Finding love when you're over forty
You’re forty, you’re single, and you’re thinking about dating again, but there are some things you should know before you leap back into the mating maelstrom.
Chances are, if you’re reading this, you’ve been married once or twice and it’s been some time since you’ve done the dating circuit. Fasten your seatbelt and prepare yourself for a wild ride- things have changed quite a bit since you were in your teens.
1. Are you ready?
Be self-aware. Know what you want and why. It seems that no matter our age, there is pressure to find a partner. When we’re in our teens, we want a boy or girlfriend because all our friends have one; in our twenties, we seek a significant other because we’d like to have a bit of fun- some overseas travel or seriously reducing a mortgage before we start a family; and in our thirties, our biological clocks are ticking resoundingly loudly. In our forties, all our friends are married and we’re not, so we desperately seek a partner to avoid loneliness. It might also be a last-ditch effort to find someone with whom to have a family.
You should also ask yourself, ‘What can, and what will I offer to someone else, and what do I expect in return? What do I really want from a relationship?’ Be honest. The things people want from dating are as varied as the people themselves; for some, it may be a desire to find love- to settle down with a life partner- someone with whom to grow old; for others it might be a desire for fun or for company, while for others it’s simply a desire for sex.
2. How do you meet someone?
You have probably found that when you DO go out, most of the people with whom you associate will already be in a relationship. So, apart from the traditional methods (ie. bumping into someone at the shops, at a bar, at a dance), how do you go about meeting someone?
Social clubs can be a great way to meet new people, and they can also be a great way to simply spend time with like-minded individuals. Often, social clubs focus on activities available in the vicinity of the club, whether it be sporting activities, the arts or books. Often these clubs are open to anyone- married or single, but singles tend to constitute the majority of the members. There are also social clubs which limit membership to singles, and there are even clubs specifying sexual preference (heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual and swingers).
This method of meeting others involves a round-robin of dates lasting for anything from three to ten minutes. The advantages are that everyone present falls within a certain age range, you know that everyone is there to meet someone, the time limit ensures that you will not be stuck with someone you consider boring, it is time-efficient, no-one can misrepresent him/herself by providing a twenty-year old photograph of themselves on the net to score a date, and no-one is rejected to his/her face: your contact details are provided to the convenor before dating commences, and if- at the conclusion of dating- two people indicate that they’d like to further
their introduction to one another, details are ‘traded’.
Some dating agencies and travel agents organise singles holidays to various destinations around the world. The idea is that groups of like-minded and age-matched singles take a vacation together. At worst, you’ll meet new people and make new friends. At best, you may find the love of your life. At least you won’t be holidaying with honeymooning twosomes or couples who are interested only in each other.
Years ago, those who endeavoured to find love on the internet probably wouldn’t have admitted to it. In fact, some still feel this way. One woman, Angela, who, at the age of twenty-nine and having been exclusively dating for three years, remains reluctant to divulge that she and her boyfriend met via an on-line dating site (Plenty of Fish, or pof for short), whereas others don’t mind at all. And it CAN be an interesting experience.
The sites typically require that you elect your relationship goal, which can be anything from “hook-up”, “casual sex” or “activity partner” to “hanging out”, “friendship”, “dating” and “long term”. You need to be careful about what option you choose, too. “I vividly remember my first foray into online dating“, says Rachel- a forty-plus woman. “I was simply looking for a ballroom dancing partner, so I clicked on “activity partner”, imagining singles advertising for tennis partners and the like. I was offered something vastly different”, she says, giggling.
My advice is to choose the option you would ULTIMATELY like. If you really are only interested in a hook-up or casual sex, then select that option. If you would like a long term relationship, then make that your selection.
And BE HONEST. Imagining that you have a better chance of attracting a partner by writing that you love sport, for example, won’t benefit you in the long-term. Represent yourself as you really are. You may get fewer “hits”, but that way, you have a greater chance of being contacted by someone suitable.
3. The First Date
Apply the KISS principle (Keep It Simple Stupid).
K- Keep it short. Not dinner- if you don’t like him or her, you’re stuck with your date for a whole three courses. Coffee is ideal.
I- In a busy, public place.
S- Slip on something appropriate. If you’ve arranged to stroll through a park, don’t wear stilettos. Spend time on your hair and makeup.
S- Speaking. Hopefully you’ve established some common ground already, with emails and phone calls, but it never hurts to have a few conversation starters in mind. Ask open-ended questions: “Tell me about your job” is more likely to evoke a lengthy response than, “Where do you work?”
Poor self-concept. Poor self-image. Your children. Your ex. Expectations too high or too low. Once bitten…the list goes on. It really would be easier to simply surrender, as did one friend of mine, who was appalled at men who wanted sex on the first date. Better to have the attitude of another friend, who declared “I’d be surprised if they didn’t!” and went on to repeat her mother’s mantra: “It’s a man’s prerogative to ask, and it’s a woman’s prerogative to say no”.
Trust me, it’s worth the risk. And even if you don’t find your “perfect match”, you’ll have some funny stories to share around your metaphorical campfire in the future.