Where Are The 30+ Guys Who Want A Relationship?

Alias (DO NOT USE A REAL NAME!!): Wendyjealous-girl
Comment: I am 26 and I’ve gotten tired of dating guys (or boys I should say) in my age range and have been trying to focus my attentions on guys in the 30+ age bracket. I’ve been out of graduate school and working for over 2 years and am ready to start the next step of my life. Most men my age are just finishing up school and getting ready to start their “adult” lives. While that is obviously a great thing, I find that dating guys in this transitional period is almost always a waste as they are still trying to figure things out, where they fit, and what they actually want.

 I have been casually dating a younger guy (he just turned 25) for the past 8 months and it has just further highlighted the different stages of life we are in. I prefer older men who are at a more secure point in their lives. My problem is that older men seem to see me as some sort of prize or trophy that is exciting to keep around for a while but ultimately not dating material. I’m a good boost for their ego and a great story for their friends but they don’t want to take me home to their parents because I’m “too young.” I have a doctorate degree and am more than financially stable so my question is  how do I get people to see past my youthful appearance and focus on my personality and accomplishments?

I am what most people would consider conventionally attractive but I do also tend to look younger than my age. I used to get mistaken for a high school student fairly often, (which is not a good thing in the health care profession when your patients refuse to think youre qualified for your job). Since then I’ve managed to tweak my make up and how I dress to more accurately reflect my age but those cosmetic changes have only gotten me so far. I most often get 22-23, and if I’m lucky 24, these days.

 I honestly do not think I fit the young and ditzy stereotype. I’m fairly sure I present myself as a confident professional woman but I could be wrong about that. In the past when I have gone out with 30+ men it has always been for 2 or 3 months until things start to get serious and then they balk at the idea of making it “official.” Any advice you or your readers have would be much appreciated.
Age: 26
City: Charleston
State: West Virginia


I think the biggest problem you’re having is understanding that the “older” men you seek don’t really care how established and educated you are. They just don’t. It’s seen as a plus that you’re well educated and financially secure, but those two things don’t generally make it to the top of a man’s must-have list when choosing a long-term partner. To put it bluntly, guys don’t really give a shit about your accomplishments. Usually, it’s women who place importance on that because accomplishments equal bragging rights. So, if you’re leading with those things, then that could be why you’re not encountering the types of guys that you want.

It doesn’t sound strange to me that a guy in his early or mid thirties might date you for a few months then move along. I don’t think their decision to leave has anything to do with your youthful appearance and more to do with the fact that you and they are in two different places in your lives. Sure, dating someone your age is fun..for awhile. But pretty soon that lack of things in common become an issue. A 5-10+ year age gap isn’t remotely a problem once you get in your thirties. But there’s something about being in your twenties that I think make a lot of people wonder if that twentysomething person is eventually going to change. Which they will, of course. That, too, is  a deterrent. Like you said, there’s a lot of transitional issues that crop up in your twenties that are typically settled by your thirties.

On top of that, if I may be so bold, you sound pretty serious and a little uptight. If guys are passing on a relationship with you for any reason, I think it has more to do with your personality and life experience than anything else. Unless you look like a teenager, most men aren’t going to be concerned with dating someone who looks too young. Oh, if only that were true. I think what might be going on is that some men have a hard time relating to you.

I think your challenge here is a lack of interpersonal compatibility. I don’t think it has anything to do with age. Adding to your struggle is that the reality is that people in general are in less of a rush to commit and settle down. It’s not just guys in their late twenties to mid-thirties.

I’m not really sure what to say here because all signs point to this having nothing to do with what you think it’s about. While you may have a disdain for dating your male peers, I think it might help you to find situations or activities that attract more intellectual and serious minded guys closer to your age. Online dating is an option, but you could also look into wine tastings and alumni functions or professional networking organizations. Those things tends to attract people who are looking to move past their nights out at happy hour.

I think the best advice I can give you is to loosen up and stop being so hard on guys your age or a couple years older.



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37 Responses to “Where Are The 30+ Guys Who Want A Relationship?”

  1. Fyodor Says:

    It shows a profound lack of self awareness, six lines after pontificating about how younger men’s youth makes them bad LTR prospects, to completely fail to appreciate how her own youth might make her a poor LTR prospect.

