I’ve heard it hundreds of times from the girls. Dating a man in his 20’s is drastically different than dating a man in his 30’s. How many of us on the “other side” of 30 have said, “This just keeps getting harder.” Yup. I don’t think we were wrong. I’ve given this a lot of thought and done some sniffing around. I wavered on how I should write this up, a total narrative seemed just too boring. So I’m going to get a little creative on you all. I’ll make statements or answer questions for both ages. For the purposes of simplicity, we’re going to pick the ages 25 and 35. Then some commentary will follow at the end.
Approach in a Bar:
25: “Hi. What’s your name?” (Simple, honest, direct.)
35: “Yeah, my friend over there made me a bet. He said I couldn’t get you to talk to me because people here in D.C. are really rude, but I said that a girl as pretty as you could never be as rude as everyone else here.” (Multi-faceted, complicated psychology going on here – puts down his friend so you won’t want to get with him while saying how nice and pretty he thinks you are and also compliments you into talking to him.)
Check comes at a Restaurant:
25: “Here. Let me get this.”
35: Makes no move for check. More often than not, you end up splitting it.
End of a Date:
25: “I had a good time. I’ll call you later.” (He actually calls you “later” which means later that day.)
35: “Take care.” (It’s almost a week before you hear from him again.)
On Back to Back Phone Calls:
25: “I know we just hung up, but I thought of something funny I wanted to tell you.”
35: N/A. A 35 year old man won’t call you twice within two days, lest you think he wants to marry you.
“I said no, we’re not having sex:”
25: “Okay. But I can’t wait to.”
35: “Shhhh……”(as he’s unbuttoning your jeans.)
“Are We Dating Other People?”
25: “I dunno. Are we?” (Tossing it back at you.)
35: “Hey! Look at that mailman over there! Ha ha! He’s wearing a hat!” (At all costs, trying to change the subject and make an escape.)
“Look how cute these earrings are!”
25: “Yeah. They are.” (Really means it but also thinks: “I can’t afford them.”)
35: “What? Were you talking?” (Thinks: If that was a hint, then I’m gonna point at my crotch next time.)
Ok. They are just examples. I know I’m exaggerating a bit here, but I’m trying to illustrate a point. Dating has gotten harder. Much harder. Forget that now half the men I meet have baggage in the form of ex-wives and kids. Somehow I feel like I’ve gone from hooking up in someone’s dorm to dealing with men who have families already. I’m not sure when I crossed over. I think I might have slept through all that.
Anyway, when I graduated college and moved back to lovely Connecticut, dating was easy. Not just because I was in a small town and knew a lot of people, but because it just came so naturally. I went out in New York City a lot, and every time I went out, I met tons of men. Men approached me in bars with ease. Men pursued me to no stop at times. Some guy who lived in my apartment complex followed me to work one day just to pull up next to me at a red light and ask me out. See? Easy. No tension. Low drama. No baggage.
I spent 6 years in a relationship that ended when I was 30. Back to dating.
My first impressions of dating at 30 were that now I was dealing with older men than I had in the past. They were grown ups, or so I thought. My rebound boyfriend, referred to in this blog as “Rockstar,” was the perfect relationship to have after the ex. He was attentive and did a fair amount of chasing. But, he had baggage in the form of two ex-wives. No kids, so not a big deal, but still, it was my first taste of dating as a 30 year old.
The next man who hopped down the rabbit path forever redefined for me what I want in a man. He was 39 when we dated and had no visible baggage. But, he wasn’t attentive or emotionally available. So I revise to say that on paper he was what I wanted, but not a living version. Despite the fact that I fell in love, continued to dream about him incessantly and have bumped into him on several occasions, the sting of losing him (or the idea of him) took a long time to subside. I actually saw him the other day when I was walking the doggies, and he stopped for a second, made like he was going to turn back, then I looked away, and he kept walking. Watching him double back then turn back around and continue walking, I realized that was pretty apropos of our entire relationship – misunderstandings and mixed signals.
He exited my life in January, 2005, and “Let the dating begin.” Eighteen months ladies and gentleman. Eighteen months of dating, twelve months of blogging about it and all I can tell you is that it is harder now than it has ever been. And it continues to get harder with each passing year. Men in their 20’s seem to function off their heart. If they like you, they just like you. Nothing will keep them from pursuing you. Nothing will keep them from calling you when they want to talk to you. Nothing will keep them from being with you when they want to be with you. They haven’t been kicked around enough to truly fine tune their “game” and create a bunch of rules. They say what they mean and they mean what they say.
