We all know someone who is dating over 30 years of age, never married, forever single, and helpless when it comes to love. They’re the ones who break up over the first argument or the type of person who writes someone off because their date has a slight lazy eye. They are constantly looking for something specific and never quite find it.
For those of you that watch Friends, they are the Chandler Bing’s of dating. And if sitcoms, or fairytales, or Rom Coms have taught us anything, it is that ‘the one’ or that perfect, special someone IS out there and if you let it, that person will fall into your life or if you kiss enough frogs, you’ll find your prince/princess.
In every fairytale, the couple eventually achieves the ‘happily ever after’ – envision Wesley riding off with Princess Buttercup in the Princess Bride (which is a great movie, by the way!). After all of the ups & downs, the uncertainties, and the drama, they end up together to be forever married in bliss. That’s how it is in real life, right? What happens after that? This is where the real story begins and where many fail when it comes to love.
Before I go any further, I will admit that I find myself in the category of 30+ never-marrieders. I am not passing judgement. I spent many years between my 20’s and 30’s trying to make the fairytale a reality. It was only by observing my life through an outside lens that I realized the problem. And once removed from my relationship, I noticed the problem persisted across numerous single people of all walks of life!
Furthermore, the problem doesn’t come during the initial dating phase – either there is a spark or their isn’t. That’s a very important part of finding someone you’re compatible with, don’t try to date someone without that spark (read this to learn why). The issue comes when the real relationship sets in, when things start to get honest and the ‘honeymoon’ or ‘fairytale’ phase starts to fade. Because I care about your happiness and want to give those high-flying dreamers a good ‘wake up’ kick to the pants, I’m sharing my observations on why we need to grow up when it comes to dating.
1. Fairytales aren’t reality.
We’ve been programmed to believe that we all deserve a fairytale and that without taking any responsibility for the outcome, we will find our ‘perfect match.’ What I mean by this is that we are selfish when it comes to relationships; if a person or a relationship doesn’t match up with our expectations, we bounce. Obviously that person isn’t good enough or clearly just isn’t ‘the one.’ Instead of looking at it from the standpoint of how we might have played into the issue or how it could easily be resolved with a little flexibility, the issue is attributed to the other person.
Dating experts across the world have identified that flexibility is key to having a good relationship. It is also known as compromising. But just like Prince Charming who wouldn’t have any other maiden in the land but the one who fit Cinderella’s glass slipper, we don’t want to compromise.
2. Relationships require work.
I was dating a guy who threw in the towel over every little disagreement, he was adamant that relationships “shouldn’t be this hard.” For example, we argued over my telling his mom jokingly during lunch that he would cover her meal. I was half serious because it is nice to do but was also joining his mom in teasing him. Either way, he obviously didn’t appreciate it. Fair enough. But what happened was that he stormed out of my house, enraged that I would offer up his hard-earned money, jokingly or not.
The problem is that these type of disagreements are unavoidable. They actually NEED to happen to work through expectations and create an awareness of what the other person feels about a situation. We were really just working through our expectations. So instead of looking at it as ‘hard,’ look at it as ‘working together’ because relationships are hard and they don’t get any easier. Throw in two sets of in-laws, a few children, even aging into the mix and it’s one compromise and compassion-required instance after the next.
3. There is no ‘perfect match.’
You are going to be annoyed. You are going to want to throw something at your significant other at some point. It’s inevitable and it’s normal. When I first started dating aforementioned guy, his jaw clicked every time he yawned. And when he got tired, he yawned incessantly. It drove me crazy at first, why does it do that??? Aaahh!! But over time, I learned to look past it and I didn’t even hear it anymore. I made a conscientious decision that it wasn’t a big deal, I know there are things I do that annoy him. If I had gone in with the pre-conceived notion that my ‘perfect match’ would not have a jaw that clicked, I could have easily thrown in the towel.
Even more problematic, there is the belief that the ‘perfect match’ will be the solution to all past dating issues. Arguments? No way! Not with my ‘perfect match!’ Hello, reality is knocking and it wants to sink in. Don’t go into a relationship expecting the other person to be perfect, that’s way too much pressure to put on someone. Instead, go into a relationship understanding that the person you’re with has imperfections, but so do you. And imperfections can be cute, too! If you look at every imperfection as a clear indication that the person you’re with can’t possibly be ‘the one’, good luck finding that impossible person.
The bottom line on dating over 30…
We all need to grow up, we need to stop believing that there is one person who is going to solve all of our love-related problems. The only person that can do that is YOU. When you make a conscientious decision to love someone (flaws & all), work through issues, and be flexible, you can find a person who becomes a match. But for everyone out there, dating person after person, looking for that one person who is perfect, you’ll never find them. Because that person doesn’t exist.
As a sidenote and disclaimer, I do want to mention that you should not stay with someone who doesn’t love and respect you. We can only change so much for someone before we start to discredit ourselves. It’s ok to go with your gut and end something that isn’t right, I would never advocate sticking around with someone who doesn’t make you happy or that actually harms you. This advice is for those that never let someone in far enough to give it a chance. I found myself in that situation before I realized that I would never fit his ‘perfect match’ scenario dreamed up in his head. And I’ve certainly let go of really great guys because they didn’t fit into my ideal match framework.
At the end of the day, the fairytale mentality is far off from reality. Relationships require love, patience, and work to be successful. So once you find that person you click with, don’t set yourself up for failure by believing that everything magically turns into rainbows and butterflies and you skip hand in hand down flower-filled hills while birds sing. Sometimes, you’re gonna want to throw a shoe at your partners head and in a weird way, that’s love, too.
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, therapist, consultant or any other medical, licensed individual. Information contained in this blog should not be taken as medical advice or counseling from a professional licensed provider. For counseling, please reach out to a local consultant or therapist. For serious cases, where abuse may exist, please seek help 24/7 at http://www.thehotline.org/
Lauren is Co-founder and CMO of momsplained.com. A single mom, marketing pro, and avid DIYer, she spends her days playing as much as she works and working as much as she dreams. “Omnia Feminae Aequissimae (women are equal to everything).” – Lady Hale