When it comes to Love, Deborah Tan admits she can be rather draconian in her handling of it. But this, she says, is something that comes with age. Below, 9 things about Love she has learnt to do differently now that she is in her 30s.
No matter our age, no matter our relationship status, we all encounter issues in Love.
As I think back to the ways I dealt with crushes before turning 30 (I now cringe with embarrassment whenever I think about them), I realized that with age, one also begins to perceive and treat this thing called Love very differently.
For one, my women friends in their 30s seem to take things in their stride a lot better than my women friends who are in their 20s. While it could be a “Oh well, I’m already 30, there’s nothing I can change about that – might as well move on and have fun” mentality at work here, it could also be that once we are past the 3-0, timelines and milestones matter a lot less.
What else do women in their 30s do differently from those in their 20s when it comes to Love?
1. We have less tolerance for bullshit
When I first saw the movie “He’s Really Not That Into You”, I found myself annoyed with Justin Long’s character. Every time Ginnifer Goodwin’s character asks him about a new guy she’s seeing, he highlights the “warning signs” and tells her why the guy’s really not that into her. To me, at that time, it seemed awfully judgmental to so quickly dismiss the dude: Anyone could be THE ONE, right??? Fast forward two years later, when I caught the movie again on TV, I found myself agreeing with Long’s character. It’s true. With age, we really have less tolerance for bullshit behavior in men. If he likes you, he will do anything to be near/with/around you.
2. But it doesn’t mean we don’t have time for fun
While finding a meaningful, long-term, committed relationship is still something we want, we recognize that we would be missing out on a lot of fun if we only went out with men who seem most likely to want to be in a relationship with us. The pressure is also a lot less once you make peace with the fact that you also don’t want a relationship with just anyone you meet at a club.
3. We know what we DON’T want
At 18, my “Things I Want In A Partner” was a mile-long. I told myself I would NEVER fall for anyone who didn’t meet my requirements. At 25, the list was evenly split between the things I want and the things I don’t want in a partner. At 30, I realized that my list had morphed into a “Things I DON’T WANT In A Partner” list: I don’t want to date a psychopath. I don’t want to date a cheater. I don’t want to date a man with no ambition. This isn’t to say women in their 30s have zero expectations and have come to think we deserve less. 3 decades spent on this planet have taught us that nothing is ever quite it seems and, rather than set ourselves up for disappointment, why not just allow ourselves to be pleasantly surprised?
4. We compartmentalize
Younger, we allowed our lives to revolve around Love and, our ability to function and behave normally was pegged to the ups and downs of our relationships. Now that we are older, we have learned to not let matters of the heart interfere with our jobs, our social lives and our self-esteem. Yes, every argument with a boyfriend will sting, every moment of uncertainty will bug us like a mosquito bite on our palm, but still, we know Life goes on and the ability to go at it alone is what makes us strong and confident. And strong and confident is attractive.
5. We get over it … slightly faster
Heartbreak sucks. That chest-crushing feeling that your heart is about to implode from not having someone to love sucks. That overwhelming sense of loneliness that surrounds you every time you lie in bed thinking, “Why can’t he love me like I love him?” sucks. Women in their 20s get it. Women in their 30s get it. Women in their 80s get it. But Age teaches you to get over it fast because … see Point 1.
6. We are over “What if …”
As much as I detest cliches, there is some truth in the saying, “Don’t lose sight of the forest for the trees.” In my 20s, I was so afraid of being alone that it took me forever to break up with an ex I had stopped loving for some years. At that time, I was tormented with thoughts like, “What if he is the one?”, “What if I never find someone else?”, “What if I have already met and missed the person meant for me?” Entering my 30s, I decided that it’s no point obsessing over the What-ifs. The only thing you can do for yourself is to make the best of whatever situation you are in and hope that the best is yet to be.
7. We leave people who make us work for their love
Is it because of my looks? Is it because of my figure? Is it because of the way I talk? Younger, we saw ourselves as products that needed constant refinement, that we needed to be “improved upon” in order to be worthy of love. Women in their 30s have less patience for this. If a man ever makes us feel we are not good enough, we will simply move on to the one who does. This is ME – take it or be sorry that you have let me go.
8. We understand Love is more than just emo-ness
Emo-ness in movies sells tickets. Emo-ness in love songs is beautiful. Emo-ness in a real-life relationship? C’mon, it’s tiring and trying. We really don’t need this much drama in our lives. We don’t want to live in a HK TVB drama series. Your Love is not going to be any less real just because you are happy, just because you are not needy individuals addicted to private dramas and public meltdowns. Let’s spend our dramatic energy fighting things like people who abuse animals, people who assault women, and stupid people.
9. We get that people will love the way they want to
At the end of the day, people will love the way they want to, the way they know how to. It’s no point forcing them to be more clear-headed/level-headed/decisive/cruel because the heart works in such strange, strange ways. But to my friends who are still in their 20s and wondering why Love hurts so much, I can only say that what doesn’t kill you will make you stronger and that things do really get less scary in your 30s. This, and that I’ll always be here to annoy you with unsolicited love advice anyway.
Love In Lines is a special under the Relationship section of Material World. The four founders each takes a week in a month to talk about dealing with love from different perspectives. Founder Deborah Tan talks about the trials and tribulations of being newly married. Stay tuned for more!
About The Author: Deborah Tan is a founder of Material World. After 10 years of working in magazines Cleo and Cosmopolitan Singapore, she is now a freelance writer/editor who works on this website full-time. The eternal realist says while she enjoys a good drama on TV – she’s not a big fan of it in real life. Follow her on Twitter @DebTanTweets.