I have a surprising number of single friends who are in their 30s. I don’t think that this is a problem by any means, but I know that a lot of them don’t actually want to be single. I’m married and think that being married is pretty cool, but I could also see a great path being single or just dating, so this post is only for people who are single and don’t want to be.
The biggest realization that single people in their 30s need to make is that what they have been doing is not working. Dating is hard, finding the right person is hard, but… you’ve been working at it for at least 15 years and many other people have been successful in that time. At this point, the problem is your approach, not the outside world.
I would (and did) make dating a top priority. Not in title, but in practice. I would be swiping Tinder and every other app every day, and if that wasn’t getting me enough matches I’d be dusting off the boots and making myself approach people in person. It doesn’t really make any sense to leave something as important as your life partner up to chance. You wouldn’t do that with any other major area of your life.
You can argue that most people meet their significant others by chance, but that’s because most people just wait years and hope something happens, not because that’s the most effective method for finding love.
Figure out exactly what you NEED in a partner. You will not find someone perfect, but you will find someone who has the necessary traits to create a successful marriage or relationship with you. It’s important to know what these are so that you can disqualify people who don’t have them, focus on those who do, and iterate on them as you date. Again, this is how you make dating an active process, not just a passive “I hope it works” sort of thing.
Go on dates with anyone you can who matches your criteria. Don’t overwhelm them or scare them away with overinterest, but do give them your focus and act like they just might be the one. When I met my now-wife I almost made the mistake of not doing this and waiting six weeks to see her again, because that was the most convenient plan for my schedule. My friend Todd pointed out what a big mistake that was and I went to see her less than two weeks later. I suspect I wouldn’t be married if I didn’t do that.
Most importantly, quit relationships that aren’t right. If your goal is to live your life and have people pass in and out of it as you go, then just date whoever you want. If, however, you’re trying to find something long-lasting or permanent, you need to cut your losses. Good is the enemy of the great. Any year you spend in a relationships that you know isn’t the one is a year of missed opportunities where you weren’t putting effort into finding the right one.
Something it took me a while to understand is that the quality of a relationship is based somewhat on shared principles, but mostly on the work that the two people put in as a couple. You don’t need to find someone perfect, you just need to find someone you’re compatible with who is willing to grow with you. Our society hides this fact sometimes, and you often see people waiting and waiting for perfection.
If you’re in your thirties, it’s probably about time to decide whether finding someone is important to you or not. If it is, then make finding that person a top priority. A good relationship pays massive dividends, so any investment you put into it will probably be worth it.
Picture is a couple ducks on Lake Mead that waited all morning for us to wake up and give them food.