I’ve heard from a lot of people that things change when you turn 30. Perspectives, goals, dreams and sometimes, even your outlook on life. With all the feedback I’ve gotten from readers about the need for articles addressing singles in their 30s, I thought there would be no better time for another He Said/She Said post.
Please remember, as with all He Said/She Said posts, these are two real people with real perspectives who do not know one another. Please be respectful in your thoughts and comments. Also, remember that as the author of this blog, I may or may not agree with the following perspectives.
He: Jacob, single 32 year old male (@jacobjcoon)
She: Keri-Ann, single 34 year old female (@kershar79)
Every stage of life comes with new lessons. What are some words that describe your 20s?
He Said: Roller-coaster and thankful come to mind. Roller-coaster is a good summary for the whole decade. In my 20s I left the state I grew up in (which I never thought I would do) and then started preparations to leave the country I grew up in by the end of the decade. I lost my amazing father, but gained an also amazing step-father. I almost died twice due to health issues, but God used the health issues to reveal a deeper health issue that would have almost certainly killed me. After I got well, a new time of exercise and healthy eating began. Thankful came to mind too, because looking back I can clearly see how a lot of the lows were only preparing me for the highs and it showed me that no matter where I am in life, I can know that I am safely on the track.
She Said: I would have to break that up in 2 categories: My early 20’s can be described as fun, reckless, carefree, young and free, naïve, not concerned about the future, numb, quick temper. My late 20’s was free, focused and ready to change the world, not such a hot head,
So far, what are some words that describe your 30s?
He Said: Chaotic, blessed and ridiculous. So far in my two years in my 30s I moved back home to live with my brother and then my mom and step-dad so I could raise support full-time to move to Germany (where I am now) as a full-time missionary. I never thought I would move under the roof of my mom or brother, but again it was a blessing. I am now closer to both of them and my step-dad because of that time. God has blessed me so far in my 30s, maybe not the way I had hoped, but in amazing and ridiculous ways nonetheless.
She Said: Words to describe My 30’s so far, has been: realistic, focused, driven, stressed and confusing at times, adventurous, curious.
What, if anything, have you learned about yourself in your 30s that you didn’t know in your 20s?
He Said: You know how you always get asked the question, “What are you skilled in?” Well I never really had a good answer. Oh I would say I can make people laugh, but then I would stall out and have no other answer. Now I can see that I have skills and those skills are valuable. I am a planner, an educator, a decent home cook, a photographer and I really connect with kids of all ages. Just a few years ago, I probably wouldn’t have said those things.
She Said: I learned that I am human. I’m sure those words sounds strange but allow me elaborate. In my 20’s I was focused on changing the world and fighting for justice and I was not concerned about relationships. In fact it drove me crazy when my friends would focus on relationships, getting married and having children. I thought that I had all the time in the world and I would spend my early years focused on saving the world, and who has time to save the world if they are tied down in a relationship? Any desires I had in my twenties for long term human companion I would squash, believing that I do not have the time for it and that it would interfere with the life I had planned.
I’ve received a lot of feedback about how one’s perspective on singleness changes when a person enters their 30’s. How has this been true for you?
He Said: When I was in my 20s I wanted nothing more than to be married and have kids. It was my main goal in life. Now I still have that goal and it is still a huge desire in my heart, but I feel like my lack of girlfriend/wife doesn’t define me, it doesn’t make me less of a man, it doesn’t say anything about me at all. All it means is; right now I don’t have a girlfriend. I also look at singleness differently than before. I look at my life now and am able to accept that it is possible that I will not get married…and that’s ok.
She Said: I don’t think my perspective has changed. I have always believed that it was okay to be single until you find the person that is worthy of you. I think what has changed is that I know have a desire to be in a relationship, however its not primary focus. In my 20’s I stifled any desires that I had and feared them. Now, its not as scary and I’m okay with the fact that I have these feelings and desires to be in a long term committed relationship/marriage. I’m not CHASING them, but I’m not running away from them.
In your opinion, how does our society view those who are single in their 30s?
He Said: I think society views singles in their 30s in three ways. One: Something is wrong with them Two: They have too high of standards. Three: They need help finding someone (and everyone else always seems to know the perfect person!).
She Said: I believe that society views singles in their 30’s especially women in their 30’s as “time is running out, time to get moving.” Or “What’s wrong with you” I believe that society puts a lot of pressure on us. I know that I have had many encounters when people look at me with “sympathy” when I tell them my age and that I am single.
How does the dating scene change in your 30s?
He Said: I was never really big in the dating scene. Partly because I am a chicken and partly because I did/do have certain standards that I hold on to before I even consider dating them. It was mostly the chicken thing though.
She Said: I’m more focused and more serious and conscious of messages that I am sending. I’m cautious and I take my time. I’m also upfront with the person that I am dating and I’m expecting them to do the same. I don’t play games in my 30’s. In my 20’s I was carefree and I would play games and you wouldn’t know if I was coming or going. In my 30’s I’m more upfront and not as fearful.
What are some things you now know about what you want in a future mate that you wouldn’t have known in your 20s?
He Said: In the second half of my 20s I started to realize how important my health was so I started running. Since then I have come to see that someone who wants to stay healthy, with me, is vital. I have also seen how important a solid, Christian woman is. I always wanted to marry a Christian, but now I am looking for a godly woman, solid in her faith and who will love the Lord more than she even loves me.
