Tips for Dating in a Post-Tinder World When You're No Longer in Your 20s
Last night, as a 33-year-old single woman living in the ginormous city of Jakarta, I found myself talking about dating and relationships with my girlfriends probably for the 10th time this week. If not via actual face-to-face dinners/lunches/brunches, these conversations are held through messaging, emails, what have you. Even my work colleagues and team talk to me about it constantly. My family. Acquaintances. Old friends. New friends. EVERYONE. People certainly love talking about this subject with me, and (I assume) all other single people. The subject is broached differently according to the source:
Girlfriends: Who are you seeing? What is he like so far? Let's see his face… what's wrong with him?
My employees: You're so amazing, how come you're still single?
Acquaintances (soon to be un-friends) or distant relatives: You must be so picky, perhaps too picky.
New friends: Can I introduce you to my single friend?
Mom, dad, grandmother, aunts: We'll pray that you'll find somebody soon.
Brother: (Non-audible noise) Meh. (Note: my bro doesn't really talk.)
Some conversations are fun, light enough, and haha funny. Other conversations, I can't wait to get out of. Sure, I know some of the answers already; and at some point like to believe that I'll meet someone, fall in love, and go through the saga with this special someone of how to stay together.
Since moving here from San Francisco three years ago, I've been as single as I was back in San Francisco circa 2013 or bumble-eff-nowhere Waterloo circa 2010. And I've learned a thing or two about things that are not really helpful for you to do if you're single like me. And some things that could be helpful, if only we knew to do them.
Not helpful: The complaining, the bitching, the whining
Here are the top-five worst debbie-downer comments that some single people say:
- "Dating is SO hard."
- "It's so difficult to meet/date people in [insert location here]."
- "[Men/women] don't go for [men/women] like me."
- "Maybe they're all intimidated by me. I'm too educated for most people here."
- "I'll be alone forever."
I've been there, I get it. But it's exhausting to hear this when you're out and just trying to have a good time. EVERYBODY says his or her city is the worst place to date (except maybe if you're a man in New York City). Just writing about this made me pissy...
Not helpful: Making dating the center of your life
This includes desperately going out to bars/clubs/networking events solely for the purpose of meeting your next boyfriend. Dropping everything in your life to make it all about finding your soulmate (barf) is a ridiculous concept and makes you undateable, super boring, and somewhat creepy.
I also think I wouldn't want to be with someone who doesn't really have a life of his own. I don't want to be someone's sole raison d'être or the only source of their happiness. That sounds like a difficult-and-guarantee-you'll-fail job for anyone to handle.
Please continue to do fun things on your own or with your friends. Try out new activities. I recently tried belly dancing and signed up for archery -- all while still working and hanging out with people in between. Life should not stop being fun just because you don't have a significant other.
Not helpful: Making assumptions because of someone's age
When you're 33 or really any age older than 30, some people just have certain assumptions. Like in my case, it seems like everyone just assumes I'm ready to walk down the aisle next week. Err, no. Just because I no longer want to date someone for five years before talking about where things are going, doesn't mean I want to marry somebody next month. I don't think I'll automatically want to commit to whomever I date next. Sorry.
This works the other way too, with people in their 30s assuming people in their 20s won't commit. Or assuming people in their 40s are mature. Definitely NOT true!
Stop assuming. It really depends on the individual, not based on age or anything else. I love Taylor Swift, dissect a whole Justin Bieber song in this blog post, and my ringtone is Rihanna's "Work." Does that mean I'm 12? Possibly. But, stop assuming anyway.
Can be helpful (or not): Using dating apps like Tinder or Bumble
Tinder and Bumble certainly open doors to meeting new people in a super-fast and easy way. You can meet people in two seconds. Maybe less.
Specifically on Tinder (because Bumble hasn't really gotten popular here yet), people are definitely unfiltered. So you will swipe left 99% of the time... which I guess is the same ratio at which you'd say no to most people you meet in real life.
I found, though, these convenient apps created the illusion of a never-ending supply. And that illusion can mean you don't really put in the effort the first few times you meet someone. This mindset -- that there's plenty where that came from -- is kind of annoying.
Not helpful: Assuming there is an actual formula/framework to dating
Overthinking things is BS. There's no formula to life, dating, or running your own company. Rules, dating-book laws, or funnels of date acquisition (or the conversion rate from the number of people you meet on Tinder to first dates) are not solely going to be that helpful in finding love. Just don't overthink any of this. Life/love/work: they're all not that predictable anyway… which makes them more fun.
Not helpful: Having strict, limiting criteria
By all means, we should aspire to meet amazing girls and guys. But seriously, if you have non-subjective criteria that say things like "must have a master's degree" or "must go to the gym five times a week," you're not helping yourself. Having a master's degree doesn't guarantee a person is smart, if being smart is part of your criteria. Similarly, finding someone who cares about his or her health doesn't necessitate gym membership.
Helpful: Asking close friends to set you up with people they know
If you have good friends who really get and understand you, certainly they have some sort of idea who you'll get along with. Ask them to introduce you to people. The risk is low, and the upside is super high.
I've dated guys my friends introduced me to, sure. Some of them turned out to have issues (either anger management or extreme unhappiness), but I learned a lot from those relationships, too.
I just wish my friends would do a better job, haha kidding. But not kidding.
Helpful: Learning about feminine and masculine energies
Everyone, single or not, should read David Deida's book Intimate Communion. It very clearly lays out what feminine and masculine energies are and how they work in our day-to-day lives. It will open your mind to understanding your partner or others in your life/work/dating. Questions like, why don't men want to commit? Why do working, professional women exude masculine energies and therefore also lose their femininity outside of work? Why do we date wimpy men? What are the differences between love, romance, and sexual polarity? How come we're attracted to the same kinds of guys all the time? Why do we have these patterns?
Helpful: Being open and not taking any of this so seriously
In the end, wherever you are at this moment, you are completely, perfectly fine. If we can just remain open to life, enjoy it as much as we can, regardless of our relationship status, life is good.
Stop taking any of this too seriously! Our time is so finite and limited, if we waste it too much on worrying, then blip! You're gone. My 30s have been the best times in my life so far. I may still not know that much, but at least I know that I do'’t know that much anyway about this whole existence or the meaning of it all.
So, take it easy, my friends, single or not. Relax, smile, and have some fun!
Sign up here for our daily Thrillist email, and get your fix of the best in food/drink/fun.