Dating in your early 30s? What's your advice about it and how do you get over feeling lonely at times?

I'm a single, European female in my very early 30s, and I haven't had a significant relationship since college. I broke up with my then boyfriend because he did not agree with my career path - I was preparing for a career in international development.

For the past 8 years, I have traveled across many countries in Africa and I loved every single minute of it. My career brought me a lot of joy and fulfillment, however, dating opportunities were almost non-existent. In these past few years, the only opportunity worth mentioning came from an American co-worker and I declined it. He was 16 years older than me, and although we got along great, had a lot in common, and a similar mindset, I was not attracted to him because he was a man in his mid 40s and I wasn't even 30 yet. The age difference is important to me, no matter how much we may match personalities... I won't be attracted to you romantically/sexually if you're 5+ older than me.

Since March '20, I had been based in my home country, working remotely. Since then, I had a few attempts at dating, as much as Covid-19 allowed it. They were all piss poor: It was either expected to drop my career and settle in the country, or I even heard something along the lines of "you have a strong personality and in a relationship, I want to be a man who is needed". This one was actually pretty damn correct: I don't just want... a man, I want an equal to share life with.

No matter how much I try to avoid it, I do feel lonely. I don't regret my choice to go down this path, but I do admit: I am bitter. I have an education, a successful career, financially secure, not unfortunate looking, and most of the people that I worked with or became my friends genuinely liked me and respected me. I seem to do a lot of things right, so how come I can't find a match? What's your advice for overcoming bitterness, loneliness, and your take to dating if you were career-focused in your 20s?
Dating in your early 30s? What's your advice about it and how do you get over feeling lonely at times?
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