“Ains, dating at your age is tough. Everyone is still married and figuring out that they’re unhappy, and they’re having their kids. In a year or two they’ll start getting divorced, then some quality people will be available. But just don’t wait until you’re forty, because then shit gets weird again.” – Dad
33 and single sounds like a porn site and/or country song, but that’s where I find myself. I hadn’t planned on it being this way. Back in 2005, when I was less tattooed, less happy, and more ‘married’ (domestic partnered) I thought I had it all figured out: my then-wife and I would have a kid or two, move down to Argentina with my mother, she’d work and I’d stay home with our baby who would be conceived with the help of science and a sperm donor.
Suffice it to say, a thirteen year age gap between the two of us, and several years of oats to be sowed on my end, led to the bombastic combustion of our four-year-long relationship, unsurprisingly not long after we set the date to inseminate me.
My ex-wife was thirteen years older than me. She felt, and looked, at least a lifetime ahead. Crows’ feet, tits tugged on by gravity, the sort of weather-worn way that she carried herself. “I won’t make it to 33,” I remember thinking when I met her at the age of 20. Now here I am. Only, unlike her, I’m not robbing any cradles or snatching children from under a bridge.
Fast-forward to now. I’ve been single for five years, my ex-boyfriend having been The One I thought I’d wind up with, mainly because things looked so awesome on paper. (In 3-D, perhaps less so.) Things didn’t work out, and maybe that’s why I’m so jaded. Or maybe it is, as David Ives put it, all in the timing. Dating in your thirties is just weird and depressing. It’s like getting to a cruise ship buffet hours late. The options are dismal, and possibly dangerous to your health.
Think about it. Who’s on the market at this age? According to my amateur research talking to every marginally attractive human being who strays away from the herd, as well as several misguided and ultimately failed forays onto dating sites, the only suitable standards to have are those as low as the Marina Trench.
My father had a very good point: most stable, complex, semi-successful normal people are married by my age. More often than not, this is because they – like any normal person – have followed the normal linear track: high-school, some form of college education or trade school, relationship, job, marriage, promotion, kids. And normalcy breeds discontent (some research has led to the guess that only about 17% of ‘stable’ marriages are considered happy and 42% of divorces occur by age 46.)
So while I wait like a flounder lurking at the bottom of the dating pool for the most savory crumbs in my age group to fall, what am I left with? Several odd groups that seem obvious.
Unmarried thirty-somethings. These would seem to be the most appealing, except they’re often not. Who is still single at my age? I hate to say it, but the same principles of dodgeball apply, those who are picked last are the ones who were the least desirable. They either are physically or emotionally still lingering around for myriad of reasons, much like the parrot with the patches of feathers missing who screeches German action verbs still for sale at Petco. Single thirty-somethings are either weird, socially unskilled, or physically less attractive than a plate of gefilte fish.
To play fair, I’m a bisexual alcoholic who resembles golem at a tattoo convention. Not exactly take-home-to-mom material or a Suicide Girl.
Younger single people. Ah, to be a new cougar on the prowl. This seems hot, right? Choice cuts of human meat, newborns still wet behind the ears, the stuff of niche porn and romance novels…well, not exactly. Various issues I have with kids under 30: they don’t get references to Blossom, they’ve never held a Pound Puppy, they only know Justin from his solo career and Christina Aguilera from after being released from the bottle, and they think I’m kidding when I describe dial-up connections and dot matrix printers. Also they have a penchant for selfies, text shorthand, and something called a Snapchat. They can be fun for a toss, but aren’t what I think of when I think of a committed relationship. Extra snag? The female ones can be batshit insane. My last attempt to date a 26 year old ended with an envelope full of glitter tied to my car and her crying into the pages of her diary at Starbucks. Yung’uns are an expensive hobby, both with regard to time and energy.
Older single people. Okay, so increase the age range and my daddy issues and DDLG fantasies have plenty of room to wiggle and get weird. Bald or balding, with greys in their chest hair and laugh lines visible in a well-lit room, there’s something sexy about older men. But as a girl who doesn’t like or want kids, and as someone whose maturity level is on par with Finn in Adventure Time (case in point,) I don’t think I’m the most glittering cubic zirconia in the pawn shop. I’m not ruling out any elders, I just know my strengths and my weaknesses. (Viagra and Flomax.)
Married people. Another group that’s only hot in theory, but a whole lot of drama and bad juju in practice. Get divorced or work on your shit. No thank you.
I guess the lesson is to stay patient and continue to purchase rechargeable vibrators. Worst case scenario, I wind up alone, but really good at my hobbies and with an uncanny understanding of hockey. Meanwhile, if you’re under thirty, don’t be picky. Get out of your bad relationship before it becomes a bad marriage, or give someone a chance if you’re being a prima-donna. If you’re over 40 and newly single, welcome back. If you’re married but craning your neck, staple on a pair of testicles and call a divorce lawyer, style points for playing nice during the breakup.
And if you’re in your thirties but still checking the “Never Married” box, maybe living in regret of the neck tattoo and moving out of the basement might be something to consider…right after you finish posting that photo of your chihuahua on Instagram.