Thank god we didn't meet before we were 30
August 17, 2017 10:05 AM   Subscribe

I'd love to hear stories of people who met and fell in love after 30, especially if they're still going strong years later. And especially if they've experienced isolation and other adverse life experiences that make it hard to believe you'll find that kind of love. Did you meet your long term partner after 30, and maybe some struggles? And do you think you're better off because of that timing?

I'm 30 soon. I'm very lonely and have faced some unusual and difficult experiences, such as chronic illness and other trauma. My life is very limited by my illness and I don't have an in person social network. I'm a lesbian, which doesn't make it easier as a numbers game.

There are a lot of things about my life I wish I could change but most of all, I want to feel like I could find lasting love at some point. I know intellectually I probably will if I'm lucky and I try but it's hard to feel it.

If you've met that person after 30ish, especially if you've had some uphill climbs, I'd be grateful to hear your love success stories. Especially if you're glad it happened when it did, for instance you had matured enough or learned or experienced something crucial. Thanks. and
posted by bizarrenacle to Human Relations (37 answers total) 80 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: I know 30 isn't actually old but as a woman in this culture, it's hard not to feel like you're falling off a cliff, whatever you know in your head.
posted by bizarrenacle at 10:07 AM on August 17, 2017 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I'll give you the Reader's Digest version: I was 48, alone, and zero prospects. I was on with decidedly poor to mixed results. It's not like I look like The Dog Faced Boy, but I was older, and that usually means invisible to women.
I decided to give it one more try, and then put myself on the shelf. I got a vasectomy, because I assumed kids were off the table, and I didn't want any of my boys slipping past the goalie should there be some sort of sordid tryst in my future.

I planned on a partnerless, childless future alone.
But life, as they say, had other plans.
I logged on to Match one more time, paid them for 30 days, put up a new profile and it was three weeks into my final month that she winked at me.
She used a peculiar phrase from my favorite novel, I called her out on it, and we were off to the races. We exchanged email addresses, took it to Gmail so as to avoid more Match charges, and we met two weeks later on October 28, 2010.

We've been together ever since.
While living apart, we exchanged over 1,000 email messages.
I went from bachelor to fiance' to step-dad and husband in one fell swoop.
Engaged in 2013, bought a new house together in 2014, married in 2015, and getting ready to hit our 2 year wedding anniversary on October 28, 2017.
Never a fight.
Never a cross word.
We took our time REALLY communicating and getting to know each other before we even THOUGHT about getting engaged. It would be her second marriage, my first, and I was not planning on a second.

I thank my freakin' lucky stars every single day that she logged on and winked.
Please do not give up hope.
If a Star Trek loving, convention going, D&D playing, gray haired old nerd like myself can stumble ass over tea kettle into love, anyone can.

Please do not give up hope.
posted by Major Matt Mason Dixon at 10:29 AM on August 17, 2017 [120 favorites]

Best answer: I was single from about age 22 to 32, and then I met my now-wife and am blissfully happy. Dating as a lesbian has a lot of challenges - I was living in Austin, which has a robust lesbian population, but the vast majority of it seems to be college-age kids (who have been too young for me since I was 19) and the older set is finite enough that it didn't take me that long to start finding that everyone I met on OKCupid had already dated everyone else on OKCupid. What did finally work was finding a social milieu where I was meeting people I genuinely had a ton in common with - my wife is an amazing sparkly unicorn, but if she didn't exist, I would still have much better dating prospects than before I got into this community.

Honestly, I was unfit to date anyone until my late 20s at least - I needed to work on my own shit for a *long time* before I was grounded enough to deal with anyone else's shit in a constructive way. I had a bad tendency to fall for unavailable people because it was way less scary than people who might actually like me back, and undoing those patterns took a while. My wife, who was just about 30 when I met her, was also, by her own admission, completely undateable through most of her 20s, and her attempts at it were mostly complete scarring disasters. (Thank god for therapy!)

Chronic illness is a bear, too - I have some of that myself, and finding activities I actually can do in person has been a huge help, even though figuring out how to calibrate intensity, duration and recovery time is an ongoing and occasionally unsuccessful (and therefore painful and exhausting) process. But my pocket friends are all awesome, too, and even though I only see most of them 2-4 times a year, they provide social support and companionship all year long.

It's rough, I won't lie. But it is totally possible to go from Forever Alone to happily partnered, even as a 30ish lesbian with chronic illness. I'm not sure *I* would have believed me at 30, but... here I am.
posted by restless_nomad at 10:38 AM on August 17, 2017 [11 favorites]

Best answer: We met when I was 30.

