How Your Dating Life Changes From Your 20s To Your 30s

by Suzanne McKenzie
Kristin Rogers Photography

Let's get something straight: Dating can be challenging no matter how old you are. And by challenging, we mean it sucks. But only sometimes.

Can you tell that we have a slightly complicated relationship with the subject?

But if we know anything at all, it's that the dating experience is constantly changing. And this becomes particularly noticeable when you graduate from dating in your 20s to dating in your 30s.

Don't get us wrong — we're NOT talking about a “once you hit 30 all you care about is settling down and having babies” kind of change. Those who find themselves in the dating game when the big 3-0 rolls around have the somewhat unique experience of actually dating as 30-somethings. That ultimately means they've had some time to get to know themselves on a whole new level.

With age comes wisdom, even if it's just a few years. A lot can change in this short period of time — like your priorities, your life goals, how you see yourself — and that kind of personal growth can't help but lead to a bigger change in the way you approach the dating world.

And if you ask us, it's a change for the better.

Here are six ways that your dating life changes from your 20s to your 30s.

1. You cut to the chase early on.

In many 20-something relationships, the idea of bringing up heavy topics like career plans, financial health, or whether you want kids seems majorly cringe-worthy (and therefore super easy to avoid). Discover® and the Match Group conducted a study around finance and dating, and found that 60 percent of singles would rather talk about finance than exes on a first date.

But in your 30s, you tend to cut to the chase early on, getting the so-called hard stuff out of the way. At this point in your life, if feels fruitless to continue down a path with someone if you're not aligned on (at the very least) the big stuff.

2. You're way more honest.

Ah, the days of embellishing boring stories and pretending to be a fan of XYZ sport just to impress a potential love interest.

As you get older, you realize that little white lies and exaggerations only lead to wasted time and awkward moments of truth down the line. By age 30, you're bound to have been on the receiving end of some dishonesty from a partner, which ends up compelling you to become a better — and more honest — version of yourself.

3. You establish your non-negotiables — and then stick to them.

We all have that list in the back of our heads — the one with the traits of an ideal mate. And in your 20s, it's easy to abandon that list if you feel a spark with someone.

But by the time you hit your 30s, you've figured out what really matters to you. Whether it's a healthy credit score — the Discover® and Match Group study found that half of all women find a good credit score more attractive than a physically fit body — or a strong work ethic, you have the wherewithal to hold out for someone who checks ALL the boxes.

4. You gain a new kind of confidence.

Confidence comes in many forms, and you (hopefully) get to experience that in your 20s.

But there's a unique kind of confidence that comes along later in life, and that's what you start to see bubbling up when you're dating in your 30s. No, it isn't related to how you look or what car you drive — rather, it's a shift in attitude that comes when you've made peace with (and start to truly love) who you are as a person.

Once you realize what a catch you are, you start to demand more respect from the people you date, and in doing so, you end up weeding out the ones who didn't deserve you in the first place.

5. You stop playing games.

Between trying to make each other jealous and lying about your feelings so as to not appear overeager, people in new relationships play more games than professional athletes.

But these games tend to fall to the wayside when you're in your 30s because you have a firmer grasp on who you are and what you want out of a relationship. At this point, you don't really feel the need to indulge in petty dating politics.

And trust us, there's nothing better than that.

6. You stop caring about things that don't matter.

In your 20s, it's easy to spend your dating life obsessing over things that don't end up mattering much once you get a little older. Whether it's what college your partner attended or physical attributes like height or eye color, once you hit your 30s, you've had enough dating experience to realize that more often than not, those things aren't strong indicators of a successful relationship.

Your 20s are for figuring out exactly what you're looking for in a partner, so don't write off these years as a waste — just remember that your priorities will likely change as you grow in years and in maturity.

According to the Discover® and Match Group study, older Millennials are much more likely to share their credit scores on dating websites, which goes to show how much your values can change in just a few short years.

No matter what your dating age, the facts suggest that it's important to address certain things sooner rather than later. This could include your credit score. Discover offers a Free Credit Scorecard, and it won't impact your credit score. It's totally free, even if you aren't a Discover customer. Terms apply. Visit Discover to learn more.