This Is What I Learned About Dating In My 30s That I Wish I’d Known Sooner

Dating in my 20s was a real mess. Once I hit my 30s, I started to change the way I operated. It taught me some important things that I wish I’d known sooner, like these 10 things.

  1. How to spot a toxic guy. I fell for a guy who was so sweet and charming – only to realize later that he was toxic AF. I got my heart broken and I felt so stupid for falling for his game. Once I dated more and got more experience, I was able to spot those warning signs before getting too involved.  It was a life saver.
  2. How to trust my gut. It took me a while to listen to my inner voice, but once I did it I was so glad to have woken up. When I got those prickly feelings that a guy was up to no good or wasn’t as nice as he pretended to be, I listened to that voice. It was really about trusting my judgment, something I wish I’d done sooner.
  3. How to say no to guys who needed fixing. I used to be such a people pleaser, it was ridiculous. I’d feel like a horrible person if I said “no,” but learning that skill was a life-changer. It prevented me from bending over backwards for guys who didn’t even deserve my help and time, like those guys who wanted me to solve all their problems. The best route to happiness? Saying “no.”
  4. How to love my life without a guy in it. Ah, this was a biggie. I used to be obsessed with finding someone special. I wasted so many months of glorious single life trying to achieve this goal. Looking back, I wish I’d done something more constructive with all that beautiful time, like focused on my goals or had more fun, damn it.
  5. How not to fear that my 30s would be single and alone. It’s weird. When I was in my 20s I was worried that I’d be single forever. Once I hit my 30s, the fear started to go away. I didn’t care if I found my person or not. I just wanted to enjoy my life as much as possible. I guess I became much more comfortable in my own skin.
  6. How to know myself. When I felt more comfortable just being me, I could get to know myself a lot more. I took the time to do that and wish I’d done that in my 20s because I’d just been floating around the dating game like a lost little sheep.
  7. How to leave a guy and focus on myself. In my 20s, I prioritized all my relationships. I’d even pass up opportunities in my life in order to make my relationships work. Although that’s good and well, sometimes it can be a bad thing. When I got to my 30s, I realized that I had to be my own number one. Ending a relationship so I could travel was one of the best things I did for myself, and it was such an eye-opener for me because it showed me that focusing on myself was the most important thing.
  8. How to accept myself. In my 20s, I wasn’t comfortable with the fact that I didn’t like to party and do drugs like other people did, and I hated that I was so shy. I always tried to be different, but it backfired because I ended up never feeling happy. When I got older and wiser, I realized that I had to love myself first. That changed everything because it kept me away from unsuitable partners.
  9. How to set standards. I always thought I had standards, but I really didn’t when I was in my 20s. I was so used to trying to please guys and be loved by them that I totally neglected my needs and standards which should’ve been important to me. Damn. Looking back, I wonder what would’ve happened if I’d rocked those high standards from the start.
  10. How to stop trying so hard to impress. Throughout my 20s, I was dating with the aim of impressing guys and I didn’t even realize I was doing it. Basically, it was all about the guys and what they wanted. What BS. As I got older, I started to realize that I mattered. Instead of impressing guys, I was looking for guys who’d impress me for a change. It was empowering to turn the spotlight onto myself for a change instead of giving guys all the power.
Giulia Simolo is a writer from Johannesburg, South Africa with a degree in English Language and Literature. She has been working as a journalist for more than a decade, writing for sites including AskMen, Native Interiors, and Live Eco. You can find out more about her on Facebook and LinkedIn, or follow her on Twitter @GiuliaSimolo.