Sex + Dating

What's the Worst Age to Be a Single Woman?

sex and the city
<a href="">Everett Collection</a> / Shutterstock

Thirty-three. It’s the age Jesus died. It’s the jersey number of basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. And now, it’s the absolute worst age to be a single lady -- at least, according to PlentyOfFish. In a recent survey by the popular dating site, researchers analyzed nearly 2 million messages across 81,000 user profiles. They discovered 33-year-old women received the fewest messages, and therefore concluded this the loneliest number of all.

And in today's least surprising news, 25-year-old gals came out on top.

But exactly what makes 33 so unlucky? While there’s no hard science to prove it, a site rep suggests that at 33, most women prioritize getting married and starting families, while their male counterparts prioritize ordering their next round of drinks. In fact, the survey anticlimactically revealed that there's just no bad age to be a single guy.

Still, if you are a single girl and turning 33 today, don’t freak out (and happy birthday, btw!). Relax. You won’t turn into a real-life Carrie Bradshaw just because one dating site says so. Sure, it might be a suck-filled solo year for you, but it won’t necessarily be the worst ever. In fact, I'm pretty sure these other single years could suck even more.

22: No-man's-land of good looks and shitty judgment

It may not seem like it, but when you’re 22, you’re in a catch-22, says relationship coach Elly Klein. You’ve got the looks (face it, you’ll never be as hot as you are now), and the ability to attract the highest-quality, most available men (you’re in every man’s favorite age range). But you'll also be prone to making the dumbest dating mistakes. In your early 20s, you’re “immature and inexperienced,” says Klein, which is why you’re drawn to the wrong guys (Justin Bieber; anyone on reality TV), or rush into serious relationships. The big risk here is that you miss out on tons of good dating and sexual experiences (at this age, most people don’t even know what good sex is) and may find yourself stuck in the wrong relationship for years.

27: The era of awkwardly Facebook stalking/half-avoiding engagement status updates

If history has taught us anything, 27 is a cursed year. Just look at Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix, and Janis Joplin. So it should come as no surprise that 27 is a shitty year for singles too, say Dana Balch and Stephanie Talmadge, co-creators of Bold Ass Dudes, a newsletter chronicling the Internet’s finest relationship horror stories. They say 27 is the magic age when Facebook opens the floodgates to friends’ engagement announcements and gratuitous close-up shots of gaudy engagement rings, “while you remain as single as a young man at a Celine Dion concert.”

But the pain doesn’t end there. You also have the bonus humiliation of attending those weddings solo, or bringing a Tinder stranger to pose as your plus-one. Both options usually result in less than a good time.

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34: The outer limits of culturally acceptable singledom

Thirty-three is bad, but 34 will be worse, warns Pegah Shahriari, a lawyer and self-described relationship expert who will be turning 34 later this year. “You’re suddenly at a point when everyone around you is married and having their first, sometimes second kid,” she says. “All you see is how much progress everyone else has made with their lives. It’s impossible not to feel scared, lonely, and left behind.”

Aside from the major FOMO, Shahriari believes 34 is also the last year to get your relationship act together. It’s the oldest acceptable age to be single, she says. “You’re literally counting down the days until you’re 35, which, by then, is too late. People just assume that it’s never going to happen for you. That’s when we really give up.”

40: Middled-out ground for lonely hearts (and empty wombs)

You may feel like giving up at 35, but if you’re 40 and single, it’s a "living hell," says Treva Brandon Scharf, a dating expert and relationship blogger. Before she married her husband at 51, Scharf “dated half the planet” but was still convinced she’d be single forever. You see all your friends are settled and have kids, she says. And if the peer pressure doesn’t put you in agony, your biological clock will.

By 40, women’s eggs are at a greater risk for chromosomal problems, which means you become painfully aware that the window for having healthy children has started to close. What’s worse, she says, many of the men in your dating pool are freshly divorced -- and the last thing they want to do is dive back into a serious relationship.

Early 60s: Old maids and cradle robbers

What makes dating in your 60s so difficult is that all the age-appropriate men are trying to hook up with women who are a couple decades younger than them, says Sarah Patt, a matchmaker and dating expert with It’s Just Lunch Houston. This relegates women in their early 60s, who are “still very active and vibrant," to dating men in the 70s and 80s, who -- let’s face it --  probably are not so much (unless, of course, you’re the Chiquita Banana Man who ran hurdles and broke world records well into his 80s, but how many of those old dudes really exist?).

Suffice to say, there is nothing appealing about spending the start of your retirement taking care of someone who is nearing the end of his.

Take that, 33.

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Jen Kim is a Thrillist contributor who doesn’t fear being single at 33 (not yet, anyway). Follow her journey through the Internet: @thisjenkim.