Smart Women, It’s Tough Out There

Being a professional woman in your thirties can be tough on your love life. No one tells you as a Woman in Your Twenties that waiting to find the Right Person to Marry is going to start to hurt in your thirties. Until recently, I had forgotten all about what it’s like to be in my twenties. Then I hired a wonderful 22-year-old woman who has since become my friend. Hanging out with her has made it clear how many men are interested in cute women in their twenties above cute women in their thirties. Multiple men at work have asked her out, even to the point of annoyance. Don’t get me wrong: she is beautiful, but I have other equally lovely friends in their thirties struggling to find Mister Right. The whole thing made me remember how easy dating was in my twenties (BTW I’m happily married now, but not without a long and exhaustive search for The One) and made me ponder what changed between then and now.

Here’s what I came up with.

1) Men are generally attracted to young, cute women. The younger the better. There: I’ve said it and I’m not sorry.
2) There are more guys to choose from in your twenties. Fewer men in their twenties are married, plus my recent experience leads me to believe guys even in their late thirties see nothing wrong with asking a 22-year-old woman out. I know exactly zero women in their thirties dating a man in their twenties and I’m guessing I’m not uncommon in that regard.
3) You know what you want and you’ve had enough of what you don’t want in your thirties. Enough said.
4) The more smart and successful a woman gets, the more threatening their resume gets. Maureen Dowd wrote a great column about this phenomenon. I have to say from a personal standpoint this was the most baffling part of dating in my thirties. It’s hard to wrap your brain around believing you need to hide what should be an asset to find a great partner. I took the attitude I think many professional women take: If they don’t like me for me, including my sassy, smart side, then I don’t want them anyway. BTW my strategy did work. I married a man who regularly laughs at my snarkiness, points a finger directly at me and declares, “Sassy!” (Many good times are had at our house.)
5) All the work you put into sounding successful and smart doesn’t help in a first date situation. I came to the slow, somewhat painful acceptance of the fact that to be a good first date, professional women like me need to let themselves be vulnerable, at least a little bit. Your mother was right: men like to feel like there’s some aspect of your life they can contribute to. Being all buttoned up didn’t help me with men after age 30. Letting a bit of the “real” me show on dates helped but OH – MY –GOD was it hard. It was all worth it when I met my husband though.

Smart women in your thirties, forties, and above trying to find love in this world: you have my empathy and respect. It ain’t easy out there.

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