like me), and now that I am single, I cherish these nights. After dinner and some wine, we stopped at a bar that we had never been to. Embracing my optimism, I thought it might be fun and maybe I would even meet a nice, available guy. The problem was, a lot of the guys in there were already with someone or were too young for me, and the girls there who looked to be in their 20s, had dressed to entice, and had probably spent two hours getting ready. I will admit that it made me feel old. My clothing wasn’t revealing and my heels only gave me a 2-inch height increase. I realized that the probability of meeting Mr. Right in this bar was looking pretty slim. We ended up back at “our bar,” a dive that we have been going to for years, where we know everyone and feel comfortable. It turned out to be a great night, laughing with friends, staying out too late, and watching other people’s drama, but this morning I woke up in the same place as the day before: not any closer to a fulfilling relationship or meeting anyone new, with a headache to remind me that I am no longer 24.
At my age, being single can also be lonely, not to mention scary. Since my network of single friends is quickly diminishing, I’m not able to pick up the phone and call anyone and know they’ll be able to hang out. I want to go out and do things, whether that be going out for drinks, just having lunch, going to a concert or shopping for the afternoon, but now I have to face the fact that I may have to go at it alone. Sometimes sitting at home surfing the Internet for three hours for ways to organize my house and watching movies with my dog gets a little mundane.
Another question is, how do you meet new, like-minded people that you’re excited to spend time with? While there is still hope in meeting someone at a bar, that is not the only way I want to meet people. Dating someone you work with never seems like a good idea and rarely works out. Most of my friends don’t know single guys to set me up with because most are married with kids by now. Then, adding to an already elaborate situation, so many people out there have been married and are divorced or have some other form of complicated baggage. So you have to ask yourself if you’re willing to deal with someone’s baggage — an ex wife/husband, possibly kids, maybe crazy financial stuff or skeletons in the closet — that you don’t even know exist. One thing I have learned through my crazy dating life is sometimes you don’t really know someone, and maybe you never will. I have learned to become friends with their friends, their family, anyone who could offer insight into the person they are or have been. But more on that later.
That optimistic, 20-something part of me wishes that one of my wonderful married friends will invite me over for a dinner party one night and there he’ll be; single, educated, with minimal baggage, goal-oriented, devoted, employed with a good job, funny, cute, God-fearing, with hopes and dreams that mirror my own. We’ll sit next to each other and he’ll introduce himself with wit and classic charm and I’ll fall for him when he mentions his love for wine, music and dogs. A girl can dream, can’t she? But he’s out there somewhere, right?