    • Mistori Says:

      That’s true to a point but although the following is not true in every case, women are generally ready for LTR at a younger age than men.

    • AAORK Says:

      Otherwise known as solipsism (along with a fair dose of narcissism), and it’s a trait distinct to Western culture.

  2. Malienation Says:

    Wait, what? She dates guys for 2 or 3 months and she’s unhappy they’re reluctant to make it “official”? Doesn’t “official” here refer to a marriage proposal? She expects this after 2 or 3 [I]months[/I]?

  3. ShawninCo Says:

    I agree with Moxie’s point about loosening up and not being so hard on guys her age. OP, you’re 26 and have a doctorate. While that’s great and you should be quite proud of that, working that hard, consistently, and long hasn’t really given you much time for living life and understanding yourself.

    When I briefly dated a 26 year old with a doctorate (4 years my senior at the time), the lack of life experience was glaring. There was plenty of sexual attraction, so I was happy to look past it at the time. Nonetheless, it foreshadowed many incompatibilities in values.

    OP, I can tell you right now – the perception gaps for college graduates and graduates with working experience (even at the same age, but with different degrees) are stellar. Your interpretation of financial stability MAY evolve over the next few years. Maybe you’re naturally great with money. Maybe all of the money in relation to time management goes to your head for the first year or so (like most of us). Don’t knock either approach. For most of us, our interpretations of financial stability change as we get older. Your intrapersonal intelligence, however, will most likely take many new, surprisingly forms over the next few years as you shake off college. That’s fine and it doesn’t make you weak or less mature.

    All in all, please don’t rush to feel like you have it all figured out or more so than the men that you date. Self-knowledge is a hell of a lot harder to acquire and hone than logical/industrial knowledge and you don’t know what you can learn from these people. This is why a lot of younger people who go on and on about their careers get the side eye from their peers and older people alike. Usually, people suspect that it’s the only thing that they’ve really had time to learn about themselves. They look cocky or one-dimensional.

    Prove them wrong. Showcase good qualities about yourself in terms of what you like to do for fun, your sense of humor, your sex life (with people you’ve gotten to know, of course), how you solve interpersonal problems, etc. Those things matter much more in dating and make you relatable to way more people. It puts you on a more equal, realistic footing with others as well.

    On a side note, I’d also encourage you to check out intramural sports in your area. With summer rolling around, it’s a great way to let loose and meet a lot of different people. You typically don’t need to have much experience in the sport,and it’s usually a good split of single men and couples.

    • Joey Giraud Says:

      I would go further and suggest that her comment about men her age being boys shows she has a lot of growing up to do.

      I’ve really gotten tired of women’s pretense of superior maturity. It’s just not true. It may be that teenage girls mature more quickly, but by late 20’s women are no more mature then men in general and often times a lot less mature.

      Just because you want to have an LTR doesn’t make you any more mature then a man your age who doesn’t.

      An expectation that the world should be the way you want it to be is immature too. Downright childish in fact. Grow up.

  4. ShawninCo Says:

    Oh shit! That’s a lot! I’ll work on that in the future.

  5. Damien Says:

    A “conventionally attractive” 26 year old woman just out of graduate school should have no problem attracting serious guys 30+. Furthermore, having obtained a PhD myself, this was among the top target profiles of women I was seeking when I was in my 30’s: intelligent, ambitious, can relate to the experience of graduate school, and ready for the next grand stage of life.

    The reality of what I found among women with this profile was far from encouraging. Many were high on themselves. They were typically attracted to guys of a similar education with model-good looks and promising career trajectories. I saw plenty of this among my classmates. When they could not find such guys by the time they graduated, they also graduated to a “higher” standard by being attracted to bankers and other high earning professionals. As to what is the problem with these guys? I don’t agree with Moxie’s point about guys thinking the LW is too young and might change as she gets older. Most of these types of guys don’t analyze like that. Youth beats a lot of other criteria. I do agree with Moxie’s point that these guys, if they are single in their 30’s, have no interest in your personality and intelligence. They are there to play and score.

    The other group of graduate school single types were those that were so wrapped up in their own heads from too much study that they can’t relate to anything else. They were boring at best, obnoxious at worst, and totally clueless about the bigger world as a norm. You could spot it a mile away.

