Dating through high school and college is one of the most challenging experiences. These periods mark the beginnings of love, trust, sex and heartbreak that shape the way your future-self deals with relationships for years to come. You’re finally out of school with your new adult job, and things are going great, but there are no romantic prospects in sight. What happened?
There are many emotional and situational difficulties in finding a mate as you get older. Not only has the world changed since you took a break from the dating world, but your priorities have changed, and now it seems like you’re destined to be single forever.
Reasons why dating gets harder as you get older
We’re looking at 10 reasons dating gets harder from 20 onward, and what you can do about it!
#1 You’ve become set in your ways. It’s true. The older we get, the more stubborn we become about what we do and do not like. Working through college-age relationships, while frustrating and sometimes emotionally crippling, also taught you exactly what you’re looking for in a mate, as well as all those little flaws you’re simply too old and too wise to put up with now.
However, it also causes you to become slightly jaded and less open to new types of people. Like it or not, you’ve become “old” and set in your ways, and not even Mr. Right can seem to break your stance. [Read: 9 reasons your ideal man wish list isn’t working out for you]
#2 You have more emotional baggage. When you’re a teenager, you feel like your whole life is ahead of you. Love is blissful, life is free, people are genuine, and you have all the naivety in the world. It’s that same naivety that gives you the balls to trust in love and continue putting yourself through relationship torture for years and years. It is also during this time in our lives that we begin to develop emotional baggage.
Suddenly the way our first love hurt us sets the pattern for how we handle future relationships. By the time we’ve hit our mid-20s, 30s and 40s, our emotional and physical baggage only grows, and if you’re dating within your age range, then that would mean your potential partner has some baggage of their own, creating a sticky situation for your future relationship.
#3 It’s way harder to meet people. Ironically, once you’ve matured and feel like you’re finally ready for a serious relationship, there seems to be no avenue to find one! Once you’re outside of high school and college, your dating pool seems to shrink drastically.
The simplicity of taking a chance with that cute girl in class has now turned into you trolling the gym or your workplace for someone to date. This only gets harder as you get older, as you’re not exactly keen to go clubbing for potential partners when you have a 7AM meeting. [Read: 33 places to meet attractive and eligible men]
#4 You’ve gotten too used to casual dating. On the flip side, perhaps you’ve spent a little *too* much time in the dating world, and not enough time in the world of relationships to remember how to do it. As silly as it sounds, sometimes jumping into a relationship isn’t as easy as riding a bike, if you haven’t done it for a while.
After 3 years with my serious long term boyfriend, I suddenly felt like I had no clue how “kids” these days were pursuing each other. This can be incredibly discouraging to those trying to jump back into the dating pool, but don’t give up! It may be hard, but it sure isn’t impossible. [Read: 19 signs you’re ready for a serious relationship]
#5 It’s harder to meet someone with your goals. The fabulous thing about getting older is that you only become surer of what you want out of life. The only bad side? It becomes harder to meet someone who shares your life goals after college, especially when life becomes tangled with demanding jobs, children from a previous relationship, ex-wives and husbands, and other familial obligations.
#6 It’s awkward approaching someone new. While you realize you’re not in elementary school any longer, the thought of approaching someone new with the thoughts of dating can sometimes be overwhelming. This may be easier when you are still in your 20s. However when you hit your 30s, 40s, and 50s, the thought of approaching a stranger for a date becomes as uncomfortable a thought as approaching a child on your first day of school and asking: “Want to be friends?” [Read: How to approach your crush and make them fall for you]
#7 Someone else has had a chance to shape your potential mate. Your potential new mate has already had a handful of relationships, and may even be divorced or separated, meaning they’ve had dozens of opportunities for someone else to shape their likes, dislikes, intuition, trust, and everything else in between.
This doesn’t mean your potential mate has entered a “no-go” zone. It is simply a fact of life. Still, you can’t deny how awesome it would be to have someone at least a little impressionable to roll in the hay with.
#8 Social media and cell phones have ruined our social capabilities. This is especially true of those in their 20s. The hard fact is that while technology has created a fun, diverse, and explorative spin on the current world we live in, it has also drowned our abilities to properly socialize.
Phone call, anyone? Instead, youths today would rather communicate impersonally via text message than actually get to hear their new crush’s voice. Ever seen a couple on a date at a restaurant, yet both of them are glued to their cell phones? Point taken.
#9 Looks have faded. You’re not getting any younger. A ridiculous thought for those in their 20s, but true for the rest. Don’t deny checking yourself out in the mirror studying your face at the sleep line that takes just *that* much longer to go away than it used to, or that one gray hair that seemed to have five friends attend its funeral.
When you’re young, shallow as it is, you feel like you can skate by on your looks to at least hook in your man and eventually make him see how awesome your personality is, too. The same goes for younger guys who subsist on beer and ramen noodles, and still look like they jumped out of a Chippendale’s ad. Now you may be finding you’re working your magic the other way around. [Read: 15 ways to keep yourself sexy at any age]
#10 The good ones are taken. This applies to most generations after 20. It seems all the good, cute guys who still have hair, or the smart, attractive women without children are already committed to someone else.
Don’t sweat the small stuff when it comes to finding relationships in your later years. You may be set in your ways, but you know what you want, and when you do find that special someone, they’re going to be of the highest quality, because you won’t accept any less.
Try not to dwell too much on the negatives when it comes to aging and meeting people. The process may be a little more difficult than when you were in your teens, but the result of a mature, loving relationship is totally worth the struggle.
[Read: 30 honest life truths about hitting 30]
By the time you hit your 20s, 30s, 40s and so on, finding that one guy or gal whom you can spend the rest of your life with may be tougher. But don’t lose hope! Someone out there may be thinking the exact same thing as they wait for your opportunity to meet to finally arise!
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Waverly Smith is a freelance writer who has been getting paid for spreading her sarcastic take on love, life, and sex since 2010. She is many things that peo...
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