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Real Talk: The Differences in Dating at 23 vs. 29

You're a little bit older and a little bit wiser. You've realized your worth, what you want in the future, and that you have no time for jerks.

I am sure most of you single twenty-somethings out there feel the same way I do about dating in the 21st century. And that is that it is really hard!

Not only are there multiple ways of communicating with the person you are dating but the dynamics of how people once dated has changed. I realized this only the other day when a guy I gave my number to called me to set up our date. I felt like Amy Schumer from Trainwrecked and saying, “This is Lauren. I think you butt dialed me.” It is this sort of mentality that has made the dating world hard for single twenty-something.

The term “hangout” has replaced the word “date” because it keeps everything very casual and noncommittal. While not all dates need to end in marriage, both parties involved should respect it more. When I was 23-years old, I viewed this as the norm because it was just how things happened.

Since then I have come to realize my views on dating have changed a lot. So here are a few reasons why dating at 23 is so dramatically different from dating at 29:

You know what you want.

At 23 you think you know everything. Your must-haves on the dating list consists mainly of are they cute, do they have a good job, their status, what kind of car they drive, and of course, they should have no baggage. Usually, if you try online dating, a significant number of people aren’t honest about their status either.

The things I use to think I wanted then just don’t seem as important to me now. Over the past six years I have changed a lot as a person and the superficial things matter less to me then they once did. With that time to grow I know exactly what I am looking for when I am dating someone, and it has nothing to do with the kind of car they drive.

You no longer put up with bullshit.

What I once use to rationalize when I was dating someone new is no longer the case. The guys who would only text me at night to “hangout” are no longer tolerated.

At 23 we almost always jump at the chance to hang out with that hot guy/girl we really want. It didn’t matter how they treated us as long as they wanted us.

My theory, only date someone who actually wants to date you as much as you want to date them. Why does it have to be a one-way street? The answer is it doesn’t. At 29 I choose not to deal with that.

You go for every fuck boy or basic bitch you meet.

All right I am guilty of this. I loved to go for that type. The cocky guy who is just going to play you. I didn’t care if he messed with my head. I just figured that is how it is.

Let me tell you it is not.

Which is why I will no longer date a fuck boy because I rather have a real connection with someone then just an immediate attraction. If you see a fuck boy at age 29, run!

You value yourself.

Yes we all value ourselves, but in a relationship at 23 sometimes we don’t value our worth in that relationship. It is in large part because you still don’t know yourself.

Your twenties about discovering who you are as an adult. When I hit my late twenties I realized how often when I was younger that I wouldn’t value myself in my relationships. How are you supposed to be successful in dating if you don’t know how great you are and how much you have to offer? 

You know what you really deserve.

After you learn to really value your worth, you know what you deserve. No one deserves someone who is just going to mess with your head all the time.

You know what you deserve?

Someone who is going to see all the wonderful things everyone else in your life sees about you. This is something you will learn. Don’t your waste my time on anyone who doesn’t deserve it.

You start looking towards the future.

At 23 I didn’t really think about the future too much when it came to dating and relationships. I had all the time in world to find someone special that I would want to spend my life with. As you start pushing thirty that mentality changes.

Yes, I know I am still young, but now I actually consider, “Can I see this person in my future?” There is nothing wrong with thinking about this either. Because I know I want to get married and have a family one day, why can’t I start thinking more about this when I am dating someone new? If I can’t see a future, why waste our time when their Mr. or Mrs. Right is still out there.

You don’t need to analyze every detail from your dates.

I remember when I would come home from a date, sit down with my friends and analyze everything to see what it all meant. Everything had to mean something then. But guess — what it doesn’t.

Now I just live in the moment and take everything that happens at face value. If I feel it went well then that is all I care about. I don’t need to analyze the fact he didn’t reach right for the check or open my door. Who cares? Dating is so much more enjoyable when you stop analyzing it all.

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You are over playing games.

At 23 playing games in the dating world is standard. There is an unwritten set of rules we all seem to play by. But you know what think of those rules now; they are complete bullshit. If you like someone just go with it and stop thinking about the rules. If you both like each other it will all work out the way it is supposed to — with or without playing the game.

These are just a handful of ways dating at 23 is different from 29 — I’m sure you have even more reasons we could add to the list. What do you think?

About the Author

Lauren Alexander

Lauren graduated from Hofstra University with a bachelor's degree in communications and a minor in psychology. She enjoys spinning, crafting, and Saints football. She is currently getting her teaching credential with hope to inspire future generations.