Now that I’ve settled into life past the 30 year old mark, I realize it’s not as old as it felt when I was sixteen. In fact, thirty has been a pretty good decade so far. Got rid of some carryover (carry-on?) baggage from my twenties and am happier than ever being single. It’s liberating, actually. I’m not sure exactly what it is. Like most things probably a combination of several factors.
First, the general self-esteem you get as you grow up. As your self-worth grows through compound interest and the time value of confidence, you realize not only do you not NEED anyone, but you also don’t want just anyone. This, my friends, is my favorite part of being over thirty.
Second, social pressures seem to ease a little. There are a few different kinds of pressure. Familial pressure (coming from parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles and all of THEIR frends) eases if you’ve been alone for awhile. The human brain is incapable of NOT adapting. If you’re alone for awhile, those who used to notice and comment simply stop noticing. Those who have parents whose happiness seems to hinge on their child getting married and having babies? I can’t relate, but empathize. Not sure if that ever goes away unless you pay for them to get therapy, or get remarried to someone else, or find something that will occupy them and make them happy.
The same general eventual adaptation to being alone happens with your friends, of course. But, the friends who were so pushy also start to see how great being single can be as opposed to marrying just anyone. Men complain about nagging, how much work parenting is, and joking (or not) about being single again/choosing better next time. Women are annoyed by filth, lack of intimacy/magic and being only a mom/wife, rather than her own person. While it’s always easy to think the grass is greener, there is often times a gap between the fantasy and reality of marriage and parenting, for both sexes. And on those days, they see how their ingle friends are genuinely happy and not crying themselves to sleep in a puddle of lonely misery.
And, finally, the more of us singles there are out there, and the more divorce numbers climb like STD rates, the more everyone appreciates holding onto your S card. Forever or until it’s right. Ignoring the social norms pushing us all toward marriage is a big relief on many people feeling like failures until they do get married.
Women feel this pressure in their twenties. Our self-worth is large defined by how desired we are by the opposite sex. If we are attached, we are valued, beautiful, respected and complete. If we aren’t courted, we are somehow appraised at a lower value. And through this time, the men are in a position of power. They have the ability to legitimize us as worthy or otherwise. This results in a lot of highs and lows based on a questionable resource.
However, as we move into our late 20s and see the marriages of our friends reach their five and seven year marks (and some fizzle out), we realize how important choosing the right mate is. We are also reaching a stride in our careers and generally are financially able to take are of ourselves, afford luxuries we used to think we needed a man to buy (or split the cost of – like vacations, rent, houses, cars jewelry). And it hits us – we can provide everything we NEED. And furthermore, why would we want to get in a relationship with a guy who could take it all away? Spending our nest egg, making our house smell like feet while hosting his friends very weekend because our place is nicer than his, then cleaning up their mess because he doesn’t gleam, picking up the tab because we earn more, being dragged down by a no-motivation, slacker, likely alcoholic momma’s boy. Yeah, suddenly our standards skyrocket to where they always should have been.
Meanwhile, these guys we used to put up with don’t know how to treat a woman respectfully, don’t know how to put in more work than a post-bar text, and suddenly find themselves alone when this no longer cuts it. They know there are smart, beautiful, interesting women out there, but they can’t seem to get their attention. They dip into the pool of younger girls for awhile. Then become desperate.
This happens generally around their 30th-35th birthday. They realize they’re getting “old” and are alone and the women they’re dating now aren’t as interesting at they used to be. Many of their buddies are married and that’s really how they always saw themselves anyway. They think, “OK, I’m ready.” But the girls of their dreams don’t crawl out of the woodwork like they always imagined. They start to panic. Try to settle with any girl who comes along. But their baggage they picked up in their twenties still follows them: drinking until they’re sloppy and belligerent is ok for a 22 year old, not a 32 year old, their dinky, dirty, grimy bachelor pad apartment near the bar district doesn’t scream sexy, and their inability to look forward in a career or be able to manage finances isn’t exactly quirky and sweet anymore.
Suddenly the tables have turned. Women don’t need men, and men are desperate.
It’s called poetic justice, people. And apparently it’s what your 30s are made of!
Author’s note: While I am cynical, I want to be fair. I know a plenty of women with the same issues I’ve listed freely as men’s issues. And also know just as many men who are great catches. The point is, I’ve noticed the trend of women getting into their thirties and approaching men the way men did in their twenties, and vice versa in men (who act now like we did in our 20s). This is a generalization for illustrative purposes.