She Said: I think I have learned to look for substance when I am dating a guy. Good looks, does nothing for me anymore. In my 20’s if he wasn’t as hot as Brad Pitt or Denzel Washington, I was out the door. Now that focused has changed to what’s on the inside. What’s their relationship with God like? Where is he in his walk with Christ? Has he even started the walk with Christ? What’s his view on children? How does he interact with people/children with special needs? What’s his relationship with his family? Is he selfless? These are things that I didn’t focus on in my 20’s. I was focused on me and how you would fit in my world.
What are the biggest misconceptions people have about singles in their 30s?
He Said: I mentioned earlier that it seems that people always have someone perfect in mind for singles in their 30s. It doesn’t matter if they have just met you, they still know someone perfect for you and they want to set you up. Umm, stop that please. If you want to set someone up, just get them to the same place at the same time but don’t make it awkward.
On a more serious note though, society seems to think that singles in their 30s (maybe it’s getting less common now) have something wrong with them or should compromise on their desires in a mate. There may be certain things wrong with them and they might have very high standards, but everyone has something wrong with them and if you “settle” you might end up in a really bad relationship. Some standards need to be set aside, like guys wanting women with certain physical characteristics that I won’t go into detail about. That is not important, but a solid, relationship with Christ, that’s vital. Honesty, trustworthiness, and other characteristics like that are important too. Even similar likes and dislikes are important, but the guy leaving the toilet seat up or the woman not liking to watch football…maybe not so important. Compromise is fine, on some issues, but compromising on main issues just so we can get married, is just not smart.
She Said: That they are lonely or tainted. I can’t speak for every woman in their 30’s but, I can say for myself and my other friends who are single in their 30’s, that we are not lonely and we are not tainted. We are focused and picky, and serious. We are looking for a person, who understands the marriage vows and realize that marriage is not a walk in the park. I realize that relationships take work and time, and you have to learn to compromise. It’s not that we can’t find someone; we haven’t met that person as yet. We are actively looking, but it’s not consuming our entire lives, it’s not the forefront of our existence.
How can we as a society begin changing these misconceptions?
He Said: First off, society needs to realize that not every single person, no matter their age, wants to get married. You can’t assume they do. Secondly, if someone in their 30s wants to get married and aren’t yet, then this is probably a sore subject so be willing to listen to them talk about their wants and desires before dictating their lives for them. Each person is an individual, whether they are single or not, and therefore they should be treated as such. I don’t know what to say about society, as a whole other than, stop assuming. I can say that anyone who wants to “help” a single, they should just listen to them. Listen to how their heart might hurt, to their desires, to their needs and then….and this is the tricky part…ask them if they would like your involvement. If they don’t, then kindly butt out, but if they do, then help make them comfortable. Do not assume that singles need or want your help, but also don’t assume that they don’t either. Just don’t assume and talk to the person that you obviously care about.
She Said: We can begin to not put pressure on people to rush into marriage or encourage people to settle.
What are some things that God is accomplishing in your life during this specific time of singleness?
He Said: I have fallen many times into the “female as solution to my problems” trap. I know, mentally that they aren’t, but my heart was telling me differently. God has really been working on me to see that He is the only person that could ever fill that need for love. True, He has provided women for men and men for women, but ultimately He should be my source of comfort, courage, passion, etc. I’m still working on this, but it seems every day God is providing me with some reminder of His everlasting love.
She Said: I am learning to forgive. I am not a forgiving person and I hold grudges for a very long time. God has been working on that with me. I’m also learning to forgive myself and not be so hard on myself. He is working on helping me make him my focus. He is teaching me to trust him and turn to him not away from him, when I am facing obstacles.
What has been the hardest part about being single in your 30s?
He Said: At the end of my 20s a lot of my friends were getting married and now they are having kids as I start my 30s. The older I get the harder it is to find single friends my age. I am totally cool with hanging out with married couples or married guys, but sometimes you feel like the odd man out, no matter what they try to do.
She Said: Honestly, the ticking biological clock. I want children, I love children. I fear that as I get older it becomes a higher risk for me to carry a child and that has been the hardest.
What brings you encouragement during the hard times? What encouragement could you give to others who may be struggling with being single in their 30s?
He Said: I definitely do not have the cure-all answer to stop the struggling, but I can say that if you are looking towards marriage as a solution to your problems, then look at your friends who are married and realize that, even a great marriage brings its own set of problems. Marriage isn’t a solution to anything, it is a gift from God that, unfortunately, not everyone gets. Singleness is also a gift from God, so viewing it that way will help. One last thing: Do not let singleness, or marriage, define you. You are who you are because God made you that way. You are where you are, because God wanted you right there (possibly even reading this right now). God’s got you! He is the only one who gives you worth.
She Said: God brings me encouragement. He knows what is best and he has done amazing things in my life and I can trust him. He may not always answer the prayers the way that I want to, but he knows what is best. Encouragement for those struggling is that its okay, and you are not alone. You are not the first, the only, or the last. Trust God, know that he will do what’s best. Its’ difficult always being the bridesmaid, but one day you will be a bride, a wife and a mother. Don’t give up.