34, Single and Freaking Out
Question to the Sexpert:
“I’m 34 years old and don’t even have a potential boyfriend lined up. I’m frustrated and I feel like I’m running out of time. I tried online dating but nothing ever goes past one or two dates. The bar scene is looking bleaker and bleaker. Everyone I meet who is around my age and is remotely interesting is already married or something. And none of the obvious things are wrong with me: I’m educated, employed, in good shape, easily a 7 or 8, with lots of hobbies and things to talk about. I have great friends and none of them seems to think I’m crazy or awkward. People keep telling me that these things happen when you’re not looking for them, but I don’t have the patience. What am I overlooking?”
HOLY SHIT. 34???
Oh my god. You probably ought to just stock up on Cup O Noodles and prepare for death. Also: cats.
Wait, I forgot I’m not some awkward Long Island mother character on a network sitcom and that I actually believe it’s a million times better to be single than to wish you were.
So anyway, consider this my virtual reassuring stroking of your hair, reminding you that:
b) Paying monthly dues at a dating site or for going to events where you might meet other singles cost way less than a divorce attorney
c) Your married friends envy your freedom to make out with random strangers and/or go on nice dates where no one farts because you’re still maintaining a façade of civility
d) Reproductive technology advances mean you have plenty of time for that biological clock. And adoption will probably always be an option.
So calm yourself. You’re not running out of time. In fact, if you’re open to dating divorcees, you’re actually in prime position to snag someone who has already left the marriage they entered because they were too young to know better. Those folks are already trained in how to live with someone and usually have learned a lot about what NOT to do.
But if this rah-rah-rah encouragement isn’t making it feel any easier to sit idly, let’s look at solutions.
SEARCHING AND FEARLESS INVENTORY
No, you don’t need to quit drinking. But you do need to conduct an honest assessment of yourself and your expectations. It sounds like you’re looking for a specific type of relationship: committed romantic relationship with a companion with whom you have a lot in common.
One major reason that many adults have difficulty finding the type of relationship they want is that they are dating for the wrong one.
For instance, someone might express the desire to find a serious, monogamous relationship to their friends but then spend their efforts on 3 am “hey. cum over” sexts and last-call hook ups. There is nothing wrong with those things- they’re a lot of fun, in fact- but they are the appropriate dating style for someone who is just trying to have casual experiences. It’s like showing up to a job interview in your gym clothes. (Fitness instructors: it would be like showing up to a job interview in a steam punk wedding dress or something).
- Be sure you’re actually aware of what you want and don’t want in a relationship and are actively looking for those things in potential dates.
- Ask a truly trusted friend for an honest assessment of how good you are at flirting, dressing for dates and whatnot
THEY’RE DOING YOU A SOLID
All those folks you go on one date with, who fade away into the ether? Consider it a favor. I spent more than a couple youthful nights feeling like Poopyturd McUglyface because some random person I was crushin on didn’t think I was all that. And now when I look them up on the Book of Face and see how the ravages of time have treated their various body parts, I’m mad grateful to not be stuck with the hot mess they’ve become.
And while I’ve never been to prison, I have a vague notion from watching Oz that it blows (Although lesbian porn does present a very different perspective). So does being trapped in a relationship with a perfectly nice person for whom you have exactly zero romantic feelings. If someone doesn’t legitimately turn your crank, don’t waste their time. Nothing worse than finally running into Mr Right while standing next to your fiancé, Mr. Whatever, shortly after getting engaged because you figured “what the fuck, I’m 34.” And if someone isn’t digging all your awesome, then clearly there is something off about this pairing and being let go nicely now means you not having to consider setting fire to a house as a realistic option ten years from now.
FINDING LOVE IS A PART-TIME JOB
Little known fact: people who believe “you can’t search for love, it just comes when you’re not looking” are, in fact, legally retarded. It’s one of the questions on an IQ test.
What they should say (and probably mean) is that giving off an air of desperation is a guarantee to scare good candidates away. If you’re showing your “I’m 34, single and freaking out” hand, you’re making people anxious and practically demanding they leave.
Unless you’re in school, surrounded by tons of cuties who share your hobbies and political affiliations and sincere interest in how long someone can hold a keg stand, it’s fucking hard to meet new people. Some jobs lend themselves to intense, intimate moments with good looking strangers, but very few. Otherwise you have to make a concerted effort to make it happen… And then spend a fair amount of time going on dates. And it can be exhausting. Just is.
- Enlist others: some like to play matchmaker, or at least like seeing their friends be happy. Make sure your smart, reasonably cool friends know you’re on the prowl. They’re an excellent litmus test for trustworthiness, personality compatibility and all that.
- Approach strangers, make small talk with everyone: even if you don’t find them attractive, you get good practice.
- Break up your routine: go a different way to/from work, take up offers to try to new things at different places, take a class at your gym, find a new hobby/passion/second career that will both introduce you to new people and just make you more interesting
At minimum, you can find something that keeps you occupied, because you might find out there are more important things to you than a relationship.