A man in his 30’s is different. He’s scared that all available women are trying to bag him. He will sometimes date much younger women because of his commitment phobias. He doesn’t want to give out any false hopes, and generally seems to play a lot more games than I’ve seen men in their 20’s play. He’s noncommittal, inattentive, protective of his privacy and protective of his wallet. (Good lord, keep your money dude, I’ve got my own.)
I know I’m not without reproach. I’m not as forgiving as I used to be. I’m not as flexible. I’m pickier in my 30’s. And everytime I, gasp, fall in love with a guy, it’s because he’s somehow better than the last guy I fell for. What that also means is that the bar gets set higher and higher. (Read: I become pickier.) But, I don’t waste people’s time. I have a two date rule, then I’m out. (I actually know in one date, but I promised my parents that I would do the stupid second chance thing.) Men in their 30’s don’t do this. They can date and date and date you, and never give any indication that they aren’t feeling it until you push for the “talk.” Games. I hate games.
By their 30’s, men and women alike have had relationships that have shaped them. And whether we like it or not, we carry baggage out of those relationships. If that means we are pickier, well, then, it’s the truth. I’m not willing to compromise what I want just to be with someone who may or may not be right for me. But more importantly, if I’m going to share my life (and my home, and my dogs) with someone, well, then he better be amazing. I haven’t met him yet, and right now I’m not even trying. Maybe I should forge ahead and date men in their 40’s? 50’s? Hmm. Food for thought…
Wow, this is too true.
I think that is, sadly, the way to go – 40s. Granted, they often have the same baggage (ex-wives, kids) but somehow they’ve got their shit together.
The most recent guy to really get to me was 43 (the engineer) and wow, it really made me reconsider the whole age limit thing. The only thing is, I know I want to have children and a guy like that, unless he is like Brad Pitt who is 42 and desperately wants to have kids, will often be noncommittal on the kid thing (the engineer was).
Men think they can procreate into perpetuity so they don’t worry about that stuff, but I do because chances are I’ll outlive them and I don’t want to raise them by myself. Your children need their father all the way into adulthood. There is a benefit there in having relatively young parents, because children get the advantage of having guidance on being an adult well past 18 and it’s incredibly valuable.
Anyway, this is a great post, V.
This is an interesting look into what is really going on. I have heard from my friends in their 30’s that they are pickier than they were in the 20’s. I mean, you have your life together, you know what you want, and more importantly what you don’t want. I suppose the guys are the same way too. Strange that they are more afriad of committment than guys in their 20’s….
You’re absolutely right. As much as I hate the games, they’re the only thing on. Even in my last major relationship, where we never even told each other “I love you,” I felt 50 times freer to express how I felt, and the man (in his 20’s) was more emotionally available. Everyone is so guarded; why is it so difficult now when we’re supposed to be older, wiser and more confident? And I mean to put blame on men and women pretty evenly in this case – I’ve been known to fear/avoid commitment as well.
Now you KNOW this is my field. 🙂 If I didn’t tell you yet, my 25 (now 26) year old have . V, he has come back with a vengence! We are what we are, but I can tell you this, it’s simple and easy. No drama, just good times together and mind-blowing sex. Why does it work? My opinion is that the younger men want to do all they can to impress an older women, to essentially prove that they can handle it. Show me little boy, show me! Luv ya girl!
Ok, HTML won’t let me use the less than, more than signs….what I was saying is that he and I have “reunited and it feels so good”. 😉
Oh dear GOD. This post was both heartbreaking and brilliant, and now I am trembling in fear of what’s to come (I’m still in my 20’s). Like I should run out, find the first available, decent guy, and get hitched before they all become psycho assholes.
Do you all remember thinking at 25, “This will get better in my 30’s… things will be clearer then.” Or is that just me? Because it IS me. And me is hyperventilating.
I think I actually got this off of one of those “fresh ink” Hallmark cards – the answer to this, I believe, is:
“Yes, I have baggage. But at least it’s really cute and matches!”
Guys don’t have baggage until they’re 30 or so, and then it takes them another decade to get it to coordinate. Or something. Good point, though.
I must be totally lost because while everyone seems to confirm the Velvety sentiments in this post, my experience differs dramatically. I am often told by women that they PREFER to date guys in their 30’s because it takes at least that long for a guy to get his shit together. I hear things like “Guys in their 20’s do not understand commitment or responsibility” or “They are not interested in anything serious” or “They do not know what they want”.
