By: Angie Sadhu, MS LMFT
It is well researched that as human beings we are biologically wired for emotional connection, and that “Emotion is the messenger of love; it is the vehicle that carries every signal from one brimming heart to another. For human beings, feeling deeply is synonymous with being alive” (Lewis et al., 2000, p. 37). Simply put, we need social connections to live well—to love and to be loved. The dating
ritual is one way in which we strive to
meet partners and develop relationships
to fill the desire for intimacy and love.
For those of us who are in our mid to late 30s and 40s, we can probably recall a time of meeting potential dates face-to-face within our social circles such as schools, churches, neighborhood bars and hobbies/interest clubs. Or, even on the subway and bus. However, things have changed since the late 90s and early 2000s. It’s the digital age and the norm is dating apps.
A quick search on Google yields many different dating apps and tips for having successful online dating experiences. In making sense of all the information and talking to fellow thirty something year old, a few key insights emerged that could be helpful in navigating the online dating scene and for developing meaningful and fulfilling relationships.
Quality vs. Quantity
In your 30s, you are not quite the same person you were in your 20s. You have grown, acquired life experiences, established a clearer sense of yourself, and developed a better idea of what a good relationship means to you. Similarly, your likes/dislikes, expectations, deal breakers, and the qualities you appreciate in a partner may have evolved over the years. Therefore, the quality of the relationship may matter in your 30s more than quantity. For example, in your 20s, deal breakers tend to surround minor things such as taste in music/hobbies and simple annoyances.
Things change in your 30s and more significant deal breakers are identified. Conversations about marriage, children, home ownership, religion, and career are to be expected earlier on in the dating experience. As a result, you may to want to be mindful and date someone who shares similar life goals as you. You may also know sooner if it’s a good fit.
Because online dating gives you more options, the quantity of choices can be overwhelming. To help you sift-through the plethora of options:
Creating a Connection
Regardless whether you met online or the old fashion way, the key to creating a genuine connection with someone is to be yourself and let them be themself. It is easy to start trying to change someone into what you think they should be. We want to be able to see how the person authentically is, because that is who they will be inevitably.
Second, an important question to ask yourself is “how do you emotionally connect with someone?” In his book The 5 Love Languages, Gary Chapman outlines five ways we show love and connect with others. They are: through small gifts, spending time together, offering positive affirmations, touch, and doing acts of service. Keeping these in mind help you think about how you feel connected to someone as well as think about how they feel connected to you. Having an understanding allows you both to express your connection in a way that will be pleasantly interpreted by one another.
Because life gets busier as you get older, you have little time for “games.” Therefore, in your 30s, it not necessary to adhere to old dating rules. A more direct approach can help you with establishing a connection. For instance:
Meeting potential dates and friends in your 30s can be tough, because you pretty much have settled into a lifestyle. Nevertheless, there are opportunities for fun and play along the journey. For example:
Lewis, T., Amini, F., & Lannon, R. (2000). A General Theory of Love. New York, NY: Vintage Books
Chapman, G. (1992). The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Last. Chicago, IL: Northfield Publishing