I can't say never a fight or a cross word. At all. Ha. We have had several things working against us, my bullshit and his, illnesses and baggage of different kinds, but there is great love regardless. We have been wonderful teachers for each other to activate, and deal with, all our old bullshit. I actually thrive in relationships that make me grow so even though that part is hard, I like it.

The person that I was in my early 20s is a distant cousin to the person I am now, and same for him. He has even said "you would never have agreed to date me if you met my younger self." I was struggling and he was too in different ways.

With research about personality development and the prefrontal cortex suggesting that we do not finish developing until around age 27, I would think it is actually in our best interest to wait and see who we are before we consider such a huge commitment as a life-long relationship.
posted by crunchy potato at 10:46 AM on August 17, 2017 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I've been in several relationships but I can safely say the current one is the best one ever. It's also the longest... 12 years now. We got together when I was 37 and he was 46, after having known each other for eight years. I used to consider him unattractive, he used to consider me to be the kind of person he could never be in a relationship with.

So what changed? I was in a bad relationship, and we spent some platonic time together, and I thought 'Oh wow, life can actually be good, men can actually be nice and this one seems particularly nice'.
Then we fell in love. So I got away from my bad and somewhat abusive relationship, we talked things over and decided to give it a go, and here we are.
posted by Too-Ticky at 10:51 AM on August 17, 2017 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Oh gosh. I was such a disaster in my 20s, both from basic immaturity and from a series of family/personal tragedies. (And being so immature didn't help me deal with those in a super-great way, I can tell you...) I ruined/rejected a lot of potentially great relationships by just being unready, or by being unable to recognize when a person was great but wrong for me, or by wanting out and not knowing how to get out without blowing things up. I had also languished in a lot of relationships where, if you asked how I got into them, I couldn't tell ya.

I met my current partner at 32, a while after the shortest, but absolute worst, of my relationships finally cratered. I am so glad I did not meet him before then. By the time I met him I knew I wanted my relationships to be conscious choices, not unconscious patterns or fallback options or situations I fell into for lack of clear direction. I still remember the odd feeling of being asked for a second date, and instead of being like "ack ok must do the thing because the other person wants to do the thing," I was thinking "Oh hey! I could say yes if I want, but I could also say no."

And ultimately I wanted to say yes, so I did.

I'm by no means a perfect partner or 100% self actualized or mature. And neither is he. But our relationship feels like a choice, and a thing we're building - not a trap or an inevitability, or a "fuck you" to someone from our pasts, or anything.

It's great.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 10:52 AM on August 17, 2017 [7 favorites]

Best answer: I know a fellow who just happened to re-meet his high school sweetheart on a trip after he'd had a kid with another woman and had that relationship mostly fall apart after 25 years. (Her life had a similar trajectory) Their relationship originally didn't work out because he was a poor boy from out in the sticks and her parents were not OK with that back in the days when the Vietnam War was still on.

They were much happier with him the second time around and it all worked out in the end despite them both being full AARP members when they finally reconnected.

Point is, life is weird. Sometimes things work out for a while and then don't, sometimes they work out for life, but they usually work out if you're willing to keep putting in the effort to meet people. Most people who end up never having a long term romantic involvement have that happen because they choose to isolate themselves. (Lord knows I myself find isolation to be far too comfortable at times)
posted by wierdo at 10:57 AM on August 17, 2017 [5 favorites]

Best answer: I feel like I left something out:
even though we DID meet before I was 30, we did not and could not get together then. Not only did I not find him attractive (and apparently I cared a lot about that), he considered me somewhat immature and unable to understand him as a person. In the years that followed, I did a good deal of growing up, while he got more social, and learned valuable lessons on how to interact with others.
In other words, we both had some maturing and learning to do, and I believe that that's why it could not have worked before... and it's working very well now.

In many ways, for many people, after 30 is when you become your best self. You understand people better, including yourself. You know who you are and what you want. This makes it easier or possible to get into better relationships, as well as to avoid bad ones.
posted by Too-Ticky at 11:10 AM on August 17, 2017 [4 favorites]

Best answer: My wife and I met in July 2008. She was 36 and I was 35. We originally started e-mailing after some brief introductions on eharmony. We both had an unhealthy love of watching live blues artists, so after my hundreds of e-mails and eventually many phone calls we decided to meet for dinner. Granted I was living in Dallas and she was in San Antonio, so I drove the 4.5 hours down to meet her. We had an amazing time and have been happily coupled ever since.