At the ripe old age of 38 I agree that I finally do know what I want from most aspects of life, including what I want from a partner and a relationship. I feel like I am not only more open and honest with my emotions, I am able to communicate much more effectively. This certainly WAS NOT the case when I was in my 20’s.
In fact I have most success with younger women (20’s) who seem frustrated by the games that are played by guys in their age bracket.
I do agree about becoming more “picky” or selective as we age. It can make dating very difficult!
And as far as having “baggage”… women seem to have it from age 20 up in to their late 60’s!
Amen to ALL of the above!! I myself, had a one date rule and I usually found out all I needed to know in the first five minutes. I also found the opposite to be true (about men not wanting to be “bagged”)- I ran into a lot of: Men thinking that I was “the one” b/c I fit some laundry list in their heads- Of course, on the first date that pretty much translates into- “*Insert Name Here*-I have no interest in finding out who you REALLY are, I’m going to go w/ who I THINK you are and we’re al good. Wanna get married?” Needless to say.. No thanks!
~Fab : )
Btw- Also, got your e-mail- Thanks for the blog interest : )~
Try here http://singlegirlblog.blogspot.com/
Siryn – Yeah, I’m not sure what the answer is to all this. I just know there’s a problem, and it took me a while to put my finger on it. For a while I thought that men just pursue younger women more hardcore because they think they will give up the sex easier, but who knows. I’m clearly no expert.
MappyB – I think that no one expects a guy who is 24 or 25 to “settle down.” So women don’t make demands like that of them.
La Whisky – Yeah, I’m looking back over the guys I’ve dated, and the ones younger than 30 were totally different. They would act now and think later, if at all.
MellyMel – Aww! Good! I’m glad to hear he’s back!
Glitterati – Well, no. I never thought that, but mostly because I thought the ex and I would be married. But as I said in my email to you, I’m not sure if I would have been better off “finding him” in my 20’s and growing together as opposed to knowing that I’m more set in my ways now and he would have to adjust to me, and I to him, etc.
Buttercup – So I should be shooting for 40+?
Cosmic – Obviously these are not hard and fast rules. Just my experience. You say “everyone” confirms my stance, but note that “everyone” are all female, until you my dear. What you say is true for you, but not the majority. And your success with younger women is to be expected. And proves my point exactly. If you dated a woman in her mid-30’s, what would the outcome be? Would you find her set in her ways, would you two scuffle about things? Would she find your lack of return phone call (b/c you are busy) a turn off? All of this plays well to indicate that maybe what we need here is a 10 year age difference in dating?
I’m 33, and most guys 38 who want kids wouldn’t want to deal with me. They think, “Okay, she’s 33, a few years of dating / marriage, she won’t be ready to have kids until 36 and we could have problems. But if I go with this younger girl…”
It’s a catch 22 I tells ya!
And your last comment about us having baggage from 20 – 60? I’m going to slap you for that!
Great post…although I have to say that if there are MORE games in their 30s then gd help all of us twentysomethings bc I feel like most guys I meet in the twenties fall into two categories:
Want to get married soon
Don’t want to get married and play a million games and are learning HOW to date properly.
Hm…I hope for my sake that dating gets easier as a 27 yr old recently out of 7 yr relationship. SCARRRRRRRRRRRRRY.
40s? Oh no–it might be time. 🙂
Good post my love! I really enjoyed it.
Having only sampled guys in their 20’s, and only crushed on guys in their late 20’s/early 30’s…then I can’t really say much here.
I do think though, that it depends on the guy…20 year old’s play plenty of games too, they just aren’t as good at it.
I have found though, that an alarming majority of guys (note, not men haha) my age DO want to settle down and get married already. And the girls? Not so much. It’s kind of weird.
Personally, I think that girls saying (and even me sometimes) that they don’t want to get married right away is a pre-defense mechanism for the fear that they won’t be married by the time they’re 30, or 35, etc…
But then again, what do I know? 🙂
This is what happens when y’all think the sun shines out of your collective vaginas when you are 18.
Payback! My little pretties.
The older y’all get, the lex talionis is even sweeter!
And that’s why I give my 27 year old extra chances (he’s reading this over my shoulder and grinning) and patience.
May I throw in my feelings? A PLACE changes a man. The type that is fighting the DC housing bubble, has a fancy car that he only drives to impress the ladies, and is up to his eyeballs in debt, OR a huge hater because he’s not a winner by DC standards is sooooo not for me.
Men are different in different places. Maybe yours is in AZ.
Seriously … I couldn’t go through this again. I’m so glad I’m not in that scene anymore. Really.
