It’s not easy to share space with someone, even those you love. We all have different ways of doing things– our own habits, preferences and daily routines. For example, some of us cannot stand seeing a mess, while others absolutely don’t care if they live in squalor. Some of us need absolute peace and quiet at times, while others need constant background noise. Some of us cannot stand the sight of junk food or soda, while others couldn’t care less about the nutritional value of what they consume. Now, as kids, we have no choice but to put up with our parents or college roommates and some of their disturbing habits, but as we get older and are able to assert our independence, most of us will start to become pickier about the company we keep. Here are some other factors that play into why dating in your 20’s is completely different than dating in your in your 30’s and older:
How Much Are You Willing To Put Up With?
1. Money– In our 20’s, most of us are just finishing up our education and launching our careers. We may have a lot of dreams, but at this point in time we are mostly in the process of laying the foundation for pursuing our life goals. Most don’t have kids or much money, so there isn’t a lot of financial baggage at this time since very few have been through a divorce or gotten hit with support obligations, such as alimony or child support. After age 35, however, you start to run into a lot of people with kids in the dating scene, and if there are child support/alimony obligations as a result of a divorce, this can really complicate the availability of money in your relationship. You also start to see a stark contrast between those that have done a great job investing and saving for a rainy day, while others have unfortunately amassed a ton of debt, and are a financial mess, which is never sexy.
2. Health– In your 20’s, most of us are still in really good shape. Our metabolisms have not slowed down, we haven’t had kids yet, and so in the dating scene it’s like being a kid in a candy store with lots of great eye candy. Unfortunately, in your 30’s most of us notice our metabolisms start to slow down. It takes more effort to stay fit, especially for women that at this point may have a child. Meanwhile, many guys start to lose their hair, get a gut, go gray, etc. Bottom line is you no longer start to feel like a kid in a candy store, and this gets worse with each additional decade. By the time you are in your 40s/50s you also start to meet people with medical issues- it could be mental (such as anxiety, depression, bipolar) or physical ranging from erectile dysfunction, MS, Lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, a degenerative disc disease, an STD, or cancer, whatever– the point is life gets a lot more complicated as you age.
3. Kids– In your 20’s, no one has a biological clock that is ticking. The goal is just to have fun, and find someone you really click with. By contrast, in your 30’s and older, people do have more of a timeline– especially women that want to avoid a high-risk pregnancy and would like to have a child before turning 35. This puts a lot of pressure on guys, which of course, they hate, and for some that don’t want more kids you will quickly learn that this is a deal-breaker. Having a tight timeline, can also cause some people to just settle rather than hold out for that person that wows you. Unfortunately, even when someone does “wow” you, if that person wants kids and you don’t, then you have a major problem. Also those with kids have a much harder time scheduling dates/planning get-aways, and are very unlikely to be able to move away until their kids go off to college. At any age, how kids handle their parents dating someone else, is going to have a major impact on your relationship, which some may decide is just not worth all this trouble.
In the end, you need to decide how much you are willing to put up with, but know that life definitely gets more complicated with each decade, and it’s okay to realize that there is a lot you actually don’t feel like tolerating anymore when it impacts your personal life and overall wellness. We each have a right to our must-haves and can’t stands, along with our constitutional right to pursue happiness. So stop trying to fit a square peg through a round hole, if a situation doesn’t work for you, walk away– instead, just live and let live.
By Regina A. DeMeo, Esq.