Taking a plunge into the dating pool in your thirties is a very different experience to  that of being single in your twenties. Having survived the thrills, dramas and heartache of romance in the previous decade, a whole new host of challenges emerge as the prospect of middle-age begins to loom large.

We get it: singledom in your thirties can feel pretty bleak. The reckless abandon of Tinder dates, kiss-and-tells, embarrassing anecdotes and escaping out of the bathroom window when your date isn’t quite what you expected; well, it all feels a bit sad when you’re looking down the lens of a more serious existence. The proverbial pool is starting to evaporate, and many of your peers are navigating marriage and parenthood, leaving you wondering if there truly are plenty more fish in the sea, or if you’ve been cast adrift.

However, being single in your thirties and forties can actually be extremely fulfilling, making you more self-aware and confident in your own skin, and ultimately leading to better relationships down the line. 

Whether you’re newly single or finally ready to settle down, you never know when the right person could be waiting around the corner. So, while you patiently await your knight or knightess in shining, sequined armour, here’s some recommended reading for you; our 7 IDEAL tips for dating in your thirties.

Think About Location

In your early twenties, pubs and bars are crawling with singletons, and as such, finding a date – or at the very last, someone to talk to – was never difficult. Now you’re older, you start to realise that drunken encounters may not in fact, after a decade of research to the contrary, yield the perfect compatible life partner.

If you’re stuck in a dating rut, broaden your relationship horizons by going to singles’ dinner parties, cooking classes, music concerts and trendy cafes to try and meet new people. In other words, get out there and celebrate your interests and you’re likely to meet someone like-minded who is doing the same.

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Be Authentic

We’ve all, to some extent, pretended to be something we’re not to make someone more attracted to us, but does it ever actually work? Past experiences suggest not. Although it’s a good idea to be on your best behaviour when you’re on a date with someone new, resist the urge to play pretend. In the simplest terms possible; just be yourself. Pretending to love jazz music (which you can’t stand) to score a second date is only going to waste both of your time if that’s all your chemistry is hooked on. Plus, you’ll have to listen to loads of blooyd jazz for the rest of your relationship, and nobody wants that. If s/he doesn’t like you just the way you are, then they’re not the one for you anyway. Move On.

Trust Your Instincts

You know that little voice in the back of your mind that tells you when you’re about to make a colossal mistake? We tend to ignore it when we’re in our teens and twenties, choosing to follow heart over mind every time. We all come to realise eventually that we could have saved ourselves a great deal of heartache by trusting our instincts.

The world of dating certainly changes when you get older, but so do you. Not only do you have a more secure sense of your identity, but you’re also wiser. While you may have been willing to turn a blind eye to bad behaviour in the past, you now know the red flags to look out for, so have more faith in your intuition.

Forget the Timeline

When it comes to dating after your twenties, the desperation to settle down can result in some pretty poor decision-making. So forget the timeline. You are way more than just a ticking clock, and you deserve to be with someone who makes you genuinely happy, not just someone who fills the void, society’s expectations, or both.

You may have heard a thousand times that the right person is worth waiting for, but this phrase is clichéd because it’s true. The desire to get married and start a family will only result in heartache if you try to force the wrong person to settle down. Plus, nothing scares a potential suitor away faster than impatience.

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Don’t Stick With Your Type

We all have a “type” that we find most attractive, but, be honest, has yours ever served you well? Cast preconceptions and assumptions out of the window, for good. By looking for a specific type of person, e.g., tall solicitors with dark hair, you could be missing out on the opportunity to meet Mr or Mrs Right, just because they’re short, fair-haired and not a solicitor. No one’s saying you should lower your standards, but you shouldn’t dismiss someone off the bat just because they don’t fit your very particular, picky bill. Societal expectation probably spoonfed you your ‘type’ anyway, so it’s probably best to banish that notion if you want genuine fulfillment. Get to know different sorts of people, and you never know, your “type” could well change.

Seek Professional Dating Advice

If you’ve been on your share of disastrous Tinder, you’re probably ready to shut the door on online dating services altogether, and who can blame you? There is so much that can go wrong with web-based matchmaking that it’s almost worth saving yourself the hassle. Almost…….

But fear not, online dating can work out – just look around you. We all know at least one couple who met online, so all that swiping can work its magic if you’re willing to invest your time and patience. You might want to be more selective about the platforms you use to weed out the time wasters, but don’t give up on the internet altogether. Interest is certainly growing in more personalised, unqiue apps in tandem with anger at the pitfalls of Tinder et al. So, if you’re in need of dating advice, services like Social Attraction Ltd. provide free dating consultations and can help make a match made in heaven.

Leave Your Past Behind

It’s sad but true: holding on to past loves and losses can use up valuable emotions – as well as ridiculous amounts of time – leaving little space in your heart for someone new. It can be difficult to move on from a past break up, especially if you’ve been hurt or mistreated, but holding on to feelings of resentment or anger will make it difficult for you to open yourself up to someone new. If you’re struggling to let go of past emotions, speak to a therapist. It’s important to work to overcome any unaddressed issues before they rear their head in a new relationship.

Dating in your thirties can be more complicated than dating when you were younger, but that doesn’t mean it should be less fun. Don’t let your emotional baggage weigh you down, for we all have suitcases of it, and try not to let fear prevent you from putting yourself out there. Keep your expectations realistic and your hopes high, and trust that the universe has your back.