    I’d say the LW is in the former category, being attracted to a certain profile. Experience more life and become a real woman in the process. Then you’ll get better results.

    • Joey Giraud Says:

      My second wife stayed in school for 9 years to get a masters degree that she never ended up using, not that there’s anything wrong with that.

      It took me awhile to realize that she was probably staying school so long not because she had a burning desire to excel in that field, but because it was an extended childhood under the protective umbrella of her parent’s money.

  6. Dori Says:

    “I honestly do not think I fit the young and ditzy stereotype. I’m fairly sure I present myself as a confident professional woman”

    I would assume that it is pretty obvious that you are not ditzy. But a confident professional woman can still be young. Grown up (i. e. not young) women are kind, understanding, forgiving, accepting, have realistic expectations, are easy to please, don’t sweat the small stuff… (This list can continue, but hopefully the idea is clear). When you are with your man, be a woman, rather than a gifted child. That might help.

  7. A to the F Says:

    Over 30 guys who want to be in a relationship are in relationships, having been snatched up by women who planned ahead and didn’t need to be on a cockabout in their 20s.

  8. D. Says:

    There are single 30+ guys looking to settle down. To be honest, I’d say any guy who’s seeing you for 2-3 months or so is probably open to settling down. He just may not be open to settling down with you, necessarily, and he realizes this around 2-3 months in.

    My problem is that older men seem to see me as some sort of prize or trophy that is exciting to keep around for a while but ultimately not dating material.

    I think one issue to consider is that your perception of the situation isn’t necessarily accurate. These men are dating you. They’re dating you for 2-3 months, too, not just a couple of weeks or a handful of dates. What it sounds like is that, for whatever reason, these guys don’t see you as girlfriend material beyond that.

    At a guess, I’d say their reasoning is unrelated to your youth and probably just has more to do with your personalities not being exactly aligned. That’s not a dig against you, either.

    How do I get people to see past my youthful appearance and focus on my personality and accomplishments?

    So, Moxie’s right that most single, 30+ men aren’t necessarily prioritizing your education and financial stability. Really, for them, all you need to do is meet a certain baseline on those matters, and after that point, your accomplishments aren’t that important to him in deciding whether to get serious.

    This may also illustrate one of the ways in which the age difference is relevant. In your 20s, it’s not uncommon to approach dating and what you’re looking for with a kind of “shopping list” attitude. You look for a range of qualities, and once you find them, you say “Great. Let’s get serious.”

    In your 30s, though, you start to figure out that the shopping list is really more just what starts things off, and that you need to be compatible on a deeper level to make things work long term — especially for marriage. My guess is that these guys who date you for 2-3 months think you do meet their “shopping list” requirements. But your personalities just don’t mesh — for whatever reason — after that point. The 2-3 month mark is really where that sort of thing becomes more apparent. The “shopping list” stuff is more like what gets you past the first couple of dates.

    Now, it may be that your youth, inexperience by comparison, and where you are in your stage of life is what’s turning these guys off. But it could just as easily be that they want someone who has more/less of a given personality trait than you, and it takes them 2-3 months to figure that out.

    I’m going to hazard another guess here. You want to get serious with someone. That’s why this bothers you, after all. The best piece of advice I can offer is this: relax. Seriously, stop trying to make this happen. If you go into dating with the goal of finding something serious, it will lead you astray. You’ll chase guys you shouldn’t, pass over guys you might otherwise be compatible with, and generally wind up driving yourself crazy when things keep not working out. You’ll get more and more frustrated, eventually leading to burnout.

    It’s fine to want to find something serious in a “wouldn’t that be nice” mindset. But don’t approach it like you’re on the hunt for something. Instead, approach dating with the attitude of looking to enjoy yourself in the moment, and being open to how that develops. Go ahead and hope that you find something serious, but recognize that that’s kind of abstract and not part of the moment. Focus more on enjoying the moment. If things are going to build to something more, then they’ll do it on their own. If they don’t, then they don’t, and you move on.

    • Julie Says:

      “It’s fine to want to find something serious in a “wouldn’t that be nice” mindset. But don’t approach it like you’re on the hunt for something. Instead, approach dating with the attitude of looking to enjoy yourself in the moment, and being open to how that develops.”

