Remember when we were young and LIVED for the dramatics of a relationship? In high school we gossiped about who pashed who at the footy oval last Friday night. Then we would take sides when the inevitable breakups came about. It was glorious.
In our 20s it cranked up a notch. The introduction of alcohol to our social lives meant cheaters were caught and publicly shamed. Accidental pregnancies induced minor freakouts, and crushes on the boss at work were inevitable.
"It's okay," we thought to ourselves, "Once we hit our 30s it's all smooth sailing." Yep, we thought we'd settle down, get married, perhaps have some kids and live out the rest of our life drama free.
Umm … question … why did no one send out a memo saying: "LOL, WRONG! We're just getting started, baby!"
Yep, I've had this realisation quite a few times over the past couple of weeks. One recent "wow" moment was during a chat for my Kinda Sorta Dating podcast with Kyla Kirkpatrick, aka the "Champagne Dame" from The Real Housewives of Melbourne.
You see, right before lockdown last year she was set to get married, however a month before the mighty walk down the aisle her fiance called the whole thing off.
I know right, it's like a storyline straight out of Bold and the Beautiful. But wait it gets worse … thanks to lockdown, they then had to live together in the crushing aftermath. And what's their current relationship status?? Well, let's just say if they had to tick a box on Facebook it would be "It's complicated".
I took a look around my own friend group and realised we've all had our own daytime soap opera scenarios in our 30s. You see, unlike our 20s when we weren't married, there were no kids in the situation and mortgages were just a glimpse into the future, all that dating drama was just fodder.
Now, in our 30s and beyond, the drama is served with an extra side of fries.
One married friend went on a girls' trip to Europe with me a few summers ago, ended up having the time of her life and decided to not come back. Yup. Not come back to her marriage or her old life in Australia. Packed it all in and started again. (Just quietly, bravo girlfriend.)
Another left her job and moved interstate after she had an affair.
One other story I heard on the grapevine was about a married high school teacher being caught out with another married teacher – risking a scandal, potential unemployment, a divorce and family break up.
So why aren't we all just content with what we've got? Well, those #blessed enough to be in a relationship anyway.
Actually come to think of it, even us singletons don't get off scot-free.
Dating in your 30s as a woman means living with the constant fear that blokes your age are looking for someone younger and perhaps more fertile.
We're often left with a dating pool filled with Peter Pans who are still not quite ready to settle down or have mothers who ain't going nowhere.
We're also bringing extra baggage into relationships thanks to an extra decade of dating, or helping our newly divorced lovers circumnavigate this new world of freedom – which takes a LOT of energy.
Add to that the fatigue of maintaining a career, paying off a mortgage and attempting to #adult properly and dating in your 30s sure is a heck of a ride.
So pull up a chair, pass the popcorn and settle in for the ride. Because let's be honest, the dating, marriage and love dramatics are just getting started.
• Jana Hocking is a podcaster and collector of kind-of-boyfriends