Strange thing was both of us had given up on trying to find someone. We both owned our own houses, we had good networks of friends, and both loved our jobs. We were both okay with living our lives alone and maybe that is what made it click. Neither one of us felt any pressure to go any further than what was comfortable at the time, so there was no pressure.

Two months after we met, my wife's systemic lupus flared up and she was paralyzed from the neck down due to Guillon Beret Syndrome. I was still working in Dallas but took off every Friday and made the drive down to stay with her in the hospital all weekend. This went on for about 8 weeks until she was released to a rehab facility to learn how to walk again.

She is thankfully healthy today, but her chronic illness did not deter our relationship at all. We were married on May 15, 2010, and are still going strong. I never anticipated finding someone so amazing, but it happens. Hang in there.
posted by Benway at 11:11 AM on August 17, 2017 [19 favorites]

Best answer: Long story short, I met Mr MMDP when we were both in our late teens / early twenties and I was seeing his friend. We met again years later when he'd been with a partner for a number of years and I'd been single for about the same length of time. We already knew each other, so it took about six months to get engaged and another year to get married. I was 32.

We've been married for 20 years this year and we've both talked about the fact that if we'd got together when we first met, we wouldn't have been married now, as we were both too young and immature to be the people each other needed. It literally took walking into a club to see a band to run into this person again and to have the rest of my life start to fall into place. It can be that simple. I've also got some chronic health conditions and have had a couple of breakdowns during the marriage, which was not anticipated by either of us and he's been a rock.

Hang in there - of all the billions of people in the world, statistically there are going to be hundreds who are entirely perfect for you and there's every chance one of them could live in your town, or come to work at your company, or be buying milk from the supermarket at the same time you do. It does happen.
posted by Martha My Dear Prudence at 11:15 AM on August 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Not a personal story, but the New York Times just ran a wedding story for a couple - she's 98 and he's 94. They met at a gym eight years ago.
posted by FencingGal at 11:31 AM on August 17, 2017 [5 favorites]

Best answer: A few years ago I re-met a friend from my early 20s. We were different people then--married to others, different life stages, etc, etc. Man I'm so glad we didn't get together then. Not only were we different people, but I, in particular, wasn't me yet. I mean, we're basically both good people, but we're just very kind and gracious and real partners now in a way that I don't think either of us was in previous relationships. There's soooo much less ego in the game and, as a result, we have very straightforward, drama-free conversations that-- ta-da!--result in us getting what we want more often.

What I bring to a relationship now---48yo, a single parent, hopes and dreams crushed, a lot of therapy, several years happily alone, confidence and flexibility in my career and life choices----well that person is a lot easier and more fun to be with than I was in my 20s. Or 30s!

I know it's hard, but time alone for a woman in her 30s is GOLD if you mine it.
posted by cocoagirl at 11:33 AM on August 17, 2017 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: My heart! You all are killing me. I can't possibly choose best answers, these are all perfect. And thanks to the people who messaged me privately as well. Especially those who have dealt with or loved someone with chronic illness. It's so good to see actual proof that that (among other things) isn't necessarily an insurmountable barrier.
posted by bizarrenacle at 11:40 AM on August 17, 2017 [4 favorites]

Best answer: I "met" my now husband when I was in my mid 30's. I had very few serious relationships before then, mainly because I was a geeky girl in a country town in the ass end of no where Australia, where getting drunk on weekends was pretty much the only social activity. I was happily single,running my own little business, had my own house and was planning on growing old alone so had my finances all set up for single retirement the works.

I met him online in a computer game (yay for WoW), we chatted for ages and were online friends for years, he came to visit me in Australia I flew to visit him in the USA and we had great times but we were pretty much just great friends who lived worlds away from each other, throw into that an age gap in that he is a lot younger than me which made thinking of each other romantically, well not something that ever came up.

Had a midlife crisis in my 40's sold my business to travel around the world again, to visit family & friends scattered all over the place. Called in to visit my American friend, then something just clicked he suddenly wasn't just a friend anymore. We've been married eight years now. Life is strange. Seriously strange. To quote John Lennon, "Life is what happens while you're making other plans." If there is a secret to the "wait" for love it is to not wait for it, to keep living your life 100% as hard as you can and be open to people and experiences that take you out of your comfort zone just a little.
posted by wwax at 11:40 AM on August 17, 2017 [8 favorites]

Best answer: I was an emotionally codependent disaster in my twenties, largely from a marriage that was initially happy but stripped away my independence so slowly that it barely registered until he became emotionally abusive. I left him. Add to that immaturity, an uphill climb to regain independence, graduate grad school, find a job, move cities, and rebuild a friend network, and I was not at all in a positive emotional space until I met my now-boyfriend five years ago.

