Female game consists of three parts or stages:
- Making yourself as attractive as possible
- Making yourself approachable
- Filtering out the men that just want to have sex with you from the men that want to date you
As a girl in your thirties, you are past or moving out of your most eligible years, and should adapt your game accordingly. Other women will get most - if not all - of the "easy" attention from men, so you need to narrow your focus and seek attention only from the men that matter. In order to be effective, you need to be honest with yourself and filter out the men who will waste your time - even when you are tempted by your emotions, pride or biology to do otherwise. Your efforts should remain focused on all three stages of female game, which you should achieve in the following ways:
- Recognize that something is wrong. If you are in your 30s and want to be married but aren't, something has gone wrong. Somewhere along the line you made a mistake. Not you parents, not "society," not your ex-boyfriends: you. Maybe you've let yourself become too assertive, maybe you aren't in shape, maybe you wasted time, or maybe you believed the popular misconception that your career matters most. Whatever the case, you need to recognize that it is time for change. Acknowledging this is the first step towards fixing the problem - whatever it is.
- Revisit your foundations. There are a number of things a girl should do in her teens and twenties to be successful in the dating world. The majority of these still apply to you. Read the posts explaining them (the links are below this post). Understand them. Implement them.
- Recognize your disadvantage. Men are going to be more attracted initially to younger and hotter girls, and you will get less attention because of it. For better or worse, this is the way it is. You can tell yourself repeatedly that you look "young for your age," you can pretend that celebrities A and B disprove the rule, or you can just adamantly refuse to believe it. In this case, I also invite you to resign yourself to a bitter, single future. The alternative is to recognize the somewhat harsh truth, acknowledge that it has implications for how you need to conduct yourself going forward, and get to work making a bright future for yourself.
- Recognize your advantage. Most women do the majority of their dating in their late teens and through their twenties. Although these younger women have an advantage over older women in terms of appearance, few have the knowledge or experience necessary to date successfully - especially when they try to date sex-crazed and scruples-free men their own age, who have no intention of settling down. Most single women in their 30s have already suffered through these learning experiences, and can navigate the dating world far more efficiently because of it. As a woman in your 30s, you can go on more worth-while dates in a year or two than most 20-somethings go on in a decade.
- Make dating a priority. Success is often a function of priorities rather than abilities. The people we often admire for being great at X or Y are often just the people who really enjoy doing X or obsessively want Y, and have therefore made X or Y priorities in their lives. Your failure to be married by 30 is very likely due to the fact that you focused your efforts on other things in your twenties: a career, travel, partying, etc. Change that. Quit your job, move to the city, get rid of your partying friends, or do whatever else you can to make dating a priority. As the expression goes, "desperate times call for desperate measures." Although "desperate" is probably an overly severe descriptor for your situation, you understand the point: you need to take more dramatic steps towards meeting the right man.
- Avoid men in their 20s. Most men in their 20s - particularly their mid-20s - don't want to settle down yet, and certainly not with a woman who is in her 30s. Yes, there are some exceptions, but you are not one of them. Men in their 20s will want to have sex with you, and will play on your need for affirmation (as in, "Look, I can still attract a 25-year-old stud!") in order to do so. Avoid them categorically.
- Avoid men over 40 who cannot explain their singled status with a specific and believable reason. Men who haven't settled down by their late 30s are probably not going to settle down. In fact, the threshold might be even lower than 40; but if a man hasn't settled down by then he is probably incapable of engaging in or maintaining a long-term relationship.
- Avoid divorced men. If he did it once he'll do it again, and if it was "all her fault" he is lying; relationship problems always go both ways to some extent. Anyway, divorce only happens when it is entertained as a viable solution for problems or dissatisfaction in a relationship - both of which are inevitable. A man who is divorced almost definitely interprets "'til death do us part" with the addendum "...unless something really bad happens." The only exception to this rule is when the divorced man takes partial responsibly for the divorce: "True, she did X, Y and Z wrong, but I realize in retrospect that I pushed her away because of A, B and C."
- Avoid married men. It amazes me how many e-mails I get from women asking how to handle a man who is unwilling to break up with his wife to start a relationship with her. Trying to break up a marriage is not only dubious from a morally standpoint, it is also a terrible idea for the women attempting it. She is fighting an uphill battle, trying to get commitment from a man who (a) already has committed to another women, even if he no longer loves her, (b) has all kinds of difficulties that complicate leaving her (children, house, etc.) and most importantly, (c) can easily hide his lack of true interest in you behind his inability to leave her, e.g. the lie "Baby, I would commit if I could leave my wife but you know I can't right now." The truth? He just wants sex on the side and he knows he'll never have to prove his claim.
- Don't be afraid of the nightlife scene. Some bars and most lounges are still decent places to meet men for you. I routinely go out and see plenty men and women in their 30s. In some places they are the majority. True, there are a lot of men there who are just looking for sex, but there are also more men willing to talk to you there than in daytime venues, and you have the savvy to avoid the ones who are only interested in sleeping with you. By being selective about where you go, and leaving before men's drunkenness is in full effect, you dramatically increase your chances of meeting decent men in nightlife venues. I am not saying you should neglect other social opportunities in order to hit the bars, but if there isn't anything else going on in the evening, don't use "I am too old" as an excuse.
- Continue to improve your appearance. The vast majority of women in their 30s will be able to look better a year from now than they do today, simply by working to improve their appearance. You might think that you've already "perfected" your look, when the reality is that you've just come to terms with it. Do you dress and do your make up like the 30-something models you see in clothing magazines? Are you in perfect shape? Do you understand your complexion perfectly? Etc.
- Filter, filter, filter. Leverage your life experience or dating experience to recognize immediately the men who just want sex, or are uncertain of their future with you. They are wasting your limited time. Treat them like the leeches they are: cut them off, and make time in your life for the men who are interested in you as a person.
- Do not get fat. This is critical. Your figure is crucial to your attractiveness, and you have too many other things working against you to give up control of it. If you are single, over 30 and getting fat, you are pretty much screwed. At best you will have to settle for a sloppy man who doesn't respect himself, doesn't attract you, and doesn't find you attractive. This might be an unfortunate truth, but it is a truth nonetheless. Do not get fat.
- Do not "hang in there." While it was reasonable for your college boyfriend to delay proposing until he graduated or got a steady job, there is no such excuse at your age. A relationship should escalate continually (even if it escalates slowly) until he proposes. There should be no "plateau" or "lag" in intimacy until well after marriage. An excuse about wanting to wait at your age is merely a guise for his indecision. Once he starts to doubt his future with you, I promise that it is the beginning of the end. Make it the end of the end by beating him to the punch and breaking up with him. If he was mistaken, he will ask for you back.
- Stay in shape. I realize I am repeating myself. I am doing so because it is important. As a woman ages, her fitness becomes increasingly important, because it increasingly sets her apart from other women. By staying (or getting) in shape while most other women are starting to fall off the fitness cliff, you will crush the competition. Unless you are already a nutrition, diet and exercise freak, staying in shape will almost certainly require that you become one. But the satisfaction you were used to getting from food will soon be replaced by satisfaction from your relationships with men.
As you can tell from the number of bullet points above that start with "Avoid" and "Recognize," the overarching themes for dating in your 30s (with the intent of marriage) are filtering and acceptance. In other words, screening out the men who aren't interested in a serious relationship, and accepting the fact that you are in a tough situation that necessitates stepping up your game.