When you’re dating someone in your twenties, it’s allowed to be just that — dating. You can be in a relationship for six months, ten months, even two years and everyone accepts it as a trial period with no pressure of a happily ever after. People say things to you like: don’t worry, you’re young — you have all the time in the world. And when it ends, those people say things like: it’s okay — every relationship shows you what you do and don’t want in a partner.
And then things seem to change a bit when you hit your thirties. Everything apparently goes into hyper speed. People start asking if he is “the one” after only a couple months. They follow it with stories about how their thirty-something-year-old friend moved in with her now-husband after a month, or how someone’s thirty-something-year-old daughter got engaged after only a couple months.
They say things to you like: at this point in your life, you know what you want… and my personal favorite: you’re not getting any younger. Like married people have somehow stopped aging. No one is getting any younger!
And suddenly you feel this immense pressure to “just know.” Because that’s what everyone says — that at your age you should just know. Like the lessons have ended and it’s your final chance to take the test.
Well… I’m here to give you permission to ease off the figure-out-if-he’s-the-one pedal… pump the breaks even. Because I think amid all that pressure, it’s too easy to lose sight of the real goal.
There seems to be this underlying belief that if you find yourself single in your thirties, dating should almost be simpler. Like all your experience should have taught you how to figure someone out quicker, gauge compatibility sooner, and decide if he checks enough boxes faster. It’s like all the collective years of dating other men should somehow count for dating a new man… having known them is supposed to provide some incredible insight into knowing him.
But that isn’t really giving said man a chance. And it certainly isn’t giving you a chance.
Sure, ex after ex may have taught you a thing or two about what you want in your forever person. You may be able to paint the perfect mental picture of Mr. Right, complete with humor, smarts and philosophical ideals. But don’t equate how quickly you can see it in your head to how quickly you can see it in someone else.
Think about it — just because you’ve been driving for 15+ years doesn’t mean you walk into a dealership and just know a car is the one after looking at it for two minutes. You still need to test drive it — see how it feels and how it makes you feel.
Every relationship is different. And every person comes with their own set of intricacies — from how they live their life to how they view their life… from dreams and goals to fears and failures. And I will argue that with time, these intricacies become even more intricate. Because they’ve been through more and likely seen more… as have you.
You’ve seen friends’ marriages fail, showing the complexity of compatibility and how now isn’t always a sure fit for forever. Maybe you’ve seen — or participated in — an affair (or two), proving the delicacy of trust and the trials to rebuild it. I’m sure you’ve heard countless complaints from colleagues to close friends about the myriad of marital pitfalls. Are you a little jaded? Some may say so. But I argue you are educated… and knowledge is power. It may make your search for “the one” more complicated… but maybe that’s okay. Because forever isn’t simple.
So yes, you’ve likely worn your fair share of bridesmaids’ dresses and you may feel like you are behind. Please don’t. You still have the right to get to know each relationship and all its intricacies… no matter how long it takes. You still have the right for the trial period. And you still have the right for it to end as another lesson to carry with you in your quest for Mr. Right. Just because your journey is longer, doesn’t mean you should take any short cuts. You still have time to enjoy the ride.