However, in my late twenties, about 10 years ago... I did get in a relationship with the guy I cheated on my husband with. We were the poster children for toxicity. Some of my earliest questions on here are the result of that mess.

I just turned 38. My current boyfriend with whom I have a toddler son is 35, and we're celebrating our fifth anniversary this December. We are the product of our previous relationships, but oh how we value those hard times. We are unimaginably happy, and it's because we are chock-full of experience on what not to do, how to disagree, etc. We've agreed that had we met even a year or two before we did, things would not have worked out. Hang in there, it can happen.
posted by Everydayville at 11:49 AM on August 17, 2017 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I met my husband when I was about 38 and he was 45. We'd both had brief, disastrous marriages when we were young, and had both intended and actually wanted to stay single, but then we changed our minds.

I wouldn't have been interested before that, because I had a kid and would have been extremely hesitant to bring some man in acting like a parent, but my son was 17 when we met and beyond the age where you have to do regular 'parenting' type things, so I just made it really clear at the outset that I came with a kid and extended family and friends and pets, so he'd have to be OK with all of them. I had more roots than he did, like I had a nice house in a nice area, where he lived in an apartment in a kind of boring place, so when we made it permanent, he just packed some stuff up in his car, drove out and moved in with us. It was and still sometimes is a little bit tough ceding control of things to him, because I am very much used to being in charge of everything, but he's not pushy, and he gets along with everyone, so it's really only a little bit tough, not a lot. We have complementary attitudes and interests in a lot of areas.

And there is so much less drama. We have disagreements, including some long term ones, but I think we're better at contextualizing things now that we're older and have more context, so they don't get as blown out of proportion.

I really think I'd be miserable if I were in a permanent relationship with any of the people I was with when I was younger. A lot of those relationships were predicated on really silly, superficial commonalities like media or politics or professions combined with physical attraction, and that led to lots of temperamental mismatches.
posted by ernielundquist at 11:54 AM on August 17, 2017 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I got married at 28 and divorced at 36. I had a few relationships after that, but after the last one ended horribly, when I was 41, I settled in for the long haul as a childless singleton ("women have a better chance of getting hit by lightning than getting married after 40"). I worked, I traveled with friends and family, I pursued my hobbies. Loneliness occasionally reared its head but I tried hard to build a happy solo life and was, except for these brief bouts, successful. Then when I was 47 I took on a freelance writing side job that involved interviewing the owner of a local company. We got married when I was 49 and he was 66. In a month we will celebrate our two-year wedding anniversary, and I never ever for a moment believed I could be this happy. NB: on our second date he told me he never wanted to get married again, and I said, "Me too."
posted by fiery.hogue at 12:03 PM on August 17, 2017 [10 favorites]

Best answer: I met my wife when I was 31.

I'm a domestically oriented dude. I always assumed is get married right out of college and start having kids right away, like the 1950s dream. That's not how it worked out.

My college girlfriend broke up with me after I graduated and went to law school. The breakup, living in a new city, and being in law school (seriously, don't go to law school, people) combined to put me in a pretty bad depression. I dropped out, moved back to my college town, and began dating someone else. That helped with the depression, but my new relationship was pretty volatile. We ended up dating for five years, but we'd break up every couple of months and then immediately get back together. Plus she had no desire to ever have kids. So I ended up 28 years old and no closer to my domestic goals than when I was in college. I decided to take some time and just be single for a while (alternatively, you might say that the women I met decided for me that I'd be single lol), until I started dating someone and rather impulsively moved to a new city with her without a job. That obviously didn't go well, and we broke up, with her kicking me out of our apartment. I had to move back in with my mom.

So there I was at 31, unemployed, living at my mom's, feeling like a total loser. But then I got a job, saved some money to move out, and things were looking up. I messaged a girl on OKCupid who looked cute and seemed fun, and we got coffee. I'd done this many times before, and didn't expect much, but this one was different.

Six years later, we've been married for three years, and we have a baby daughter. I've gotten a succession of better-paying jobs, in no small part due to my wife's encouragement. She's gotten two Master's degrees. We've moved across the country together. We've had hard times, sure, but we're still happy together. More importantly, I don't think I'd be in the place I am with her if I hadn't gone through all that crap in my 20s. It sucked at the time, but it really does help you to appreciate things later on.