I agree that men are different in different places. Several friends of mine have noted that men are either still frat boys here in DC, or they are adults raising families. I don’t know what it is about this city, but it’s true. There is no middle ground.
Which is one reason I am moving back up north (I, too, am from CT). I’ve had enough of the southeast. I want to be where people keep it real.
Wow… I wasn’t really scared to hit my 30’s until now. I am definitely like the 25 y.o. that you described, but I just hope that I don’t turn into the 35 y.o.!!!
It’s funny–a while back after deciding to end my self-imposed dating hiatus I thought it might be nice to date men in their 30’s (I was 28 at the time). I really found little difference between them and men in their 20’s. The only key difference I discovered was that men in their 30’s seem a whole lot more resigned to being players than their younger counterparts. Like they’ve accepted it as their lot or something.
Great post! As a 20-something who is dating a 30-something, my sentiment is that baggage, while it’s not always fun, is a small price to pay if it causes someone to be more in tune to what he/she wants. However, as you’ve pointed out, it usually results less in clarity and honesty and more in game-playing and insecurity. Pity.
I also find the statement that “A PLACE changes a man” to be interesting. True, but does a place not also change a woman (and not always for the better)? Surely we are not impervious to such things.
Very interesting discussion!
Let me first say, that men in their 40’s can suck too (just ask Buggie)–just like this, if not worse.
Things I do like about men in their 30’s, is the sense of self…most of those that I’ve encountered are no longer trying to find themselves. I’ve found it easier to put off sex with older guys than the younger ones — but maybe that’s me and my growing comfort level with saying no.
But agreed, in a major way, I am sick of the games.
It’s all a crap shoot. Don’t get anywhere if you don’t try. Might get nipped if you do. Nothing is logical about love. No cut a dry formula. It’s quite a slippery slope. Have I used enough euphemisms yet? Between you and me-I’ve run out of energy, I have fought the good, fight-oops here come some more,and have failed miserably. I’m telling you all, stay single, sample the candy box!!
I disagree Velvet!!
It all boils to this.
All the good ones are gone by age 30. Yep, your horny sistas have snatched em all up.
Congratulations on our lemon.
and by our i mean your
” Shhhh(as hes unbuttoning your jeans.”
I dunno, that one seems for any age;)
Damn, I need to get moving then before my twenties are gone!
so where did that guy you watched work his “magic” at bar pilar fit in?
There’s nothing wrong with trying. You should, with men in their 40’s and 50’s. But in my experience, they often come with more baggage, than men in their 30’s. If someone is not married by age 40 or 50, you’ve gotta wonder why. But then again, I can’t speak for all experiences, only my own.
It’s always nice reading your blog. I think you did a really good job summarizing the differences between men in these two age groups.
I hate to sound so lame, but girl, the right one will come some day. In the meantime, it doesn’t hurt to explore and have fun!
I actually held back writing on this one, before I talked to some others in my social circle. I think even by their twenties, they have developed a shell and start that “remove.” So I was going to say “in their teens they still leave their hearts open,” but after talking to some 16 year olds, I’ve been told THEY are having problems with guys asking them out…only the hook up, “I’ll see you there,” etc. Le sigh. By the way, I showed this blog entry (and comments) to some guys, and they highly disagreed saying, “All men aren’t like that,” just to show that some men think they are leaving themselves open and vunerable.
Velvet – You’ve nailed it right on the head! It’s ALL soooo true! I agree with you 1000%
I find myself getting pickier and pickier and dating is becoming more more frustrating. But I haven’t given up hope that my soulmate is out there ….somewhere.
KassyK – HA! I was in a meeting all day today with about 30 consultants we’ve hired for a project, and I spied two of them, both probably nearing 50 and I spent the whole damn day trying to decide which one was better looking. It’s a toss up. But the result of that is that: Yep. I could do it. Piece of cake.
AM – GOD! People discussing marriage in their 20’s? Jesus. The 20’s are so great, and you only get to be 20 something for 10 years! Why would anyone want to waste it?
BP – Some days I like you. Most days I hate you. This would be one of those days.
Playful – I love what you said. You are right. SO RIGHT! We’re all a bit guilty of this though. I have stopped trying as hard here. I went out the other night in flip flops! HA! And I’m ADDICTED to heels. But I figured, “Who cares. All these guys that talk to me are shorter than me anyway, so why bother?” Yup. Me and adidas flip flops. I’d never pull that shit in another city with fresh inventory!!
Mel – You are right. Be glad you are where you are. It sucks on this side. Sex and the City tried to glamorize it, but frankly, it’s a bore.
