The (Not So) Curious World of Dating in Your 30s – The Bold Italic
narcissism

The (Not So) Curious World of Dating in Your 30s – The Bold Italic

I do what I want, when I want, with whom I want

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

Medicated hemorrhoid wipes lined his bathroom counter—at least 11 packages in total spread out as if they were potpourri and not just the uncleanly laziness of a San Francisco–hating, 24-year-old Bostonian named Ronald.

He was a writer. I was a writer. We met on Tinder. I was intrigued by our sameness and curious about his mommy issues and aversion to sharing desserts. He ghosted me after I confessed my love for him in an email. Soon after the silence ensued, I learned of a shooting in his neighborhood and was certain he was dead, because I couldn’t fathom another reason why he would ignore me.

This is the pinnacle of dating in your 20s — quenching every curiosity or notion of one you can grasp. Collecting life experiences, like you’re writing pages for a book, and you’re only on chapter 2. You kiss your guy friend on the roof because it’s Valentine’s Day. You dry-hump a World Series poker player on a mattress on the floor, not because you necessarily like him, but because you can. You date the wrong people. And the very, very wrong people.

During this decade, most of your friends aren’t married or holding you hostage for six to nine weekends a year in the name of matrimony.

In your 20s, you’re not scared of any of this, but you’re caught up in it. You’re bold, vulnerable and a messy tangle of uncertainty and carelessness that overrules bedtimes and long-term-partner potential.

And it’s not hard to understand why—you haven’t been hit by the onslaught of disappointment quite yet. No one has broken your heart by moving to Idaho. No one has lied to you about their ex-girlfriend, saving her name in their phone as their best guy friend. No one has moved in with you, making you get rid of your record player because theirs was better.

Dating now requires more effort because the process isn’t so novel anymore. Curiosity and hunger for experience are no longer the drivers in these decisions.

During this decade, most of your friends aren’t married or holding you hostage for six to nine weekends a year in the name of matrimony.

Now, finding myself freshly in my 30s, I’m exhausted by it all. Finding boyfriends on dating apps, making out in dive bars, getting my heart broken, breaking hearts. I find myself internally saying, “We’ve done this before. We’ve been here before.”

In my 20s, my list included being cute and not a sociopath. Now I need to know if you eat vegetables and if you’re self-aware enough to know what your issues are and what you’re doing about them.

Dating requires more effort now because the process isn’t so novel anymore. Curiosity and hunger for experience are no longer the drivers in these decisions.

Now I’m deliberate in choosing whom to spend my time with, and I say no—often. No, I don’t want you to sleep over. No, I don’t want to sleep over, because you seem like you probably snore, and it’s a Wednesday. No, I don’t want to go out with you again.

And there are more criteria to be met too. In my 20s, my list included being cute and not a sociopath. Now I need to know if you eat vegetables and if you’re self-aware enough to know what your issues are and what you’re doing about them. In my 20s, I argued that you could spend an hour talking to anyone — it wasn’t a big deal. Now I know that I could, but I don’t want to.

I realize that this all sounds terribly un-fun, and sometimes it is, but then it’s also awesome since I’m not prioritizing pleasing some furniture-hating tech bro or unemployed guy named Russell with a hot dog tattoo (which was a cool tattoo). Instead, I’m prioritizing pleasing myself.

So, which is better: your unguarded 20s, where you’re hoping for an experience without regard to consequences, or your practical 20s, where you obey the three-drink maximum and value your sleep? It’s hard to say. There’s less life to the latter, but perhaps more beauty to it. To speaking up; to slowing down; to knowing what you want after collecting those experiences; to screwing a lovely man and then going home at 11:02 p.m.

As for Ronald, I just Googled him, out of curiosity, and discovered that he’s written a children’s book about a penguin who can’t find his butt. (I wonder if he uses medicated hemorrhoid wipes too.)

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