Tinder nightmares are so real that there’s an Instagram account dedicated to documenting the horrors, and it’s got over two million followers
Gone are the days of calling cards, roses, and romance. Or are they?
Is social media the new calling card? Is the eggplant emoji really just a virtual bouquet of roses that gets straight to the point? How does a single woman over thirty navigate the dating scene safely in the age of coronavirus, revenge porn, and Tinder nightmares?
It is a jungle out there, but don’t worry, it’s not all snakes and quicksand. Now that you’re in your 30’s you’ve got the confidence, experience, and tools you need to find your ‘Tarzan’, or ‘Indiana Jones’, or ‘Indiana Jane’.
Here are some top tips on navigating the ‘jungle’ while dating in your 30s:
1. Don’t waste time pretending to be someone you’re not
Make your intentions clear right from the start. If you’re looking for a long-term relationship, don’t create a false impression in your online profile just to ‘hook’ potential suitors. You’ll waste your valuable time and expensive makeup on ‘insubstantial’ dates that lead nowhere. Get a friend to help you put your profile together. They will identify positive attributes that you might not have thought of, and they will make sure you put your best foot forward.
“I was very honest about the fact that I was a single mom, right from the start,” says Chloe* who has recently become engaged to the man she met on an online dating site. “I was clear in my profile that I hoped to find someone with the same values and beliefs. Someone that would accept the fact that I was a ‘package deal’.”
Chloe advises women to share honestly, but not in too much detail.
“Don’t share photographs of your kids until you really know the guy. Don’t give too much detail on where you live or work. Make sure that he really is the kind of person you’d like to meet, and then organise a lunch date somewhere public. Take things slow so you can suss out the situation and make sure you are safe.”
Here are the sort of things you should look for when browsing through a potential partner’s profile:
- Look for someone whose profile is similar to yours – shared values and beliefs
- Look for someone who doesn’t seem to have an inflated ego or is just interested in a fling (unless that’s your thing)
- Look for flexibility – not someone who has formed an idea of their ‘perfect’ person and won’t budge. You’ll likely end up finding the ‘perfect’ person is based on their mother, and you don’t want to be competing with that!
- “Also steer clear of men that immediately make sexual overtures,” says Chloe.
2. Identify your deal-breakers and don’t compromise
Are kids out of the question? Would you move cities for love? What’s your religious standpoint? What are your relationship values? These are all questions that you can have answered before wasting time on a dead-end relationship.
“It doesn’t help to pretend to be someone you aren’t,” says Chloe. “You also have to be realistic. If you are dating in your 30’s, you are very likely going to find someone who has a kid/kids and possibly has been divorced. You need to think very carefully about whether these are things you can accept. They are not magically going to change.”
3. Explore some paid-for online dating options
Signing up to a paid-for service allows you to be more specific about what kind of relationship you’re looking for, and the algorithms will match you up with a pool of people who potentially have a lot more in common with you than just ‘living nearby’. Also, signing up to a paid-for service indicates that you (and potential suitors) are more invested in finding a long-term, fulfilling relationship.
“The option I used was Zoosk,” says Chloe. “I wanted a site that didn’t just rely on a photo.”
4. Take your experience with you, leave the baggage behind
You’ve kissed some frogs. You know what to look out for now. But make sure that you don’t allow your past experiences to have a negative impact on any future ones. When you meet a new potential partner, try to approach the relationship with a clean slate. Don’t judge them based on the behaviour of others. At the same time, trust your gut. If you’re not feeling comfortable, or something is ‘off’, swipe left and move on.
“You have to enter the experience with an open mind,” says Chloe. “You aren’t necessarily going to find Mr Right with the first message you send. Be patient. Listen to your ‘gut’. If he seems at all dodgy, steer clear.”
5. Have fun
Dating shouldn’t be a ‘chore’, or something you do because your mother can’t stop nagging about grandchildren. Explore new hobbies, try new sports, and ‘get out there’ in a way that also makes you happy and fulfilled whether you’re in a relationship or not.
Meeting someone doesn’t just have to happen online, you might just find ‘the one’ at your dinner club, or gym. Be open to opportunities.
“Online dating was an exciting new experience,” says Chloe. “I was very nervous about it too though and very aware that some people might judge my choice.”
But who can judge a happy ending?
Chloe and her partner got engaged during the lockdown period in South Africa, and are currently planning their wedding!
Jane has found her Tarzan.
*Chloe’s name has been changed to protect her identity and the identity of her child.