30 Lessons I Could Have Only Learned About Dating After Turning 30

by Zara Barrie
Nataša Mandić

It's no secret that I've become very smug since turning 30. Look at my smug 30th birthday mirror selfie:

Disgusting, isn't it? The moment I put that DVF slip dress over my newly 30-year-old body, I felt an electric shift in energy. Suddenly, I felt like a WOMAN.

I know it sounds melodramatic, but I swear to sweet baby Jesus, I felt a power, baby. A magnetic prowess that I'd never felt before.

And on my birthday, as I gazed into the gorgeous view of Manhattan from the Boom Boom Room at the glam Standard Hotel and felt super sweet champagne bubbles sift down my throat, I thought to myself, Damn girl. It's been a rough ride, but we survived.

As I locked lips with my fab, sexy, new crush sometime around midnight, right there on the rooftop of Le Bain, I had a not-so-subtle word with myself: Girl, we are never going to the dark side of dating again. You hear? It's kisses on chic rooftops, not fights in dive bars ANYMORE.

I've been thinking about dating a lot since then. See, I dated a lot  in my 20s. I dated men, and I dated women (until I realized I only wanted to swim in the lady pond). I dated people who were lovely and people who were venomous. I broke hearts, and I had my heart broken. And I learned an incredible amount about the most complex subjects of all: SEX and LOVE.

All the blurry lines have come into crystal clear view since I turned 30. Here are 30 lessons about dating I've learned since turning (a smug) 30 years old:

1. Love is more powerful and more real when it's a slow burn, not a rapid fire romance. Rapid fires always end in wild flames. And wild flames will kill you.

2. Never date someone who doesn't absolutely adore your family.

3. Never date someone who doesn't make an effort with your friends.

4. Never date someone who's trying to rescue you (you don't need to be rescued, babe).

5. Never date someone who's desperate for you to rescue them (they need to learn to rescue themselves, babe).

6. Only be with someone who's deeply invested in your orgasm. Never be with a selfish lover who only cares about their own pleasure.

7. Never be with anyone who shames you for your illicit, weird, kinky sexual fantasies.

8. Date the person who really, truly listens to you.

9. Love is a give and take. Invest only in the person who's equally invested in you.

10. Love is feeling both amazingly safe and madly excited at the same time.

11. If you adore someone, but aren't fueled with relentless desire to fuck the shit out of them all the time, you should just be best friends.

12. If he or she is a bad kisser, he or she will be really terrible in bed.

13. Don't stave off having sex to manipulate a person into liking you.

14. Don't have sex with someone when you're not ready because you think that will make that person like you more.

15. Don't ever use sex as a tool to get what you want.

Love is a slow burn, not a rapid fire romance. Rapid fires always end in wild flames. And wild flames will kill you.

16. Intimate love sex is super vulnerable and scary, but incredibly powerful.

17. Drunk sex is fun, but will always be slightly sloppy and disconnected.



20. Don't stop wearing bright red lipstick because you're scared of getting it all over your lover's face. The right person will feel grateful to have your bright red lipstick kisses all over their face.

21. Try not to split the check, at least in the very beginning. It's wildly unromantic, and you're dating; you're not friends.

22. Never, ever, ever stop making out. It keeps the romance alive, is a sexy throwback to young love and you can communicate through kisses like nothing else. Kisses are the perfect combo of both innocent and hyper sexual.

23. Dump him or her if he or she doesn't like going down on you. It's a metaphor for something deeper, I promise. RUN.

24. If someone tells you they love you on the first date, RUN FOR THE HILLS.

25. Stay away from the following personality types: narcissists, sociopaths, sexists, bigots, people with big tempers, people with mean streaks, people who are controlling, people who don't have sex drives, active drug addicts (I know it's hard, but you're signing up for a lot), and people who talk shit about their best friends/family. Oh, and people who wear light jeans. There is always something off about people who wear light jeans.

26. If your partner's smell or taste repels you, you don't have chemistry, regardless of how sweet they are.

27. Dump them, RIGHT NOW, if they don't respect or understand your career.

28. Dump them, RIGHT NOW, if they tell you you're too fat, too skinny, too weird, too freckly, too pale, or too much. Delete their number and never look back.

29. Keep cultivating the healthy relationship you have with yourself. Because two healthy entities who have weathered the storm of LIFE as independent creatures will fall in love for the right reasons. They won't be falling in love to fill a void, or because they're afraid to be alone, or because they're looking to you to remedy some childhood trauma or something. They will fall in love with YOU as a fully realized individual, and you them. This way, you will never feel like you NEED them, and you won't fall into the trap of codependency. You will be with them because you WANT THEM, and that will make all the difference.

30. Love at first sight doesn't exist. It's just lust. Don't confuse lust for love. Remember: You can't love someone you don't know.

Oh, and one MORE THING: If someone is really nice to you, and treats you, and takes cares of you, and listens to you, and respects you, and makes you laugh -- don't run for the hills because it's unfamiliar.

If you've been in toxic relationships like I have, it's really scary when you meet someone who is actually nice. It makes you feel vulnerable and it can take time to get used to it.

But take a deep breath, and trust it. Breaking patterns is scary, but once you break them, you're free. And only when you're free can you fall into the real arms of love.