I'm just one data point, but it's definitely possible.
posted by kevinbelt at 12:19 PM on August 17, 2017 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I was in a very uneven, unhappy relationship from the ages of 26-31. I left and resigned myself to a life of just me and my dogs.

I decided to give dating another go at 34. I put an ad up on OKCupid. One thing about being an "older" person dating: I was really straightforward about what I wanted and did not want in a relationship. I wanted a long term relationship. I did not have or want kids. I knew enough about myself, who I was as a person and who I was in a relationship to know what I needed. Also - and this was so important to me - I knew that i could survive on my own if I had to. I didn't HAVE to find someone for financial or emotional support. It was really empowering to be a stable and thriving 30-something, confident in what I did and did not want in a partner or out of a relationship. Not long afterward I messaged Herr Vortex, we met, we dated, we got engaged and married at 38.

Prior to us meeting, Herr Vortex was a bundle of social anxiety and shyness; and I was a chaotic mess. We would have hated each other. But by the time we met in our mid-30's, he had opened up and I had calmed down, we met in the middle and now we are so stinkin' happy that we probably make everyone around us ill but we do not care.
posted by Elly Vortex at 12:38 PM on August 17, 2017 [8 favorites]

Best answer: I'm getting married in March. My fiancee (female) and I (male) got engaged back in February. We're about to hit being together for four years. We moved in together in June and things are going swimmingly so far. We met at a friend's party to watch the 2012 Olympics, hit it off, and after a couple of misfires (one of us kept getting sick when we were supposed to meet with friends for drinks when I was testing the waters), starting dating in March 2012. We're both 35.

I'd been single for about a year and a half by that point in time. I'd had serious relationships, including one where I was far too infatuated for my own good in my late 20s, but this is the first one where I really feel that I'm in the right place. I'm with the person I want to be with when we're in our 70s.

I don't know what it's like when you're working with a smaller subgroup of women for relationships, but I will add that my friend divorced her wife and has now (the announcement went up on facebook yesterday) settled into a long distance relationship with a woman in the midwest. (My friend lives in the northeast.) She's a year older than I. I don't know how she met her current SO, unfortunately.
posted by Hactar at 12:45 PM on August 17, 2017

Best answer: The relationship I'm in hasn't as of yet been super long, a bit over a year, but there's a calm about it that we're both certain means it'll be lasting a while. We met when I was 40 and she was 32. We were living in Maine, where the local lesbian population was very small and mostly composed of moms and people very invested in butch/femme, which had made dating harder for both of us (I'm androgynous, we're both child-free). I had been on the verge of killing my OKCupid account due to getting messaged only by couples or by single moms looking for a co-parent when she started talking to me about Angela Carter novels, cats, and knitting. I had just been cleared by my boss to relocate to the midwest and figured maybe we would make friends, she had just realized that she wasn't going to be happy staying in Maine long-term. I wooed her with grilled cheese and mango rice pilaf, she introduced me to Black Sails and Seanan McGuire novels. We've both moved to Minnesota and are planning to get a place together once our respective leases are up and we figure out how to integrate our cats.

I've had a lot of trouble dating over the years because I hate bars, my job requires travel, and I have chronic illness.
posted by bile and syntax at 1:23 PM on August 17, 2017 [6 favorites]

Best answer: I spent all of my 20s and 30s looking for some kind of long-term relationship and failing at. I went out with people and dated plenty, but nothing lasted particularly long or felt terribly serious to me. There were a lot of factors that led to this situation. I was moving around a lot for work and school so never really settled in one place or committed to a place. I went through a major career change that led to a lot personal soul searching (and more moving around). But the biggest factor was that I was not doing a good job of articulating what I needed in a relationship and then internally making excuses for or rationalizing away behavior that wasn't meeting my needs because I wanted a relationship so badly. It made me a terrible judge of what I should put up with and what I should walk away from.

And all of this relationship failure really did a number on my self-esteem and it was hard not to think there was something fundamentally wrong with me. But I'm a persistent person, and kept picking myself up and going back on OKCupid. I finally got my shit together and was very clear about only dating people who were looking for the same thing I was looking for in a relationship, who communicated in a way that matched my style, and that had similar values about relationships and the world.

So when I finally met my current boyfriend in my early 40s I was much more grounded in who I am and I think that has made me a better partner. It was not easy at first because both of us had so much emotional scars about relationship failures that it took us some work to really let our guards down and develop true intimacy. But it's been great since then. Of course there's small things that come up, but on the big things we're right there for each other in all ways. And he's great at doing his share of emotional labor.

