It can be difficult to start dating when you're in your 40s or older, whether you've dated before or are starting out. However, with some speed dating advice and a positive outlook, you might enjoy the company of new people and discovering new relationships. You're not "too old" to date, and there may be many other singles like you looking for a relationship.
Whether you have children, pets, a home, a busy job, or any other commitment, you're not alone, and dating can be possible. There may be someone out there who is in the same or a similar situation to your own. Older people find love and get married often, and these connections are not reserved for those in their 20s and 30s.
Tips For Dating After 40
Whether you're just starting in the dating scene or have been looking for a while, below are some tips for dating after 40.
Create A List Of Priorities And Dealbreakers
Before you start looking for a partner, list your priorities for a relationship and dealbreakers that you wouldn't be comfortable with in a relationship. For example, you might write that you're looking for a partner to be part of your family and spend time with you and your children. Your dealbreaker might be that you don't want to date someone without children or who doesn't want to be a part of your children's lives.
You can also add the following specifications to your list:
- Age range
- Personality type (introverted or extroverted?)
- Cat or dog person
- Night owl or morning person
- Favorite activities
It's normal to be picky when looking for a partner. You may feel you must "settle" for someone due to your age, but try not to do so. Settling for the wrong person might cause you more hurt than waiting for the right one.
Look For Dating Resources
It can be challenging to date over 40 if younger people not interested in an older partner take up local dating spaces. In these cases, you might look for speed dating events specifically for older adults. You can also check out the following:
- Older adult groups online
- Older adult community centers
- Dating websites for people over 40
- Dating apps
- Local bars frequented by your friends
- Take local classes
- Take up a new hobby
If you sign up for a speed dating event, you'll get to spend a few minutes talking to others looking for love.
Many speed dating events are specifically for heterosexual or bisexual individuals and may not offer options for older gay or lesbian individuals. If you are looking for a partner of the same gender, you might try getting involved in a local group for older lesbians or gays or finding an LGBTQ+ center to talk to about hosting a speed dating event for older people in your community.
There may be stereotypes repeated by others in your life or the people you date about dating over 40. For example, someone might tell you you're "too old" to date multiple people before you find a partner. You might be expected to settle down or lower your expectations. Try to ignore these demands.
Your dating life is your own, and you can go about it as you need. If a potential partner moves too fast with you, you can tell them you're uncomfortable continuing the relationship.
Speak up if you face sexism, ageism, ableism, or another concern. There are unhealthy people in all age groups, and being older doesn't allow someone to be unkind to you about your age, weight, body, gender, or identity.
Set Healthy Boundaries
Setting healthy boundaries can be another way to stay safe and find a healthy partner. Boundaries are rules you set for your body, time, belongings, mental health, and space. While dating, you might notice that some people try to push you in areas you're not comfortable with. Setting boundaries means stating a firm "no" or "yes." You don't have to explain yourself if you're uncomfortable doing so.
You may benefit from setting boundaries if you notice dating "red flags," like the following:
- Pushing for too much too fast (marriage, kids, living together)
- Disregarding your boundaries (coming over when you told them not to)
- Texting you or calling when you've asked them to stop
- Sending unkind messages when you don't immediately respond
- Showing more interest in physical connections than emotional (if you're not looking for a purely physical connection)
- Attempting to control what you wear, who you see, or where you go
- Being extremely jealous of your ex-partner, children, or family
- Ignoring you for days or weeks on end
- Refusing to video chat or talk on the phone (if you're in a long-distance relationship)
- Using photos of a celebrity or influencer as their profile pictures online and stating they are that person (in a long-distance relationship)
- Asking you for significant amounts of money
- Asking prying questions about your home, finances, job, retirement, or assets
Note that domestic violence and abuse can happen to anyone at any age. If you see red flags in a partner, these red flags may escalate to abuse over time. You're not alone if you're experiencing this treatment, and resources are available.
If you are facing or witnessing abuse of any kind, the National Domestic Violence Hotline is available 24/7 for support. Call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or text "START" to 88788. You can also use the online chat.
While dating, try to be patient. Finding a partner you connect with that meets your requirements might take some time. Some older individuals might try to rush the dating process out of fear of being "too old" to find a life partner. However, people find love at every age, including in the final years of life. Be active in your community and show your genuine self with those you meet. You may find someone who complements you and makes you feel loved for who you are.
Trust Your Instincts
Try to trust your instincts while dating. If you feel that someone isn't who they say they are or that they're lying to you, trust this. Instead of spending significant time trying to connect with someone who might be unhealthy, let the relationship go and continue your search. If your instincts tell you the situation is unhealthy, you might be subconsciously picking up on cues the other person is offering about their character or true intentions.
Go At Your Own Pace
If you find someone you're in love with and they feel the same, it may not be unhealthy to move forward with commitment if you're both ready. As an older adult, you may have already lived a commitment with another person in the past. Moving in together, joining finances, or discussing the future might be more easy because of your age. Although moving quickly can be a "red flag" in some cases, if you're both committed to it and feel it's healthy, do what you believe is right.
Find A Support System
Dating after 40 can come with challenges. If you're struggling to put yourself out there or don't know where to start, you might consider looking for a support system. A support system can include family members, your pets, a religious support leader, or a counselor.
If you've decided counseling might help you, you can connect with a professional in various ways. Some people feel most comfortable talking to a therapist from home, which can be possible with online platforms like BetterHelp. Through an online therapy platform, you can get matched with a therapist specializing in your concerns. You can also choose between phone, video, or chat therapy sessions, depending on your comfort level.
In addition, you don't have to have a mental illness or significant problem to see a counselor. Counselors are there to offer life advice, including advice connected to dating and finding healthy partners. Studies have backed up this practice, showcasing that internet-based therapy is more reachable, more cost-effective, and as effective as in-person counseling.
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