13 Differences Between Relationships In Your 20s & 30s

Life is pretty different when you’re comparing your 20s and 30s. When you’re younger, you’re still trying to figure out how to navigate the world as an adult and determine what you want within that world and how to get it. As you get older, you’re more financially stable, but also more emotionally and mentally stable — at least usually — and you know what you want, particularly when it comes to romance. Here’s how relationships are different in both decades because love definitely changes over the years.

1. What you prioritize is pretty different.

Dating in your 20s: You want passion. Love to you means butterflies and showing your love any time you can. If a relationship is getting stale, you might get fidgety because you’re less likely to be ready to settle down yet.

Dating in your 30s: You want stability. You’re doing pretty well by yourself, but you’re looking for a partner to build your life with. Only sharing sexual passion was okay when you wanted to have fun more than you wanted to build something long-term, but that eventually dies. You need something that’ll last.

 2. Sex

Dating in your 20s: You’re still experimenting and figuring things out. This is when you have enough time and energy to see what you like and what you don’t. You’ve probably had bad sex with guys more than you’ve had good sex, but it’s all part of the learning experience.

Dating in your 30s: You know what you like and what you want. You don’t have as much energy or time to waste, so you’re vocal about what you like. The sex is better because of this.

 3. Dates

Dating in your 20s: You’re trying to sniff out deals and do something affordable and fun. Since you’re just starting out, you’re probably doing more coffee dates to keep the costs down and secretly hoping your date is willing to open his wallet a bit, too.

Dating in your 30s: You’re able to step up your game and do classier (read: more expensive) things. Money is not as much of an issue. You’re more worried about what the person will be like than how much it’s going to cost you to go out. If it’s a dud, at least you can drink some high-quality wine to get through it.

 4. Self-esteem

Dating in your 20s: You change yourself to try to get a man to like you. You probably don’t notice yourself doing this, but it happens. If a guy says he likes a certain type of girl, you try to put on that façade, even if it’s not truly you. This tends to lead to heartbreak in the end.

Dating in your 30s: You change men until you find one that likes you. Because you’ve been there, and dating men who aren’t into you is overrated. You want someone who’s already on the same page as you instead of faking it.

 5. Patience

Dating in your 20s: You’ll give a dud more time just to see where it goes. The possibility that a guy will change is more likely to go through your mind, so you let things play out for a while. You feel uncomfortable cutting people off quickly.

Dating in your 30s: You’ll move on quickly once you get a sense things aren’t working. There’s no time to waste. You know what you want and if someone doesn’t already have their act together in their 30s, you immediately see that as a red flag.

 6. Other people’s expectations

Dating in your 20s: Everyone around you accuses you of rushing things in a relationship. If you try to mention the word “marriage”, people look at you like you have two heads. They are more likely to ask you why you’re in a rush and try to get you to slow down.

Dating in your 30s: Everyone around you says you’re not rushing things enough. People are more likely to ask if you want kids if you haven’t had any already. They try to set you up with someone and think they’re helping, but it just adds a lot of unneeded pressure.

7. Relationships with exes

Dating in your 20s: You recycle your exes because you think they’ll change. There’s that one ex that you tend to be constantly breaking up and getting back together with. You keep getting your hopes up that he’ll change, but you keep getting disappointed.

Dating in your 30s: You avoid your exes because you know they won’t change. Things didn’t work out for a reason and you’re very aware that it was a good reason. You’re much stingier when it comes to handing out second chances and you’re all about going forward.

 8. Hunting ground locations

Dating in your 20s: You try to find love in the club. You went out on weekends not just to have fun with friends, but to also find someone. You’ve had hookups that stemmed from the club, but it rarely went anywhere beyond that. Unsurprisingly, those guys weren’t looking for a real relationship.

Dating in your 30s: You try to find love anywhere but the club. Lasting relationships don’t usually result from places where everyone is drunk or on their way to being drunk. You’ve tried online dating and just meeting people the old fashioned way, and you’re sure it’ll pay off in the end.

9. Pregnancy

Dating in your 20s: You live in fear of an unplanned pregnancy. Whenever you’ve been a little late with your period, you’ve freaked out – and you take your birth control very seriously. You don’t feel ready to start motherhood at all.

Dating in your 30s: You live in fear of your ticking biological clock. Whether you want children or not, you’re kind of freaking out that nature will take the choice away from you entirely. If you do want kids, you do find yourself considering whether or not a guy you’re seeing will be a good father more than anything else.

 10. Drama

Dating in your 20s: You’re more likely to dump a guy because he’s boring. A guy can be great, but if he isn’t passionate or complicated, then you’re more likely to leave. You’re not trying to settle down – you want fun and excitement in your relationship.

Dating in your 30s: You’re more likely to dump a guy because he’s too much drama. You’re ready for “boring”, which is really just another word for drama-free. Instead of dealing with flirtatious guys that like to play head games, you want a guy who’s straightforward and caring.

 11. Online Dating

Dating in your 20s: You’re using free dating apps and sites. You’re not going to spend money for this when you can use things like Tinder and Plenty of Fish. You have other things to use your money on – you shouldn’t have to pay to find a guy.

Dating in your 30s: You are using services you have to pay for because you’re serious. You’re willing to invest money in finding a love that lasts, so you don’t begrudge paying out. Doing so helps weed out a lot of weirdos, so it’s well worth the price.

 12. Baggage

Dating in your 20s: You’re most likely dating people who have emotional baggage. The most you have to deal with is someone who is heartbroken from a previous relationship, or someone dealing with tough issues with their parents.

Dating in your 30s: You’re dating people with ex-wives and kids. Since you’re older, most people you meet have been through the marriage game before. You don’t rule these people out, because that would really dwindle your options. Plus, sometimes kids can be awesome!

 13. Jobs

Dating in your 20s: You hope the person you’re dating has some type of career goal. You hardly judge people you’re dating on the job they currently have, because everyone is just starting out. Instead, you care about where they want to be in the future.

Dating in your 30s: You hope the person you’re dating has a stable job. Sure, it would be nice if they have career goals, but if their job is stable, then you won’t really ask much more. If they don’t have their act together, however, you don’t feel bad about moving on.

Nicole Weaver is a staff writer for YourTango and regularly contributes to Hollywood, The Bolde, and Proud2BMe. She is a lover of all things entertainment meaning she spends most of her nights in New York binge watching television shows. Follow her on Twitter at @nikkibernice.