The not-so-new 30s dating paradigm, am I missing something?

As a single woman in my thirties I feel like the options I have for healthy and fun relationship these days are stiflingly narrow, where does that come from? Where are the heralded brave new frontiers of human relationships dawning? My experiences since turning 30 are leading me to the conclusion that my socially sanctioned choices are as limited as marriage and babies, casual/tinder, “Polyamorous” divorcees or lesbian. I’m not loving it.

Men who want children and marriage are few and far between at this point, and they really want it, to the extent that it feels not ok to date them if I don’t definitely want that. Men who definitely don’t want that, appear terrified of my fertile womb and optimism about love, and tell me with patronising looks, that they “know deep down what I really want” and write me off as a panicky uterus with claws. Often the ones who I am actually aligned with just refuse to believe me when I tell them what I want, which is insulting.

Strangers who are married with kids love to remind me uninvited as I peacefully sip my tea in a cafe that I “have all this to come” as they wipe the puke out of their hair with a napkin and their partner sinks deeper into candy crush saga hoping it will all go away for a moment.

Also, I’m great with kids and love hanging out with them, which is deeply confusing for people who feel that if you like children then the logical thing is to make several and devote your entire life to their care. I like a lot of things that I nevertheless don’t want as the dominant theme of my existence – doesn’t make me like them any less.

About once a year I go on Tinder for 1-3 hours and that is about as much as I can hack it. I feel myself slipping into the kind of dislocated torpor I used to enter as a child flicking through the Argos catalogue, a truly horrendous distortion of the beauty and complexity of human connection. It’s like going trout fishing and being hit with a freaky cyclone of goldfish lurching up out of the lake.

The Polyamorous dads club is a genre of their own and I actually really admire these guys because they are unabashed about being clear and upfront about what they want from a relationship. They’ve been through the emotional sausage machine of marriage and they just want fun and sex on tap with zero demands. They come to realise over time that having multiple casual relationships with real humans is even more demanding than monogamy unless you want to be sloppy about it and live in an episode of Eastenders with one eye on the window at all times.

Not easy for them either to find a woman who has the energy and freedom to play with them and will not expect them to call for a chat or take active interest in life outside of the bedroom. I think this woman is a mythical creature and I am often confused with her because I appear to be free and a bit wild, and self identify as a unicorn…. Needless to say it doesn’t work out for long.

I’ve noticed women my age spontaneously or intentionally opening to relationships with other women after previously only having relationships with men. Perhaps they come to realise that emotional connection, intuitive intimacy and nurturing communication are available to them here in spades, and with less presumptions loaded on top. Perhaps they simply fall in love and are open and sovereign enough to claim it.

Is it possible to have a relationship that is fun, healthy, interdependent and also has depth and shared purpose outside of marriage and babies? For me, growing, learning and exploring together and supporting each other in our full expression and purpose is a beautiful intention for relationship. This, and all the sweetness and joy there is to be found in being two humans with bodies that like and trust each other bumbling through the day to day pleasures and pitfalls of life. Let’s start  with play and dancing and not be so scared of what might come next…

It’s been suggested to me that it’s my own ideas about relationship that are too narrow.  Am I missing something? Is it just me? Shall I pop this on my Tinder profile?

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