Early thirties and newly single: it’s the worst time to be dating, right?

Swipe Right is our advice column that tackles the tricky world of online dating. This week: the challenge of seeking a new partner after a long relationship

Hi Eva,

Im a man in my early thirties, so at a pretty awkward age for dating.

Ive recently come out of a relationship thats lasted since my late teens, which means I have no idea if Im dateable in the slightest. I certainly didnt get approached much during that period, so its possible that Im just not good looking.

Its left me with no idea if Im remotely attractive, made me worry Im too weird to be desirable and that the only people I like are out of my league. I avoid cliches like posing with sedated tigers, and I send messages tailored to shared interests. I get some responses but these fizzle, presumably in favor of better options. Its disheartening when someone with nearly identical interests blanks you, probably because of your looks.

Im left wondering if Im on the bottom of the totem pole and best retreating to a life of pajamas and video games.

Hey.

My sympathies on the end of your long relationship. Whether you ended the relationship, or your partner ended it, or you both simultaneously decided to end things in the most amicable way possible, that is a huge change in your life! So before you start making self-judgments about where you stand in the league of dating, consider that you might need to take a bit more time to get used to the huge change before you can approach the possibility of meeting someone new with an optimistic outlook.

Its tempting to hope that dating apps can solve the problem of loneliness with the same convenience that food delivery apps can sate your hunger with a nice bucket of $12 soup. And its is very natural to question how attractive or desirable you are at the end of a long relationship. But its crucial to for you to realize that this is unlikely to be resolved by women you meet on dating apps: they dont even know you, so why should their snap judgments of you affect your sense of your own value? It shouldnt. There are a million reasons why a conversation on a dating app can fizzle, and one reason is better options. Other reasons include distracted by an intriguing sandwich.

Im also inclined to think that even if you did meet someone who thinks you are amazing, your current (understandable) feelings of self-doubt might lead you to conclude that theres something wrong with her for liking you. Thats very common, but its also not nice for anyone involved. Im not saying you have to love yourself to find love, but at the very least you do have to believe in yourself as a lovable individual.

Theres nothing in your email that makes me think youre excited about dating. And thats OK. If the last time you were single was more than a decade ago, then it sounds like you might want to take some more time to yourself. If part of that is pajamas and video games, then enjoy that stage (I love a good pajama).

Yes, its different to be single when youre in your thirties versus when youre 17. But its not necessarily worse: you know so much more about who you are and what you want. That is worth getting excited about, and if you give yourself some more time, I think you will be.

Love,

Eva

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2016/feb/11/dating-in-your-thirties-newly-single-ask-eva-swipe-right