      I totally love your perspective but disagree with the above. I think you do have to be rather focused on what you are looking for because its all too easy to piddle your time away having fun in the moment and find yourself still single 10 or 20 years later as many of us have done. Its one thing to be rabid in your chase to the point of scaring prospects away but ambivalence can be just as counterproductive.

      On a separate note, how long has she actually been on the market? She said she got out of college 2 years ago, got her career going and is now “ready to start the next step of my life”. So how long has she been actively looking for an LTR that she is making these assertions about men in their mid-20s versus men in their 30’s?

      • fuzzilla Says:

        Sure, there is a difference between “being open-minded” and actively wasting your time on dead ends. However, I don’t think D.’s point was to throw your standards out the window but rather to accept and be okay with the things you cannot control. Someone can be great on paper but have no chemistry in person. Or you can have great chemistry but blow it by forcing an artificial timeline on the relationship.

        I think it’s a good point, and one that can be particularly hard for super-brainy science types to wrap their heads around. “I’m successful in every other aspect of my life by applying XYZ methodology. Why don’t people respond the same way?” (I’m currently dating a super-brainy science type, FWIW).

      • D. Says:

        To be clear, I’m not suggesting she actively waste her time with dead-end dating. Rather, I’m suggesting she try to avoid approaching dating with a balance between single-minded pursuit of a relationship (and marriage, if she wants that). In other words, don’t approach dating as “spouse hunting.” Don’t try to control things in the process of dating, and relax and enjoy it instead. That’s not to say she should ignore what she wants, either. If she ultimately wants a serious relationship or marriage, then yeah, don’t date dead-end guys. Just don’t get so focused on the future that you aren’t present in the moment.

        • D. Says:

          Rather, I’m suggesting she try to avoid approaching dating as a single-minded pursuit of a relationship (and marriage, if she wants that).

          Fixed for clarity.

          • Joey Giraud Says:

            D, it might just be that the OP has a case of Southern Débutante, as evidenced by a serious and directed ambition to achieve a specific outcome where members of the opposite sex are concerned.

            For a taste, read some Florence King.


          • Joey Giraud Says:

            A taste:

            “The belle is a product of the Deep South, which is a product of the nineteenth century and the Age of Romanticism. Virginia is a product of the eighteenth century. It’s impossible to extract a belle from the Age of Reason.”
            ― Florence King, Confessions of a Failed Southern Lady

  9. HammersAndNails Says:

    I’m pretty close to your demographic and I have few related observations:

    You do seem uptight and rigid. Your accomplishments don’t make me want to date you and the importance you give them is a turn off. The only thing I care about is that your finances aren’t a train wreck and that you are paying your own way. If you are this uptight at 26 I’m scared of how uptight you will be at 36 and am pretty sure you’d be absolutely unbearable after motherhood.

    One of the big reasons a 30-something guy would seriously date much younger girl is because she is more carefree, less uptight, has fewer rigid expectations, and is just plain more fun to date than older women. This doesn’t sound like you. at all. I date younger women specifically because i do still really like living free and loose. I like a woman who doesn’t need to have it all planned out.

    “they don’t want to take me home to their parents because I’m “too young.””
    This is not a thing.

    • Julie Says:

      I know I’m generalizing but I find this to be one of the more humorous ironies of the dating world: younger women who specifically target older men do so because they think they are more serious and more willing to settle down then their peers while older men who specifically target younger women do so because they think they are less serious and less interested in settling down then their peers.

      • HammersAndNails Says:

        To clarify, I would settle down as in commit to with titles and monogamy, sure. I’m just in no hurry to jump into the life most women seem to mean when they describe it as “mature”, and the “next step” in their “plan”.

        • Joey Giraud Says:

          What ever is wrong with you men? :)

        • Julie Says:

          I’m sure you are in the majority. I think most guys are happy to settle down at some point and many want a family. Just seems funny that the 30+ year old guys who specifically pursue 20-something women are likely no more interested in settling down then their younger counterparts. Possibly less so.

  10. Donnie K Says:

    To the OP. Nobody, myself included has any idea why this is happening except you. I suggest taking a step back and seeing if there are any patterns developing in this cycle.

