I remember exactly where I was when I had my first, "Oh, that's what they mean when they say you're 'over the hill' moment."
It was New Year's Eve, and I was in Byron Bay on a girls' trip. A male friend of mine had spotted one of my friends in an Instagram story and asked me to set him up with her. I checked if she was interested and sadly for this cupid, it was a no.
I tried to soften the blow and said what all good cupids in a crisis say: "Sorry she's just started seeing someone."
To which he responded "Oh, that's okay, she's too old for me anyway."
Now let me give you some background here, she is 37 and he is 45.
When I responded with an, "Umm … excuse me … what?!" He replied: "Like I said, she's too old. I want kids one day."
Now imagine one of those cartoon characters that's so furious that smoke literally comes out of their ears. Yeah, well, it's safe to say that was me.
I text back furiously that 1. She had her eggs frozen years ago, so joke's on him. And 2. She's NOT actually seeing someone else, she just thinks you're a flog.
Okay, so I may have been a little brutal, but seriously?! Not today, Satan!
I had another experience recently when some bloke in the US came across one of my articles and shared it on his YouTube channel with his thousands of followers under the title 'Jana Hocking shows why women are shocked when they hit the wall'.
For 27 minutes he discussed at length why someone my age has left it too late to find someone special and should basically settle for whatever I can get.
I was then inundated by his followers on my Instagram account, with messages telling me I'm washed up, too old, a waste of space, I'll be single forever and worse. Much worse.
Now bless their cotton socks, they really helped with my page engagement for the week, but, of course, not one of them used their real name or had their real picture on their profiles.
For blokes with such strong opinions, they sure like to hide behind fake Insta accounts.
Anyway, I'd like to say I had a little lol and moved on, but upon reflection I think I may have taken some of it to heart.
Over the next month I lost interest in the dating apps, couldn't really muster up the courage to go on a date and, in a rather dark moment, scheduled in an extra dose of Botox.
I had this awful realisation that many men have a cut-off age of 35 years old on the dating apps – despite their own age being significantly older.
So when my lovely mentor, and MAFS expert, Mel Schilling came on my Kinda Sorta Dating podcast this week, I had a bit of a sook about my current dilemma and she was having none of it. Yep, she really fired up and snapped me out of my pity-party-for-one.
"BLOCK AND DELETE," she screamed. "That's not all blokes, Jana, and do you really care what those ageists think?! There is no room in our lives for those outdated attitudes.
"Do not even waste your energy on people who are going to have those views. They are so irrelevant to our lives."
Yep, she really went off, and it was glorious! It was like a cold splash of water in the face that I needed.
And it turns out I'm not the only one having these feelings. New research commissioned by eHarmony found that singles over 35 are holding back more than Gen Z, with 69 per cent mistakenly believing they're "too old" for love.
So what was her advice? If you are in a space where you are saying to yourself: "I'm actually ready for something serious and I'm looking for someone at the same point", the first thing to do is to block and delete anyone whose values don't align with yours.
They are taking up energy that could be given to someone who deserves it.
Let the blokes have their midlife crises, with their terrible new haircuts, tragic sports cars, ogling at young women, and let's find ourselves someone a little more mature. With a personality that matches ours and core values that run deeper than appearance.
Now wouldn't that be a lovely relationship to find yourself in? Let's aim higher ladies, and don't let a few duds get you down (note to self).
Jana Hocking is a podcaster and collector of kind-of-boyfriends | @jana_hocking