Modern dating has changed dramatically over the past decade, so if you’re newly single it can be daunting to get back out there. (Especially when you’re a little out of practice!) But here’s the good news for all of you singles over 40—you’re wiser, you know what you want, you’re less impulsive, and you’re going to be so much better at dating than you were twenty years ago.
Naturally, you’re going to be a little unsure dipping your toes back into the dating pool, so here are 11 tips about getting back into dating in your 40s.
1. Make sure you’re ready to date again.
A lot of newly single men and women rush back into dating, either because their friends and family push them into it thinking it’s what they need in order to heal, or they themselves think they need a relationship to feel complete. But it’s so important that you recover from your previous relationships before jumping into another one, or you’ll continue to carry that emotional baggage with you forever.
When you’ve spent years alone or with one person, it can be difficult putting yourself out there and connecting intimately with someone new—so take as much time as you need. Take things slow, get to know each other, and allow that trust to grow organically over time.
2. Let go of the past. (But learn from it.)
Once you reach 40, you’re at a stage in your life where you finally understand what’s important when it comes to romantic relationships. You’re able to look back at your past ones and recognize any unhealthy patterns or mistakes you made, and learn from those so you get it right this time around.
Even if things ended on a bad note with your ex, try your best not to focus on it and move onwards and upwards. Dwelling on the past won’t do you any good, and mentioning your ex to someone new can be a big red flag that you’re not ready to meet someone yet.
And if you’re not ready yet—that’s okay too.
3. Take care of yourself.
There’s a lot of competition out there all the time, so you’ve gotta make sure you look and feel your best. Make sure you’re exercising, eating a healthy diet, keeping well groomed, and dressing in flattering clothes for your figure.
If you’re a woman, you don’t need to cake yourself in makeup and if you’re a man, you don’t need need to be sporting a six pack, but take care of yourself and you’ll be a total magnet when you start dating again.
4. Don’t settle.
When a lot of people hit 40— especially women—they believe they’re past their prime and think there won’t be many good opportunities coming their way. This leads people to settle for the first okay person who shows up, even if they can’t ever see themselves truly falling in love with this person.
Use your head, but make sure you’re choosing with your heart, and holding out for that special someone. You deserve that.
5. Do some confidence building.
Being newly single in your 40s can mean your confidence has taken a hit after a tough breakup or divorce. This can leave people feeling insecure, and lacking in self-worth and self-love, which makes it extremely difficult to regain a positive outlook and move forwards.
But there are so many ways you can start building yourself back up and feeling happy and at peace within.
Spend some time getting acquainted with who you are today, and start dating yourself before you begin dating other people. Take yourself out to a fancy dinner, explore a new city, or go and visit a local gallery or exhibition that interests you. The more confident you feel inside, the more confident you’ll appear on the outside.
6. Explore your passions.
When you’re married and kids are on the scene, your hobbies and interests often get put on the back burner, and you can begin to lose a sense of who you are without this other person. Taking time to explore your passions will help you gain a new lease of life, and it might even lead you to your next relationship.
Take a dance class, start playing an instrument, take photography lessons, go to a cooking class, try yoga, or go rock climbing—there are endless new things you can try, and who knows what you’ll end up enjoying.
7. Spend time with other singles.
If all your current friends are settled or married, you need to start getting out there and making some new friends. You’ll struggle to meet someone if you’re only ever hanging out with your married friends and their children.
Trying out new hobbies is a great way to meet single men or women of a similar age who are at the same stage of life as you, and get you out into the social scene after work and on the weekends. Remember, you won’t meet someone sitting at home on the sofa.
8. Take the pressure off.
Most people find it difficult to walk up to a stranger they’re attracted to and generate a conversation out of thin air, and when you’re just getting back into dating this is probably the last thing you want to do.
Lucky for you, we live in the age of online dating. You can chat to single strangers at ease, and get comfortable meeting new people at your own pace, with no pressure. After the first few times, you’ll feel like it’s no big deal, and you’ll become more relaxed in new situations.
9. Get clear on what you want.
Before you begin dating again, think about the qualities you’re looking for in a partner. You don’t have to be too specific, this will simply help you become clearer about the kind of person you want to attract.
Not everyone you meet will be on the same page as you, or be looking for the same things you are—so getting clear on what you want will prevent you wasting any of your precious time with someone who isn’t going to be able to reciprocate your feelings in the long run.
10. Don’t be afraid to make the first move.
A lot of people are shy or lacking in confidence, so it doesn’t matter if you’re a man or woman—don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and make the first move if you’re interested in someone.
After all, what’s the worst that can happen? They’re already taken or not interested, and you can move on to the next person knowing you didn’t miss out on something potentially great!
11. Forget that you are 40!
Just because there are younger people out there it doesn’t mean you’ll get passed over for them—so quit thinking that and let people make their own minds up, okay?!
Your age is simply a number, and I encourage you to forget all about it. Instead, make a list of all your best qualities, and the things that make you amazing. Celebrate who you are today. Attraction is largely down to self-confidence and energy. When you feel good within, people can pick up on those infectious vibrations.
Whatever you do, make sure you enjoy yourself, getting back into dating can see daunting at first but it can also be incredibly fun if you let it.