So there is definitely hope.
posted by brookeb at 2:07 PM on August 17, 2017 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Met my current boyfriend (probably to-be-husband) two years ago when I was 38 and he was 41, online. No high drama or bigtime romance, but long experience living and working as individual (and single) people has made it a lot easier for us to be together, because we know what each of us needs and what our sticking points are, what works for us and what doesn't, how to handle being with someone as a functioning introvert. Moving in together would, in both the logistical and emotional senses, have been much, much harder for us if we were in our twenties, I think.
posted by huimangm at 2:37 PM on August 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I swear I'm not automatically marking everything best answer. They're just all such powerful, encouraging stories.
posted by bizarrenacle at 3:19 PM on August 17, 2017 [7 favorites]

Best answer: we met when i was getting ready to turn 30. i was coming off a year of a thousand first dates. i had thought i was going to marry my long-term partner but we ended things and i was convinced that i would never meet anyone that really understood me again, so i just kept going on first dates and that was that. and then i met my current partner (husband now, whaaaaat!) and i didn't even have to think about whether i wanted to go on a second date. i'm glad i went through all the thousands of first dates - it helped me figure out what i really wanted in my partner.

(we're actually going to celebrate the five year anniversary of our second date tonight. with steak. and french fries. and cupcakes.)
posted by kerning at 3:27 PM on August 17, 2017

Best answer: Walked down the aisle at the ripe old age of nineteen. Divorced four years later. Spent the next eighteen years serially monogamous, expecting to remarry some day. Met my wife on the dance floor (true story) on March 30. Proposed on April 29. Married on August 3. Just celebrated 26th anniversary. You know it when you see it!
posted by John Borrowman at 3:49 PM on August 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I can tell you a story from both sides of 30. I met my now-husband when we were under 30. He was not a bad person, but not ready for prime-time. Because he was not from the United States and recently came from a culture where there was functionally no dating, he had no idea how to court someone. I did not know this at the time. So I got invited to a lot of work happy hours and didn't hear from him for weeks and after a while, even though I liked him and thought I could live with his dumb chin beard, I decided it was not working for me. He agreed and literally said, "Later." (I did not have the emotional wherewithal to explain that I really liked him but felt like he was not into me and he did not have the ability to explain that he really liked me but had no idea what he was doing and was actually devastated that we were not working out).

Fast-forward more than 10 years. He found me online and reached out and said he thought he recognized me but that it was cool if I didn't respond because he could just check back in 10-year intervals. He asked me out for a drink, and the minute I saw him, I remembered how much I'd liked him and once we visited for a few hours, I saw that he had grown up. He was different than the million other people I'd gone out with in the interim and all the hemming and hawing that other relationships generated was absent. It was not a struggle -- I felt like we were on a grand adventure. We both got to be in love for the first time together. We got married a few months ago.

I think you can do a lot of figuring out in your 30s that makes it (or later!) the ideal time to meet someone. Had we somehow muddled through and stayed together when we first met, I don't think it would have ended happily ever after. We both had some work to do.
posted by *s at 4:41 PM on August 17, 2017 [5 favorites]

Best answer: I haven't read everyone else's wonderful stories yet, lest I start bawling into my dinner, but let me add ours: we say "oh my god, we are so glad we didn't get together at 20" all the time. We've known each other since we were 16 (yay for boarding high schools) and stayed in loose contact over the years. We both had stuff to get out of our systems and shit to deal with. I was in a 10 year relationship that was terrible for the second half, she was with an abusive partner. She and partner broke up, I finally left the terrible partner, and she pinged me online to check in on me. That was August 2013. We got engaged that December, married the first time in May 2014, did the social wedding August 2014 (if we had known how soon same-sex marriage was going to go legal in NC, we might have waited on the legal bits, but she has chronic health issues and wanted decision making power in my hands, not her moms), and here we are. We're both 40. Her girlfriend is one of my best friends. It would have been an unmitigated disaster before now, and we're glad for every day we get.
posted by joycehealy at 4:44 PM on August 17, 2017 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I met my wife when I was 49; we married when I was 50 (my first marriage). I really didnt start dating until I was in my late 30s. I had really given up on the idea of being with someone by the time I turned 35, but had a change of heart. Entering the dating scene so late caused a lot of issues that I had to work through, sometimes with a therapist. We've been married 12 years now.
posted by coldhotel at 4:51 PM on August 17, 2017 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I met my fiance when I was 35 and he was 30. I don't think 25-year-old me would have liked 20-year-old him at all, or vice versa. I was super uptight and anxious in my 20s, and mostly too scared to pursue any kind of relationship at all. I didn't know him in his 20s but he considers himself to have been kind of an asshole back then. Even at some point in my early thirties/his late twenties I saw his profile on OKCupid and thought, "Christ, what an asshole" (or something along those lines).

