Dating in your 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s

By Lavanya Ramanathan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, December 11, 2009

Dating. No matter what your age, it can be the major bummer we all face on the path to eternal love, bliss and spooning.

Books tell us the only way to master dating is to approach it like chess players: He makes his move, then you make yours. Then no one calls anyone for three days.

But those of us who have attempted to find The One know there's about as much strategy involved as fumbling for a light switch in the dark. You try bars, friends-of-friends, the Internet. You consider arranged marriage.

Over the past month, we followed Washingtonians who are searching for love or who have recently found it. We asked them what they're trying, what works and what doesn't, and where they meet people.

Then we asked love gurus and authors to weigh in, but not before asking them what makes them such experts.

What follows is the lowdown on what it means to be looking for love in Washington in your 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s. We've compiled great ways to meet others and fabulous ideas for first dates. And we've got only one rule: Stop looking at dating as a game or chore, and approach it with optimism and confidence. It's supposed to be fun.

Dating in your 20s

What we're about to say may infuriate you. It may prompt you to send us angry missives about ageism. But here goes:

The rest of us could learn a thing or two from the dating habits of 20-somethings.

Our dating experts all suggest the same approach to dating at any age: Relax (or at least appear to be unaware of the incessant, pounding tick-tock of your internal clocks) and your charms will shine through.

No one does this better than people in their 20s. (The first dates that can make the rest of us so nervous? A 25-year-old will casually call them "hanging out.")

Of course, 20-somethings have good reason to be relaxed about love. Their dating pool is a virtual ocean, still teeming with cute, smart, upwardly mobile types. And they often have the opportunity to dive right in: There are bars, work outings, social groups and even strange, retro sports leagues that can all serve as venues to meet that special someone.

At the Sixth & I Historic Synagogue, 6th in the City cultural programs function as exactly that. There are trivia nights, cooking events, happy hours and talks aimed at Jews in their 20s and 30s.

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