Entering the dating scene when you’re over 40 can feel daunting. For one, the pool of available men and women may seem like you’re looking at a lot of dented cans at the grocery store. They may have been single for way too long and for a reason or bruised and shaken from an ugly divorce and brimming with vitriol and resentment against any and all men or women.
Regardless, while the pool of men and women looking for you may be smaller, there are men and women out there looking for women just like you. You might just have to look a little bit harder.
The things you should carry with you as you begin dating again are these truths:
You know who you are.
You are a mature, grown person. You’ve lived in your own skin for 40+ years now and you’re not a little 20 something who’s willing to pretend they’re someone different to appease a potential mate.
You also know that you have your own personal baggage, whatever that may be. You might have an ex-husband or wife, children, a string of relationships that never reached marriage, or a string of nothing because you spent your 20s and 30s focused on your career. Either way, you have a strong sense of yourself, which is attractive in and of itself.
You’ve already found yourself, and if you’re struggling with liking yourself, it’s time to start practicing affirmations and giving yourself as much self-love as you can. After all, a good relationship can only be built if you love yourself first.
You know what you want.
You might think that you’re past your prime and that because your options are limited that you should settle. Nope. You’ve got to be patient. Don’t stay with the first ok person who comes along. Instead, know that there are people out there who are better for you. out They’re the ones you actually want to be with, and if someone ok treats you nicely for the meantime, that’s fine, but you do not settle.
You know what you want and you can and will get it. This also means you don’t play games. You’re clear about what you want: a relationship, a hook-up, a potential for marriage, or whatever. You state what you will and won’t accept. When you like or don’t like someone, you tell them. When you want or don’t want a next date, you tell them. When you want to grab them and kiss them, you do, gender roles be damned. You don’t have to play it safe or cool or wait 48 hours to call or text back anymore. Let the millennials fool with that nonsense because you understand that time is precious and you’re not about to waste your time.
You know what you don’t want.
Maybe you’re cool with cans that are little dented. Maybe you love the ones that looked like someone threw them out of a moving car. Maybe you like the ones that look like they showed up on the shelf having been encased in bubble wrap. Maybe you don’t want someone who has three kids. Maybe you’re cool with someone going through or having gone through a major transition in life (just divorced, about to change careers, etc.) or maybe you’re not. You know what your deal breakers are and, again, you don’t have to settle. Someone will come around that has the qualities and/or life circumstances you’re looking for.
You know how to be flexible.
You wouldn’t be entering the dating scene now if your last relationship was 100% successful, so be open to people that might not fit all of your external requirements. They might be a little short or not make as much money as you’d like or have kids, for example. What should matter for you is if they seem to be going in the same direction as you are, if they value the same things, and if you can see yourself building a shared life with him or her.
So be open to going on dates with people who may not have all the qualities your previous partners had (because, again, those relationships didn’t work anyway). You may be surprised to find your heart gets taken by someone who’s younger or older than you thought you’d like, or who’s a poet instead of an accountant. When you close yourself off to opportunities, you might just be closing yourself off to real love.
You also might be closing yourself off to real learning opportunities. You may still be uncertain about what you want or don’t want, so what better way to assess that then to be a little flexible (within reason of course) with whom you choose? Even if you end up not finding your special someone from that one date, you’re bound to leave that date having learned something more about yourself.
You also know how to try new things. You may not like to (“He wants to take me axe-throwing?? What? I don’t want to do that!”), but you’ve reached your 40s having tried your hand at a lot of different things, and just because you know who you are doesn’t mean you can’t let yourself continue to be flexible. You’re a well-loved hair tie, my friend. You can stretch. You know what will make you break. Allow yourself to try new things because, hey, why not? All of your other relationships failed and your time is precious. You might even have more fun throwing axes than you ever thought you would.
Re-entering the dating scene in your 40s can seem difficult, but dating now isn’t all that different than when you were much younger. You’ll still get butterflies. You’ll still be wracked with anxiety. You’ll still wonder if he or she likes you as much as you like him or her. The saving grace is that you’re a much different person today, and dating can be incredibly fun, if you just let it.