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10 Things Only People Over 30 Know About Dating

A writer offers words of wisdom about bad sex, indecision, and learning to love yourself.
 
 
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1. There is no carrot.

I always thought of myself as being incredibly strong. I ride a motorcycle, I always stand up for the underdog and I never wince during a bikini wax. But when it comes to sharing what is in the wells and valleys of my heart, I am like a goddamn marshmallow. There is a reason for this dichotomy. I didn't grow up in an environment where I had a safe place to be emotionally vulnerable. I'd wager that the majority of us do not. So to be able to croak out phrases like, "I need help," or "I love you" to someone that matters takes battalions of inner strength. But it takes even more courage to say the words and not be tied to the outcome or the carrot. Uttering the words is the lesson and end, in and of itself.

2. Expect to be disappointed.

I'm pretty laid-back when it comes to most things in life -- the exception being my record collection, which is dorkily arranged by decade and genre. (Yes, Nick Hornby is my soul brother). My interests and experiences are also rather varied, so when it came to dating in my post-collegiate years, I was pretty compatible with whomever came across my path. Whatever his disposition or lifestyle -- night owl, outdoorsy, intellectual -- I simply adjusted. But as I got older, dates became more of a chore, and I left them feeling deflated rather than elated. I didn't understand what was happening. Was the thrill of discovering someone new gone? Had I become less interesting? Why did I find so many men disappointing? The answer (I came to in retrospect) was that the guys hadn't changed, I had. As I got deeper into my thirties, my values were no longer the ones I was raised with, and my life purpose and interests became far more defined. Consequently, there were far fewer men who were going to fit into my parameters. And that's OK. Because after a life of expansion, while it seems contradictory, zeroing in on your passions and the people who share them will actually expand your life and broaden your horizons.

3. One day he will treat you like the waitstaff.

I went on a few dates with a guy who, while adoring and attentive to me, was short with our waiter. He never said thank you or looked him in the eye. It was if my date was Cleopatra, and the waiter was simply there to wave him with a palm leaf. And it bothered me. Then about a week later, we got together after work. He was in a bad mood after a long day, so I offered to pick up dinner. His retort was short, brusque and entitled -- just as he'd been with the waiter. You can tell a lot about a guy by the way he interacts with his mother and the elderly. But pay particular attention to the way he interacts with people in the service industry, because when he's feeling off his game, that's how he'll treat you one day.

4. Bad sex happens to good people.

I used to think that having intense chemistry on a date meant it would then spill into the bedroom. I discovered this wasn't this case after a three-hour dinner wherein my date and I couldn't help but finish each other's sentences while staring longingly into each other's eyes. When we got home, buttons went flying, we fell into each other's naked embrace and proceeded to have sex that felt like a symphony playing without a conductor. While our emotions and communication were in sync, our bodies were most definitely not. I can't speak for every woman, but for me, sex is not like pizza -- meaning, it's not always delicious. If it's not akin to a glass of well-aged Rioja -- spicy, tantalizing, with a good, strong finish -- then it's just better not to have it at all.

 
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