By the time you’ve hit the big 3-0, you’ve hopefully left behind some of the not-so-romantic parts that come with dating in your 20s.
This includes (but sadly, is not limited to) ghosting, people not knowing what they want, and dealing with a whole lot of immaturity. While a lot of this can still happen in your 30s, the good news is that there are more singles out there looking for “The One”. This levels the playing field quite a bit.
To help you navigate through this new dating arena, we turned to the experts for their best tips on how to date in your 30s when you are ready to settle down.
Take it slow
First and foremost, don’t start envisioning your wedding with every person you meet.
You don’t want to take off your rose-colored glasses one day only to realize that you married a frog instead of Prince Charming. To keep yourself — and your prospective partner — in check, the key is recognizing that actions speak louder than words.
“Before you invest yourself fully in the person you are dating, make sure that they are worth investing in.”
Ask the tough questions
Welcome to dating with intention. It’s not just about finding the right dating site for your age group: this is all about being clear about what you want and asking the same in return from your prospective partner.
“Being honest about this takes away any ambiguity or wondering if they want what you want, will want to be exclusive, when, etc,” Lisa Concepcion, a Certified Love Life Strategist, Dating & Relationship Expert and Founder LoveQuestCoaching, explains to Datezie.
“All of that common dating anxiety disappears when you start off with honest communication about what you’re ready for.”
By asking a potential partners these tough questions, you’re getting to the root of whether you’re compatible or not and whether they are in it for the long run.
For this, Amy Schoen, a Professional Life Coach and Dating/Relationship Expert, says to “make sure your core relationship values are aligned. That you both respect and honor what is important for one another.”
Get very clear about why you’re ready to settle down
Not to go totally The Bachelor on you, but you have to be in it for the right reasons.
To help you figure this out, Concepcion says to ask yourself these questions: Have you accomplished what you wanted for yourself? Are you secure, whole, healed and happy? What are the reasons driving your desire to settle down?
This leads to this next tip…
Not wanting to be the only single one in your group of friends is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to people rushing to settle down.
For some women, there’s also the pressure of their biological clocks, says Lana Otoya, a professional dating coach from Millennialships.com.
“I often tell women who are single that even though they don’t have time to waste on men who are not serious, good high-quality men have nothing but time.”
These are men that, for lack of a better term, actually have their shit figured out.
“They often have their careers figured out, are emotionally stable and are ready to find a woman who is going to be a perfect match,” says Otoya. In other words, they’re the kind of men worth holding out for instead of letting fear of being single forever force you to settle.
“Many people feel that if they don’t get married within a certain time frame, they will have lost their chance and their mental health will suffer because of it. The truth is, being in a relationship with someone you don’t like is going to hurt your mental health a thousand times more than being single ever would.”
Be clear on what you are looking for and what your deal breakers are
With age comes wisdom.
By the time you’re in your 30s, you probably have a decade of dating experience under your belt (both literally and figuratively, no judgment here) to help guide you to your right partner.
This means that you’re well-versed in your dating deal breakers are, says Dr. Weltfreid. “You may have come to realize that you want to be with someone who is empathic, forgiving, and positive and that your deal breakers include substance abuse or someone who avoids intimacy.”
This acts as a compass, helping you navigate through the dating world while always staying true to yourself. “Keep your standards and be confident to walk away if the person is not compatible with you. Connection and chemistry is important but more is needed.”
If you’re unsure what your dating deal breakers are, start with this tip from Gabi Conti, comedian and author of Twenty Guys You Date in Your twenties: make a list of non-negotiables. But when doing so, make sure the list isn’t superficial.
“Instead of ‘has a good head of hair’ and ‘drives a nice car,’ it should be personality traits and beliefs that are really important to you.”
Still stuck on what to write? She recommends looking back on your past relationships and listing what didn’t work. “For example, if you keep dating people that still have a lot of growing up to do, maybe your non-negotiable is dating someone who is mature and self-sufficient,” she says.
“Also think of the things that are important to you in a relationship, for example, if you want kids like yesterday, then you’re going to want to date people that are on the same page as you about that.”
Don’t stop working on yourself
Carrie Bradshaw from Sex and the City said it best: “The most exciting, challenging and significant relationship of all is the one you have with yourself. And if you find someone to love the you that you love, well, that’s just fabulous.”
So while you’re on the search for your forever relationship, don’t stop focusing on personal growth and what makes you happy.
“Now is the time to build up your confidence, whatever that means to you,” says Conti. “I already know you’re a catch, but you need to really believe that before you seriously start dating.”
In the meantime, you can focus on friendship, says Tina B. Tessina, PhD, psychotherapist and author of Dr. Romance’s Guide to Finding Love Today.
“Making friends is easier and makes you less nervous and better able to think clearly.” The best part of this is that, in the end, romance usually follows. And if not, well, you’ve still got a friend.