As usual Dan and I were talking about our dating lives. Actually we were texting about them, but there’s not much of a difference between the two these days. In 2017 people converse in pictures, emojis, and code, and often times these glyphs end up as impactful as a face to face conversation – especially when they are misinterpreted.
There was no autocorrect confusion in this conversation though, the meaning was exact: being single in your mid 30s is strange. As part of our conversation I’d sent Dan a text that read “The weird thing that I’ve noticed is that at this point in our lives, as single people, we spend SO much time dating. When we were younger it was all about hanging with friends. But now friends are all married and shit.”
And he responded, “It’s very true. I love my friends but I don’t get to see them so much! They’re all coupled-up. Kinda makes me sad. I miss the days when I could hang with my crew all the time.”
Maybe my memory is a bit skewed since I was in relationships for most of my 20s, but even when I was single, I feel like I didn’t go out on that many dates. More often than not me and my friends would meet up with a girl and her friends and we’d all hang out. Back then much of my crew lived within a short distance so we were always in each other’s orbits. There was always someone to get lunch with or meet at the bar or veg-out with hungover on the couch while desperately trying to deconstruct your love life.
But as you get older your friend groups change. I mean, you don’t stop being friends with people but priorities begin to differ. When I was 31 and newly out of a 5 year relationship I realized that I needed a new group of people to go out with. Most of the folks I’d spent my 20s fumbling towards adulthood with were earnestly trying to grow up. They were getting married and having kids and moving to places where that made more sense. I was doing the opposite, I was careening towards late drunk nights and casual sex and doing things I hadn’t done in my 20s because I’d spent 8 ½ years of them in two relationships. Besides having new friend groups to party with, dating had totally changed too. With the advent of Tinder, there was suddenly dating on demand. I could be sitting on my toilet, dropping a deuce, and lineup a date with someone whose voice I’d never heard. And then as I got older (I’m 36 now) more dating apps appeared as even more friends started settling down.
When I realized there were weeks where I spent more time on dates than I did with friends, it got me wondering: How are people in their 20s dating now? Are they spending as much time fucking off with their friends as we did or are they swiping their nights away? Are they going on date after date each week or are they hanging in groups at bars and house parties?
Obviously, the simple way to find out would be to ask some folks in their 20s about it. But I guess the real question I have is how much of our dating rituals are defined by our times and how much of them are defined by time itself? Did people in their mid 30s spend this much time on first dates a decade ago and if not, what did they do?
Like I said dating in your mid 30s is strange and while we may have lots of questions, I’m not sure many of them will ever get answered.