    There, you’ll find your answer.

  11. AnnieNonymous Says:

    What’s going on here is that the OP has followed all of the advice and is frustrated that it isn’t working. Women who want to be in relationships are CONSTANTLY told to work on themselves and build lives for themselves, and then men will just naturally find them appealing. The OP has reached a point where there isn’t a lot of room left for setting big life goals, so she might be panicking over the feeling of not having any other options (really, when you have a doctorate and are told that it’s not enough, where do you go from there?). It’s worth understanding that “self-improvement” comes in many different forms, but I think a lot of people are misinterpreting what the OP is getting at. She did everything she was told to do, and now people are turning around and telling her that none of it matters.

    The real issue is that if you devote your 20s to being in school, you miss out on a whole lot of dating experience, and you never fully make up for it. The mid-20s are rough for dating anyway, since most guys who want to be in relationships at that age are already in them, and we’re talking about the big formative relationships that either lead to marriage or end at 30 and create the baggage that no other woman will ever want to wade through. All I can suggest is to start spending more time with social groups comprised of people who also value education and stability…hope that eventually you get introduced to someone who’s also single.

    • ShawninCo Says:

      *Women who want to be in relationships are CONSTANTLY told to work on themselves and build lives for themselves, and then men will just naturally find them appealing.*

      And men aren’t told this? If women are taught to build these amazing, tv-show lives for themselves, especially via media, then men are also taught to provide, protect, and impress beyond realistic means. In many regards, both genders are fed the same toxic message that if we aren’t in the top 10% of attractiveness, then we need to bring an unrealistic amount to the table.

      We’re taught that if we can’t live up to this, then all we DESERVE is the bottom of the barrel – or worse, to be alone. While I think that plenty of people can innately navigate through this bullshit, I think that people with approval issues are particularly vulnerable to this. So, many of us (myself included) foolishly “hold out,” until we’re falsely pleased with our forced self-improvement.

      In all fairness, I think that many of us do learn from this (at the price of valuable time, however). I think that we realize the power of good old fashioned confidence, social skills, and self-acceptance. The OP’s smart and she’ll be fine. She, and many of us, just need to redirect our self-knowledge and critical thinking skills to work in our favor.

      • AnnieNonymous Says:

        I never said that men weren’t bombarded with similar messages. However, I do think that men don’t tend to be regarded with incredulous cries of “Well, why did you think a man would find a college graduate with a nice house attractive?!?!?” with quite the same level of disingenuous shock that is being thrown at the OP here. She followed the directions she was given and now people are calling her a fool for it. I agree with some commenters that she’s being way too rigid about expecting her life to be some basic math equation where “Get my life together = get a boyfriend” but I think that people are being too hard on her.

    • ShawninCo Says:

      To be fair, we don’t KNOW if the OP siloed herself away to work on self-improvement or if she just studied what she loved and is now making love more of a priority.

    • mindstar Says:

      If the OP was told that getting a doctorate would make her irresistable to men then she was mislead.

      As a group women are the ones most likely to be impressed by an advanced degree. “My boyfriend the lawyer” or “my husband the doctor”. There are damn few men who say “Wow. Her doctorate really excites me.”

      Apart from looks the most valuable qualities a woman can have, from the average man’s point of view, is to be easygoing and fun to be with.

      As others have stated the OP’s letter makes her appear stiff and uptight. These are not qualities men find attractive.

  12. Lisa Says:

    I see a sense of entitlement here, similar to what you would see with the Nice Guys. It can be a turn off.

  13. FBear Says:

    Being a female scientist in her early 30s working full time and in grad school full time, all I know is the last thing I was thinking about at age 26 was where are all the over 30 guys with successful careers. Even now, I would not seek specifically another scientist or business guy at exactly my age or older. I know NOW, that it comes down to personality and not general sweeping terms about age groups of people that determines compatibility. Again, lesson learned after 10 years…keep your mind open. You never know what you’re missing out on since you’re focused on looking for one type of guy.

    • D. Says:

      Exactly, and that applies just as much to the 30-something guys. You learn by that point in your life that it’s not all about categories and checklists and such, and far more about personalities meshing.

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