Dating in Your 30s: The Marmite Experience

When you’re lucky, or unlucky, enough to go on as many first dates as I do, you can’t help but notice certain trends. Take my last two first dates for example:

First date one lasted several hours and ended with my date asking a series of questions: “Can I come back to your apartment? Can I see you tomorrow? Are you sure I can’t come back to your apartment?” No. No. No. I left him with the possibility of meeting up again some time soon.

By the time I had arrived back at the apartment and poured myself a glass of wine, I had no less than six texts from the guy and he had tried to add me as a friend on Facebook.  When I told him that I didn’t want to see him again, that he had been too full-on, there were more questions: “What did I mean? Hadn’t we got on? Could I give him another chance?”

First date two lasted half an hour and ended with my date making a statement:  “I’m not going to have another drink. I don’t think we’re compatible.”

By the time I had arrived back at the apartment and poured myself several glasses of wine, I didn’t know whether to be offended by his cockiness or impressed by his balls.

I know that it is only natural that we like some people more than others, but when did I turn into the dating equivalent of marmite?

It isn’t like this in your 20s; you like someone a little or don’t like them so much and things gradually develop or slowly fade from there. But post-30 it appears that everyone is so desperate for either anyone or “the one” that they’re diving head-first into a full-on relationship or diving out the door.

I know as much as anyone how hard it can be to not instantly dismiss someone within the first few minutes of a date. But let’s face it, dating is hellish enough without adding harsh cruelty into the mix and besides, there is always the very remote possibility that things could take an unexpectedly positive twist. Someone who ends a date within 30 minutes is either particularly cruel or pessimistic. (This does not apply if you are on a date with a psycho!)

On the other hand, I don’t want someone who goes home after our first date and starts planning the rest of our lives together. Any person who behaves in this way (for the first few weeks at least) is just looking for a body, somebody, anybody and I want to be liked (or even loved) for more than the mere fact that I am filling up an empty space in someone’s bed and life.

These days, I dream of a man who likes me just a little, who likes me just for being me and who might like me even a little bit more after time.

I just want to be strawberry jam.




  1. Zara says:

    This is a great article – very funny, and rings true. I am perhaps lucky enough not to have reached 30 yet, but many of my friends have, and what you have said is something they have all had to contend with. Nobody wants to be loved too much or hated, strawberry jam is the perfect inbetween.

  2. Mitchell says:

    Great article and I wanted to share my thoughts.

    Perhaps, I am too clinical or objective, but I look to what creates that sort of behaviour in him. I totally agree with you that you need the right balance of intimacy and distance (especially at the early stages) but how has he not gained the level of maturity to know this fact? I suppose there are more than a few options: The first is that it was only his 3rd ever date and lives with his mother who coddles him (half joking); or he lacks empathy and the ability to identify when people squirm, and this is a main trait of a psychopath (inability to have empathy) Also, half joking. Either way, when people act weird, it usually means they are weird. A “not-so-lucky” escape on all front and it could mean that you prevented even more strange (and potentially dangerous) behaviour.

    For me, I think people should trust their instincts and if it doesn’t “feel right” then we should never talk ourselves into it. Our instincts are there to protect us and when we override them with “overly optimistic or desperate thinking” then we should never be surprised when things go badly.

    Less time questioning “why” more time having confidence in our gut decisions. This also reduces our ability to be disappointed by other people on a regular basis because we all need to remember that if we went on a date with the entire population then we would still only get on with the same number (proportionally) than we do in our 9 to 5 lives. I feel we try to fit around others too easily and if we continue to present ourselves truthfully and confidently then it would reveal our true selves that others can go ahead and fall in love with. Don’t sell a lie, present the truth!! It will save stacks of time for us all.