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I Finally 'Get' Dating After Turning 30

02/08/2015 01:41 EST | Updated 04/10/2015 05:59 EDT

I honestly don't understand why so many women dread the big 3-0.

A woman's 30th birthday has appeared in our culture as some diabolical legend, whispered in hushed voices, tittered amongst college students like the lore of an approaching sea monster or apocalypse. "And the CALLS WERE COMING FROM INSIDE THE HOUSE!" is like the punchline of the scary story; no matter where a woman hides, the ending has the same conclusion. You WILL be 30 one day.

I'm sorry, but I just don't get that. Two months out from my own calls coming from inside the house, I find myself reflecting upon my 20s, the arrogant days of my past where I perceived 30 year old women as boring, battered broads. I thought 30 was a death sentence, not only for my appearance, but for my prospects as a "desirable woman" in the dating department. Yes, I admit it, but as the date approaches, I realize more than ever that I have gained something invaluable in these fear-ridden years: I think that as a woman, I finally get dating.

I mean, we all "get" dating, don't we? We meet a guy, we do some stuff together, we have some sex, talk a bunch, and then it does or doesn't continue. I'd been dating since I was a teenager, and like all cavalier youths, I thought I got the memo. You just date and then eventually you keep one. Simple.

Like most things, "simple" is only a label that wears out its use long before it's peeled away. My adventures in idiocy and douchebaggery was enough to make the entire cast of Girls shudder. My 20s was a dastardly experiment in how many poor dating choices I could make before my friends and parents had an intervention. But then, like the dawning morning light, I saw 30...

Blessed 30. Sweet, potent 30. 30, with all of her wisdom and unyielding desire to say, "OK, enough of this." 30 with her power, her eye for detail, and her careful attention to aspects of the past that no longer serve her. I see 30, my friends, and she has called for the end of total dating oblivion.

With the grace of 30, this is what I now know about sex, dating, and how to find the right kind of relationship:

1) The affection of one, genuine man is worth more than the attention of thousands. (It all gets less cute and fun when you realize what a waste of time most of that attention is).

2) Partnership, stability, and compassion trump the need for said attention. I'd much rather have a great relationship than a bar full of men saying that I'm "sexy".

3) Sex is great, but love is better. For best results, try both together.

4) Physical beauty is pretty boring. We're all going to get real old faster than we'd like to admit, so have something to stand behind that mask when it starts to crack.

5) Youth is not as important as you think it is. You're just not going to appreciate it while you have it, and then once it's gone, you're going to be disappointed and sad. Acknowledge the passage of time and call it a day.

6) Your time is precious. Make sure that you spend it on what counts.

7) Trying to find the perfect man is like trying to find Jesus. Chances are, you're not going to run into Jesus at Starbucks, the mall, the grocery store, a bar, or mini-putt. See that desirable part of you and the rest will fall into place. (Note: Jesus is not for everyone, so if another being or idea works for you, insert said being or idea into this metaphor).

In my 20s, I've encountered a lot of gross men. I've had men demand naked photos of me, make disgusting comments about myself and my boyfriend on the guise of it "only being a joke", grab my ass at a bar without my permission, and everything in between. I've even had men blame me for these other men's behaviour. All of these men are the kind of people who believe that I should feel flattered for their attention, especially as I approach the boring broad stage. It's an unfortunate aspect of life, but these men do exist, and encountering them is ever more unfortunate.

But despite this, I have a secret weapon now. I have 30. It may have had a bad wrap in the past, but 30 has equipped me with the wisdom to spot these men from a mile away and tune them out. Another person's bad behaviour is never my fault and 30 has taught me that, preparing me to live like the glorious woman that I am. Dare I say, 30 has even made me enjoy and appreciate sex for what it really is -- a connection and a trust that goes beyond the lust and basic, human need. Yes, approaching 30 has been the perfect piece to my dating life, and as the puzzle configures to reveal the full picture, I have learned what it means to find a real, meaningful relationship. And you couldn't pay me to go back to my 20s after learning that.

Thanks for everything, 30. I am happy to recommend you my friends, family, and readers. Here's to you, and here's to the future.

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