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When Ish Gets Real: 6 Tips for Dating in Your 30s

Being twenty eight days away from my 30th birthday has me on auto reflect. Suddenly, all of my past is visible in my rear-view mirror and I have a lead foot on the gas, desperate to get as far away from my misjudgments as possible. Driving in the direction of the “radically responsible adult,” I hesitate to consider what life looks like in my thirties.

And somewhere on that list is love. What does love look like in my thirties?

In my twenties, I haughtily professed to be a “serial monogamist, sexually fluid, detached, madly in love, free-spirited, polygamous, celibate until marriage, anti-committed” and the list goes on type of being. I lived boldly and experienced love in full color during my twenties. I found gratification in my ability to define relationships based on my own terms, even if the conditions changed with the wind. I was free to decide what to do with my emotions.

Then, along came my thirties and sh*t changed abruptly. Suddenly my almost 30-year-old self is trying to convince my 29-year-old self to get serious, because my biological clock is ticking and if dating isn’t going to end in marriage, it’s pointless. The scariest part is, I don’t want anymore children and my last love language bares a fondness for solitude.

I have sorted through the past decade of my dating inconveniences and conquests and decided that while there is a substantial number of mishaps that I will gladly leave in my twenties, there are some notable love lessons that I find to be valuable for the future.

1) Open the closet…

If you are anything like me, your twenties was the era of REALLY bad relationship choices. I mean if you don’t look at at least one of your exes in sheer disgust, you just didn’t do this dating thing right. The truth is, while you think know everything about life and love, it’s our greenness that allows us to fail. There is a period that you feel shame and remorse for your naive decisions, but eventually, you come to terms with those choices and make the decision that your life partner will either accept you as a flawed human being or not at all.

Maturity and transparency are essential if you hope to cultivate a fruitful relationship. I am now seasoned enough to accept my mistakes. In my thirties, I intend on snatching opening the doors of my closet and pulling all my skeletons out. My potential partner then has the choice to decide if they will accept me or not. However, the need to mask the ugly parts of my identity died in my twenties.

2) Getting my glass slipper…

Heartbreak can make you jaded, even when you believe you have done the necessary work to heal. I pride myself on not having a sour, furious attitude about love, despite being hurt. While I am not outwardly broken, internally, I have learned to trust love and lovers less and less over the years. Somewhere along the way, I convinced myself to shield me from emotional devastation by not investing myself completely into my relationships. That way, if my partner acted in a way that went against our commitment, I would be affected.

Dating in my thirties is about going back to my early twenties, a time when I still believed in “Prince Charming” and fairy-tale endings. I am not expecting men to show up in the full armor of God with a bouquet of hand-picked roses, but I am leaving the idea that I have to protect myself in relationships in my twenties. Instead, I am bringing innocence into my thirties. What if love doesn’t have to hurt? We shall see.

3) Partying like it’s 1999…

Being more conscious of my actions does not mean I plan to discard my wild and uninhibited spirit. Nope, that’s coming with. I am a spontaneous, unrestrained, and impulsive woman. I need to constantly feel the rush of life. Laughter, crazy nights, music, life, food, sex, and adventure will accompany me through life until my final day.

Refusing to be molded by the demands of my lover, I make it no secret that I am not a woman to be tamed, but to be enjoyed. This is of utmost importance to me because without these things, I will eventually wash out. Instead, dating will be more about finding someone just as crazy as me and less about having someone who watches from underneath the umbrellas as I dance in the rain.

4) Seek and you find

“Hide and Seek” is a universal adolescent game. The objective of the game is to conceal yourself from the chaser and when they get close, run. During my twenties, I mastered the game of “Hide and Seek.” I tucked myself away from people, especially anyone who expressed real emotions for me. If the pursuer did happen to find me cowering in my hiding place, I would bolt away at the speed of a track star.

“Hide and Seek” should be a nostalgic memory of childhood, not the behavior of adults. So, in my thirties I am bringing along the reminder that games are meant for children. Dating now is less about outsmarting and out running and more about being still. It’s about being grounded in self-love and viewing your lover as your teammate and not your opponent.

5) Life is Like An English Paper

English was the one class where in order to truly grow, your teacher had to show you your errors in a bold way. The red pen that marked up essays and reports brought felt like a dagger through the heart, but forced you to take a look at inaccuracies. The ability to correct yourself is a fundamental attribute of being a progressive person.

Accountability is a trait I acquired in my twenties that I refuse to leave. When a person is able to identity their wrongs and make appropriate corrections, they are more prone to change. The more a person improves themselves, the higher their standards. The higher a person’s standards, the less inclined they are to settle. Dating for the rest of my life will a declaration to only date if a person can contribute to my life in a extraordinary way!

6) That’s a duck

You know the saying, “If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s a damn duck.” I spent years trying to convince myself that ducks were jaguars or white lions, or something ferocious and worth marveling. I wanted so desperately to believe that past lovers were divine and with enough love and compassion, they could tap into their gloriousness.

If I don’t bring anything else with me into this new chapter of my life, I am bringing discernment. Discernment serves many purposes, but in the context of relationships, it serves two purposes. One, it allows you to look at a situation and person for who they truly are and not who you desire them to be. The ability to see people for who they are truly is grace and can prevent you from wasting a lot of time. Secondly, discernment keeps you for entering into treacherous situations.

Despite feelings of uncontrollable panic about having to get my life completely together in 28 days, I anticipate this next chapter of my existence to be the most remarkable days of my life. Turning 30 gives me an excuse to hit the reset button on defeating thoughts and attitudes. Free to leave my twenties with no remorse, I am fortunate to have all the necessary tools to navigate this crazy dating world as a grown ass woman! This should be fun!

Jazz Keyes is a community activist, poetess and a nationally certified Life Purpose and Career Coach. She has devoted a great deal of her time and energy on mastering the art of communication in order to create healthy, dynamic, long-lasting relationships. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter @jazzkeyes.