Tips For Dating In Your 40s & Beyond
By Sarah Fader
Updated December 12, 2018
Reviewer Wendy Boring-Bray, DBH, LPC
It can be difficult to start dating when you're in your forties. You may be thinking, "I am way too old to be dating at this point in my life. Everyone's who's available at my age probably has their own set of baggage that I'd have to deal with."
While this may be true, don't we all have baggage at any age? The key is to find someone who doesn't let their problems rule their life. There is undoubtedly someone out there who is in the same or a similar situation to your own, and who may be as hesitant to dive back into the dating pool but, like you, do so anyway with the hope that they will meet their perfect person.
Tip #1 - Be Open To Change
Dating after 40 can be tough. More than likely, a lot has changed since you last put yourself out there. For instance, you don't have to tell someone all there is to know about you on the first date, they'll know everything you've ever posted in a public forum (and maybe some things you haven't) by the second date with one quick Google search.
And how about text etiquette? Texting had all but replaced the need to call someone, but what are the rules? How long should you wait to text someone back? What do you say in a text, and what is better said face-to-face? Is it ever okay to break-up by text? These are all things that you may need to research before getting back into the dating game, especially if you don't have children who can keep you up to speed on these things.
But that's okay! Change can be a good thing, too. You may find texting to be infinitely more helpful than making a phone call because you can think about what you want to say before you say it. This is especially helpful in the earlier days of dating someone new, as you may fear to trip over your words or saying something "stupid" to turn off your new partner while the relationship is still delicate.
You will never regret embracing change. Things are being updated all the time to improve the way they have always been done. If you find yourself stuck in your old ways, even if they have proven infallible in the past, there may be an easier way to do things, and you are closing yourself out.
Tip #2 - Accept That Some Things Never Change
While plenty has changed in the dating world, there remains much left that hasn't. There will always be good dates and bad dates. Don't spend the whole date talking about your ex. Don't spend more time on your phone than trying to get to know the person in front of you.
Here's one that may be new to you, but not for your demographic: don't harp on your age. Age may have been a deciding factor when you were in your teens and twenties, but now that you're in your forties, it doesn't matter how old you are.
If you're 45, and you're dating someone who's 41, he or she isn't going to care how close to 50 you are. The chances are good that you already have many things in common:
- You've probably both been married
- You probably both have children.
- You are probably both widowed, or have experienced a betrayal that leads to the breakup of your marriage.
- You are probably both settled in your careers.
- You may both have pets.
And the biggest one that you two now share: you're both looking to live out your remaining years with someone worthy of your time. Maybe you both have decided that you never want to get married again. Maybe you're both holding out hope that you may one day get married again if you find the right person.
Either way, you have both, more than likely, hit most, if not all, of the major milestones in life. This is both easier and harder for those who are dating over 40. It's easier because you don't have to worry about your biological clock, if you're a woman, or about finding the right career before you settle down and get married.
It can be harder because now that you have had more life experience and you know what you want in a mate, you may have to suffer through a lot of bad apples before you find the perfect match.
Plus, things can become more complicated when you already have children. Not only do they have to be okay with your dating someone who isn't their parent, but they may also feel as if they are being forced to get along with your partner and his or her children - something they may not want or be able to do.
Tip #3 - Designing Your Next Relationship Before You Dive In
Getting back to the idea that you have a better idea of what you want in your forties than you ever did in your twenties, it is a good idea to map out your next relationship before you even start to date. This gives you more time to enjoy being alone, to date yourself, in a way.
Make a written list, if you feel so inclined, of all the things that you want from your next partner. Be as candid as possible with your list, including sexual turn-ons and turn-offs. Maybe there's something that your former partner did that annoyed you, or something he or she didn't do that you wish they did. Add these things to the list. If you find similar traits in your next partner, and they aren't worth compromising, then you'll know to throw that fish back into the sea and try again.
Tip #4 - Location, Location, Location
Now that you've decided you want to date again…where does one go to do it? Sure, you can go to a bar if you want a quick hookup, but is this the place to find something more long-term?
You can't beat "cute meeting" situations, where you drop your basket of groceries in the supermarket, and Mr. or Mrs. Right helps you clean them up. But how often do these things happen in real life? And who wants to wait years for a chance encounter that may never happen?
If you want to take matters into your own hands, then there are some ways to do so. Of course, there's the old-fashioned way, which is to meet someone through a mutual friend. But at this age, it is more likely that your friends' friends are of a similar age, and that everyone is either married or happily paired off.
You may be reluctant at first, but online dating is one of the best ways to meet new people in your forties. You may be thinking: "online dating? Isn't that the fastest way to meet your end at the hands of a serial killer?" While online dating was initially a risky way to meet people, dating apps have evolved over the years to the point where you can do a fair amount of evaluating before you ever meet a person in real life.
BestLife.com has a list of 10 of the best dating apps they recommend to people over the age of 40. Rounding out the top three entries in this list are PlentyofFish, Match.com, and OkCupid. But how do you know which app to use? What's the difference? Don't they all do the same thing?
Well, for one thing, while some dating apps, like Match.com, charge a monthly fee, other apps, like OkCupid are free to use. All three of these sites have been around forever, and OkCupid is recommended for people over the age of 40 because users are typically looking for more of a long-term connection.
Match.com is great for this demographic as well because over 75 percent of its users are over the age of 30. The best way to meet someone new is to try out more than one app. You'll never know which app your future soulmate prefers until you run into them.
Tip #5 - Take Care Of Yourself
The best advice for dating in your 40s may be something you're not ready to hear: you need to work on getting back in shape if you aren't already. Thisis not meantto impress others with a sexier body, thisis meantto take care of yourself, and to do something for yourself that happens to win other people over. Showing people you care about yourself is one of the sexiest things you can do.
Not to mention, you will be doing yourself a favor by taking steps to improve your health. No one wants to suffer from aches and pains or to be less limber than they were in high school. Eating right and exercising regularly will stave off old age and, as a side benefit, you'll look better and younger than you ever did before. You can never go wrong by taking care of yourself first. Your Mr. or Mrs. Perfect will soon follow.
Seeking more advice and tips for dating in your forties? Feel free to reach out to one of our counselors, who are available 24/7 to provide guidance and support.