Dating as a teenager is awesome. You pass a note to the nearest boy without braces—as long as he doesn’t smell and only sports the average amount of hormonal acne that comes along with that weird phase between childhood and adulthood. If he checks the ‘yes’ box, you’re committed—like, seriously. You’re boyfriend and girlfriend, and you might as well start scoping out those $.25 vending machines at the mall for the perfect ring, because it’s pretty obvious that in no time you’ll be doodling your first name and his last name on a real wedding certificate and not just on your rad Trapper Keeper.
Dating in your early twenties is pretty easy, too. You accept when that cocky, loafer-wearing Sigma Chi from your Literature class invites you to his next house party. You down one too many jello shots and the next thing you know, you’re staying the night, attending formals and planning which city you both will settle down and pop babies out in after graduation.
But, dating on the brink of thirty—now that’s hard. It’s like you’ve failed at everything, and I mean everything, leading up to this point in your life. When you run into old friends, instead of inquiring about your amazing career as an astronaut, a doctor, a dispensary owner, or whatever other jobs 30-year-olds are employed in these days, they ask the question.
“So—are you seeing anyone?”
Instead of relaying the details of your latest Match.com date that ended with a high-five and a lonely walk back to your car, you lie through your teeth.
So where to start? Do you dive into the world of online dating with a sweet profile that includes an outdated photo and a gross exaggeration of your exercise habits? Do you cruise the local bar scene? Do you cave and say yes the next time your mom tries to set you up with your second cousin? He is twice removed…
Whichever dating path you choose, remember—dating is a lot like eating ice cream. Sometimes you give a new flavor a test run, and it’s awesome. And sometimes you take a chance and end up learning a really valuable lesson. But, no matter which flavor you choose, if you take it slow and steady, and savor the moment, you can escape the headache and skate through any icy patch with dignity in tow.