Garfield – You too are right. There is something about this city that just makes people mean. Where in CT are you from? I swear that state is so small I could possibly know you!
Tyler – If you are aware that guys in their 30’s work harder at “the game” then you won’t become that. My brothers didn’t. They are still genuine. Of course I’m biased, but you should be too! My brother is a hardcore Steelers fan!!!
Hey Pretty – Yup. At times there can be very little difference. But the older guys really force that game down your throat a little more.
Betty Joan – I like the “place changes a man” thing. And I did admit to Playful above that I am just now realizing that I’m trying less. I used to be so happy and “out there” and say hi to all, and now, I just walk my dogs and look down at the sidewalk. Because I’ve become that person. The city bitch. The one that just doesn’t care.
Marci – But if the guy in his 20’s is just after sex, and you don’t give it up right away, doesn’t he just take off and find someone else? These young’uns are about instant results! (I smack my hand while I say this!)
Old Lady – I’m not really in a hurry to settle down. Shit I’d take a decent boyfriend who calls when he says he will, who isn’t a fucking psychotic bipolar baggage riddled mess, and who I can have sex with. Shit. Is that so much to ask?
Johnny – Stop that! You can’t really think all the good ones are gone by 30!!
Scarlet – yeah, but that line still makes me laugh. Like they think if they distract you you’ll forget that they are forcing your zipper down.
Sweet – Or you could just date younger!
Double O – Tough to say. He seemed like a nice guy, probably around 30, and also seemed like he was waiting on a girl, any girl, to pay attention to him. With that sort of desperation, all bets are off.
French Cafe – He’ll come along or he won’t. Then I can spend all my money on myself! I tried to summarize the guys based on my own experience. I’m not sure it applies to all men, and that we as women aren’t to blame for some of it. I could post more and more on this topic probably. And I might.
Cube – Hmm. Is some of what the teens are facing because of insecurity and immaturity? And do you think the guys you asked just don’t see it but it’s there, or that they specifically are not like that?
Rebecca – I was addressing the others and didn’t get you in time! Anyway, I think I might post a follow up based on all the comments etc. I’m not sure what happens as we hit 30. Are we really fine tuning what we want or is the baggage of relationships-past building up so much that we can’t see through it?
You crack me up V.
Your post was our dinnertime topic of conversation. As much as I can see the stereotypical guys behaving just as you described, my husband argued that these types exist in all age ranges. So maybe the trick is to look for the exception to the rule.
They exist. The guy whose wedding party I attended yesterday is in his fifties, just married for the first time, and is a terrific catch. Maybe skip the 30s?
Velvet: To answer your question, I do think it is as you say, as loathe as I hate to admit it, but from what I hear and witness on the social front, this is how it goes. I think the men I spoke to about it don’t like to think men can be that way. As for Barbara’s friend who married in his 50’s…what was he waiting for? That’s another theory. Guys want fresh meat and to play the field until the field has totally exhausted itself. THEN they get married…and to someone younger.
shit i’m 27 and can’t get a date to save my life. i’d settle for a game playing girl at this point just to have some steady ass. however, i was attempting to court a 35 year old woman and i have to say, she was a lot more lax in certain areas (my loud mouth and drunk ass) but in other areas she was worse than a 25 yo. (kinda jealous, HIGH DRAMA, plus the baggage of kids and an ex) it’s no win. ahh well, time for some self love.
Simple solution boys and girls, do not engage anyone who was born and/or raised in the Western World! They are all fucked up. There are a few exceptions, but not many.
I hate you too Velvet.
I’ve discovered that in love, you really do need to be very careful what you wish for, because you’re likely to get it – and then some. I know that if I set my sights on a particular age range, I’d meet a guy who fit those criteria – who would likely wind up being a stalker/alcoholic/abuser/addict with bad shoes.
And I simply can’t handle a guy with bad shoes. I honestly think it’s all about the individual, though. Favorite Ex is 3 years my junior, so go figure.
Perhaps it’s not age, but culture.
I recommend trying an import.
The more I read the comments and think about this, I have come to realize that maybe it’s too hard to group people like that. Because there are always exceptions to the rule. There are guys in their 30’s who act like guys in their 20’s and vice versa.
Maybe always write is on to something in that it’s a culture thing. But I would maybe instead of saying culture, say it could be about one’s upbringing.
With imports, Always Write, the problem of how to get parts arises. Pricey and with constant supply issues.
See why I love what you write? Because it sounds so true to all of us single girls. I’m about to cross into the “30s” box in a month and already know what you are talking about. Thanks for being able to put into words what I sometimes cannot.