But when we met in person I thought, wow, I like this guy so much! (Also I didn't recognize him from the OKCupid profile right away.) We got to know each other while we were taking an intensive course together, and we worked together on some projects, and I was so into him I almost tried to switch partners because I didn't want to be distracted by him if it wasn't going to go anywhere (and I thought there was a pretty good chance he might be gay and/or in a relationship). But I really wanted to have him in my life somehow, and fortunately he felt the same way about me, and fortunately for me it turned out he wasn't gay and didn't have a girlfriend.

Anyway, that was four years ago, and we're getting married in a couple of months. He's the only person I've ever felt like this about.
posted by mskyle at 7:04 PM on August 17, 2017 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I was engaged when I was 21. That fell through for a lot of really good reasons, but it hit my self-esteem fairly hard. It took me half a decade to get comfortable with being myself, by myself. By 30 I assumed I was probably never going to marry or have kids, and I was okay with that. I had a career, owned my own home, and had started the obligatory cat collection. I was 32 and up to 3 cats when my (future) husband walked into my office and asked me out on a date.

We knew each other from work, and were very good friends. He'd been married and divorced, and I had expressed interest at social gatherings, but he had been pretty clear he wasn't interested in dating a coworker, so I backed off.

The place where we enjoyed mutual beneficial employment was in terminal startup mode -- in ten years being there, I'd witnessed multiple layoffs, had my pay slashed 10%, lost retirement benefits, endured horrific bosses and asinine business decisions, and had reached the point of realization that we were never going to hit the "big time". Part of getting to that realization involved that whole getting comfortable with myself. I was worth something. I didn't need to put up with bad pay and crappy managers.

So I was writing my resume with the intent of going elsewhere. Had he waited just one month to stop by my office, I'd have probably been gone, or at least too far down the road of being gone to come back. But he didn't. And I stuck around to date him, and fall in love, and to have him move into my home.

Ultimately, we both did quit that job. I got a great job with awesome benefits and leadership in California, he came with me a year later. Sometime during our first year, his retina detached and we spent a looot of time together on the couch while it healed. He proposed. We were married 6 years ago in September.

Our daughter was born in 2013, our son was born in 2016, one day before our 5th anniversary.

I won't tell you it's always sunshine and roses, especially with kids and two stubborn as goats individuals who got to their 30s without much in the way of good partners. You have to talk, you have to work things out. But I don't know of anyone who supports or loves me more. He's an awesome dad, and a great partner. We still cuddle every night. He rubs my back and we talk about our day. Even with kids, we still find time for that slice of intimacy.

I'm glad he didn't wait to ask me out.
posted by offalark at 12:58 AM on August 18, 2017 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: I'm glad there are over 30 answers! Thank every one of you so much. I knew it in my head but now I can really feel that the adventure is just beginning. You'll excuse the schmaltz; did you see those answers?

I actually started chatting with someone new online since I asked this question. I don't have any expectations but it's so fun to flirt and have that kind of connection.
posted by bizarrenacle at 4:17 AM on August 18, 2017 [3 favorites]

Best answer: My dad's now-wife married for the first time at age 26 to a man she wasn't even all that certain about. They separated and divorced in her mid-thirties and she seriously agonized over the timing, feeling like she'd wasted her "window" with the wrong person and that she was now too old and it was too late to ever find someone else. All her friends and peers were setting into marriage, raising families, etc. and she was on her own. She seriously pursued her career and rose through the ranks, traveled a lot, had hobbies, spent a lot of time with her family and young nieces and nephews, and bought a house on her own and slowly and painstakingly updated it. She dated some throughout the years but never anything long-term or serious.

