I recently went on a coffee date with a guy from match.com. To say that I was nervous about it would be an understatement. When I get really stressed or nervous, I break out into a rash. I was freaking out, thinking that I would have to say to my date, "Want to play connect the red dots on my arms?"
Fortunately, my skin (mostly) cleared up by the time we met for coffee. We talked for a long time. He was definitely nicer than a lot of the other guys I've gone out with, because he a) didn't insult me; b) didn't make up an excuse to leave early; c) didn't flirt with the waitress or keep checking out other girls; d) didn't watch TV while we were talking (this did actually happen on a date with a guy I met a couple years ago; we met in a bar and he kept watching the game on the TVs during our conversation. I felt like asking him, "Do you want me to leave so that you and the Bulls can have some alone time?").
He was pretty easy to talk to, and it seemed like we had a lot in common. There were, however, a few awkward pauses in the conversation, so I kept asking him questions and tried not to talk about work too much. (It's hard not to, though, seeing as how I think about work 95% of the time. The rest of the time I usually just think about books or food. Mostly food.)
There were a few times where guys I met through online dating sites mentioned their previous experiences with the sites, and we laughed about the funny profiles/e-mails we'd read. But this guy actually talked about other women that he'd dated, and he brought up the topic more than once. I've read in more than one article that you should NEVER talk about your exes on the first date, partly because you end up revealing more about yourself than about your exes. But what was I supposed to say? "Do you wish you were out with one of your other dates right now? Because I'm wondering why you're even thinking about them when you're with me."
I received a message from him soon after the date, but he didn't ask me out again. And in that sense, he was like several of the other guys I've dated. I couldn't help wondering how many more first dates I was going to have to go on before I met the right guy, or if I would ever find him.
In my opinion, dating in your thirties is more difficult and complicated than dating in your teens or twenties. When I was younger, I thought I had all the time in the world to find someone. In high school, if I had a crush on someone, I didn't really think about the future. I thought about how cute, funny and nice he was and how it would be cool if we got to go to a school dance together. When I was in my twenties, I thought more about long-term relationships, but I still had a more casual attitude about it. That is, I thought that if it were to lead to something more, great! If not, there were other guys out there.
But now that I'm in my thirties, I can't help viewing dates differently. For example, when I look at a guy's profile, I always check to see if he specifies whether or not he's looking for a serious relationship or if he wants kids someday (on match.com you can write "someday, undecided, definitely, no" in the "wants kids" section). If he isn't looking for any kind of a commitment (and many of the guys on plentyoffish.com make it clear that they aren't) or if he doesn't want kids, I immediately go on to the next profile.
On the other hand, for some reason a lot of the guys on plentyoffish.com have several children, as in three or four. I'm not opposed to dating a single dad, but I don't think I'm prepared to date someone with a big family, at least not yet.
When I go on dates, I don't just think, "Is he going to call? Will I ever see him again?" I also think, "Can I actually see myself with this person? Does he have the same values and beliefs as me? Does he want the same things I do? Is he someone I could introduce to my parents?" (Unfortunately, with almost all the guys that I've met through online dating, the answer is always no.)
I feel like now that I'm in my thirties, I'm running out of time. I know that a lot of people get married and have children when they're older, but I'm afraid that I won't be able to have children by the time I actually get married, if that ever happens. I could try adoption, but that's not a sure thing and it could take years. Not to mention most of the guys my age have wives or girlfriends, and the ones who are single are usually looking for someone a lot younger, not someone who's closer to their own age.
I've tried not one, not two, but FIVE online dating sites. I've tried blind dates and speed dating. I participated in social events at my church. There were a couple guys who asked me out at my various part-time jobs, but they were significantly younger, which was an issue for me. I don't want to still be going on first dates ten years from now, or even five years from now. I've already been on too many first dates as it is (way more than I thought I would have to go on when I was in my teens and twenties), and I keep ending up disappointed. I don't want to feel that way anymore.
They say that there's one right person out there for each person, but maybe that isn't entirely true. Maybe some people get to fall in love, get married, and have children, and others don't. Maybe one of the reasons I'm such a workaholic is because it'll pay off in the end, and I might get what I want from my work, if not from someone who may not even exist. Maybe the reason I haven't been able to make it work with any of the guys I've gone out with so far is because it wasn't supposed to work with anyone. I might not ever be a wife or a mother, but I could spend the rest of my life as a teacher and a writer. And maybe that's not such a bad thing, seeing as how I do love teaching and writing. I think that I'm pretty good at teaching and writing (though I still have a lot to learn), yet I keep failing at dating.
What about you? Do you think that dating in your thirties is different from dating in your twenties or teens? How do you feel about first dates?
Here's a funny video that compares women in their twenties to women in their thirties (I'm definitely like the thirtysomething women in this video, except substitute the club and the bar they go to with Barnes & Noble and Target.)
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