Swipe to the left. Swipe to the right. Dating. It seemed so simple when you were in your 20s. Back when you first started. You had all the time in the world—and virtually no cares in the world. It was a relatively reckless time. A time where the rules of dating seemed free form and subject to your own demands. A time of youth. A time of potential. A time without responsibilities. A time without time.

But you’re not in your 20s anymore. Rules change. Priorities change. And you change.. Both the rules and the landscape of dating change considerably with each passing year. And now that you’re in your 30s, dating is no longer quite as simple as it seemed ten years ago. Even three years ago.

Romance is never an easy stream to navigate. And very few of us have the exact same needs when it comes to finding a partner. Chemistry can sometimes overrule compatibility. And an honest, deep-felt connection can sometimes seem next to impossible to find. But now that you’re in your 30s, you really don’t have much time to waste. You have a career. You have priorities. You have… a life.

So how do you manage your life effectively while still finding time for romance? That’s something only you can answer. But like we said—priorities can will and do change. Here are 5 things to be aware of dating in your 30s.

Wingmen And Wingwomen Need Not Apply

There’s nothing more awkward than being the proverbial third wheel. But it’s even more awkward to need one when you’re in your 30s.

If you haven’t worked up the courage to talk to that certain someone at the end of the bar, you’re not hopeless. But you may need to be a little more selective. Casual flings are now a thing of the past. And you can’t necessarily gauge compatibility with a stranger over a ten-minute chat in a crowded bar. While dating sites aren’t necessarily your only option, they can help you prioritize personality over looks. And speaking of looks…

Never Judge A Book By Its Cover

Looks are the attractor, but not the attraction. Once you’re in your 30s, you tend to put more value in substance over appearance. Which means intelligence, values, and lifestyle tend to become a larger priority over surface appeal—no matter how pretty and shiny the packaging.

Yes, looks will always play a role in the game of romance. But it becomes less of a decisive factor in your 30s and more of a happy coincidence. And romance is always based on coincidence.

Why You Want To Know Where It’s Headed

No one likes games. But if you didn’t have the time for them in your 20s, you definitely don’t have the time for them in your 30s. 

Dating should be as productive as it is challenging. While a happy ending is never guaranteed, you should at least try to ensure that the beginning and middle are equally as profound and energizing. Even if that means bluntness. No one’s to blame if there is no honest connection.

It’s Called A Happy Hour For A Reason

If you haven’t gotten the late night partying bug out of your system by the time you hit 30, then you’re going to be utterly miserable once you hit 40 and realize how much time you wasted. You only have 24 hours in a day. Try to use your spare hours productively. The only thing sadder than a bleary-eyed drunk is a bleary-eyed drunken 40-year-old. Happy hours are for mingling, not binge drinking.

You Can’t Always Get What You Want

But you can get most of what you want once you’re aware of…. Well, what exactly it is that you want. Indecision is for the young and foolish. You have priorities, a career and a life. And it’s too short to spend it with someone who’s going to waste your time.  You deserve better. But first, you have to define what it is that you want and what it is that you need. Then go after it. Simple enough advice? Putting it into practice is much more complex.