In her late forties, she reconnected with my dad who was recently separated and divorced himself (they'd worked for the same company years earlier and he'd even been her boss for a period). She thought it was going to be a rebound fling. It wasn't. He moved in shortly after, they've now been married for 13 years, and they are still completely head over heels for each other. I've happened across some of the contents of the anniversary/birthday/Valentine's Day cards they've written each other over the years and the contents will make you blush. And she still talks with great pride about all that she accomplished during the time she was single and without a lot of outside support.
posted by anderjen at 8:31 AM on August 18, 2017 [6 favorites]

Best answer: I was 31 and he was 38. I always thought I'd get married right out of college because that was what everyone around me did. When that hadn't happened by 25, I started living my life. I traveled. I bought a house. I bought my own fancy china and good silverware. I dated without expectations. So by the time I met him, I knew exactly what I wanted from my life and what I wanted in a partner. He'd had one marriage under his belt and had done the work and knew what went wrong and what he would do better. It only took us a couple of months to know that we'd end up married, so the rest was just setting ourselves up for our life together. We've been together 4 years now. It hasn't always been the easiest, but we're such a good match for each other that it's worth the work. I'm glad it happened the way it did. I like the person my 20-something adventures shaped me into, and he was a mess until 35. We weren't ready for each other until we met.
posted by BlueBear at 1:46 PM on August 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

Oh man, my 20s were ridiculous. I made this brilliant decision somewhere in college to not go to any of my classes and then also to not tell anyone that I was failing out of school while simultaneously trying to pretend outwardly that things were fine.

I came clean eventually, which I remember hoping would be the end of a long struggle. Little did I know it was only the end of the prologue to a story I'm still writing.

I came out of that prologue with poor self-esteem and this mixture of bitterness/loneliness that hung over most days. Things got pretty dark. I fantasized about ending things sometimes. I remember one day just lying in my living room with my face pressed into the floor, not knowing what else to do. Which, that probably sounds pretty banal. I just remember feeling so empty and desperate in that moment.

I remember once hearing people happily socializing outside my apartment window and feeling *so* envious of them with their friends and happiness.

I started my first dating ventures during that period. Surely a wise choice, dating in that state.


Now I'm here in my early 30s, getting things back on track. Switched careers and cities, built up some relationships. I had to unlearn a lot and learn some lessons that were probably well past due. I suspect there are more of those out in the fog waiting for me to find them so I can feel stupid for a bit and then learn from them, too.

I'm not certain that I'm quite ready for love, to be honest. But I do see all of the progress that I've made. I can see how much closer I am to being ready than I was a year ago, two years ago, and oh god five years ago, deep in the darkest part of things.


You can get there.
posted by Team of Scientists at 12:08 AM on August 21, 2017 [1 favorite]

I had a couple disasterous relationships in high school that basically put me off trying again for a long time. Then my parents divorced in my late teens and that, combined with at terrible college experience spiralled me into a major depression. By the time I felt ready to be in a relationship, I didn't have the self confidence, social network or skills to meet anyone. It took a great deal of work (including therapy, and weight loss surgery) before I started to get past the first date stage. By the time I was in my 40s, I just looked at online dating as kind of an adventure and an interesting way to meet new people, but with very low expectations for anything long term. Then I met my now-husband, and we've been married now for two years. We both tell each other how lucky we are!
posted by BeBoth at 9:09 AM on August 21, 2017

So, I'm in a relatively new relationship (8ish months), but both of us are basically like, "Thank goodness I found you," and are over 30 (32 for me, 42 for him). We both anticipate being together for the long haul.

My deal? I spent my twenties and early thirties dating men who were attracted to me when I was a self-destructive alcoholic. As I got healthier, the things I wanted from a partner changed, and those dudes didn't change with me.

His deal? He didn't start dating until he was older - late bloomer. He was in a relationship with a woman for 5ish years, and he was dumped by her when she realized she didn't love him. She then changed her mind for a week or so at a time for the next year until he finally set a boundary with her.

Both of us have been hurt a lot, and I think sometimes the love you feel after your twenties doesn't necessarily feel like the restless abandon of youth. For us, it feels very much like home - don't get me wrong, it's still sexy and awesome and fun, but we are settled into our adult selves and know what we want and what we don't want. There's much less artifice and it feels much safer.

I don't know. We're a really good match for each other, and each of us can't get over how happy we are to have found the other. I am so, so grateful.

The funny thing? Both of our younger selves would've likely been attracted to each other (I was sweet and whimsical but pretty unhappy/self-destructive, and he was out of touch with his feelings and wanting someone to make his life more interesting/someone to take care of). It would've been so destructive. I think because we both have had a lot of therapy and have a lot of clarity on our good and bad traits, we've evolved into adults who are attracted to the healthy aspects of our previous types (I want someone caring and thoughtful, he wants someone funny and sweet). The messes we've been through have tempered us into adults that have those qualities, but also have gratitude/kindness/generosity in spades. It's pretty great.
posted by superlibby at 12:46 PM on August 21, 2017 [2 favorites]

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