Whether you’re divorced or haven’t found the right person, dating in your forties can be difficult. If this is your first time getting back out there, the rules have changed, and times are different. Maybe when you first began dating, online dating didn’t exist.
Gone are the days of putting on a nice outfit and heading out to the supermarket, hoping to bump into an older hottie. Instead of posting terms like an SDM looking for an SDF in your local newspaper (Google it, kids!), you’re now downloading apps to find your one true love.
If you’re 40+ and ready to start dating again, hold on to your neon socks because while some old-school rules haven’t changed, you’ll need to adjust to the new, altered rules. If you’re ready, here are 12 surefire ways to help you navigate dating in your 40s.
Be Sure You're Ready to Date
You’re tired of sitting on the couch watching Netflix with a pint of ice cream every weekend. You’re ready to date! Or are you? When it comes to dating, you may feel like you’re ready to get back out there, but thinking about it makes you want to bury yourself under your comforter. If this is you, that’s okay. You may be tired of being alone on the weekend, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you want to date. You may need a hobby instead.
However, if you are ready, that’s okay, too. The best thing to do when you venture out on a first date with Mr. Wonderful is to ensure you are both on the same page. Are you looking for a relationship or simply getting your toes wet in the dating pool? Do you want a friendship more than a relationship? It’s best to find out these things before venturing into something.
Patience, Patience, and More Patience
One thing about dating in your 40s is that you may feel pressured to find your soul mate and end up in a relationship with someone who isn’t right for you. Be easy when it comes to finding the right person. If you rush, you may spend more time in a lousy relationship than if you were still looking.
Know what your dealbreakers are. Can you be involved with a man with several kids (we’ll talk more about that later), or is that a hard pass for you? What about finances? Does he need to own a home? These are some of the things you need to think about.
Does he really need to speak four languages and have a house in Tuscany before you even consider grabbing a sandwich with him at Panera Bread? Keep options open because if you stay tried and true to your list, you may find yourself alone.
Take Your Time
This point is about patience because rushing into a relationship may only bring you a bad one. Additionally, if you find a good guy who meets most (if not all) of your requirements, take a breath and relax. Enjoy each other before introducing him to family and friends.
Finally, if you have children, wait a few months before the kiddos meet him. Sure, it’s understandable that you want to lock him down since you’ve waited this long to find him, but rushing things will do you no good and may even cause you to make irrational decisions regarding things like sex and marriage.
Keep Your Independence
You have been independent for this long, so continue the trend. Just because a new relationship is on the horizon doesn’t mean you have to move in and get a joint bank account immediately. Enjoy and savor the relationship while still maintaining your individuality. If you frequent flea markets every Saturday, continue to do so.
However, if you’d like to include your new partner in your activities, do that as well. You can be one half of a couple and still maintain your individuality. A nice perk to 40+ dating is that you most likely have acquired a sense of who you are and what you enjoy. Anyone that comes along will simply be an asset to your lifestyle.
Being independent along with interdependent means that you are a person that can function well being on your own. However, you are comfortable fulfilling your partner’s needs as they are with you. Being independent also means gender stereotypes aren’t an issue. As a dating 40-something woman, you take no issue with picking up the check, and as a 40-something man, you have no problem having your date pick up the tab.
Keep Your Agenda Clear
In your early dating years, partying and having a good time was most likely your agenda, but in your 40s, people are looking for slightly more. Sure, a few of those still just want to party, and that’s fine, but for those looking to find a true partner to settle down with, keep your plan clear.
Establish career goals. Do you both intend to have kids together? What is the suggested living situation? These are all topics to discuss relatively early on in the relationship. If they shy away from the discussion, they are not interested in anything long-term. That’s fine, too, but you need to decide if this is what you want. If not, move on.
Social Media Expectations
If you’re in the 40-something range, social media is something you didn’t have to deal with over two decades ago. Welcome to the new age! When you were in your 20s, there was no such thing as Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, but today, these apps connect the world. You may be savvy regarding these apps, but maybe your date isn’t. Do not post images of the first date without consent. He may not feel comfortable splashed all over social media.
If possible, wait until the third or fourth date. Not posting may sound ridiculous to those in their 20s because nowadays, date posting is a rite of passage, but a 40-year-old may not be interested in seeing themselves tagged (if they’re even on social media) in a photo for the world to see.
Play it safe, and enjoy getting to know one another. If you are both okay with taking pictures, maybe you can email them to each other. Your followers will be okay not knowing who you had dinner with and what you had to eat.
Make the First Date Fun
Of course, you want to know about his dating history, finances, career choice, and much more, but keep it light for the first date. Enjoy each other’s company instead of discussing heavy topics like politics and religion.
A first date should be about getting to know the person. Discussing politics is not a bad thing if you can keep it light. If the conversation gets heated, change the subject. You don’t have to discuss how much you hate your boss (even if you feel that way). Additionally, keep all those TMI talks with family and friends. Instead, talk about topics like:
Favorite vacation spots
Anything that makes you smile
*Only if it’s an enjoyable conversation
You are mature and not trying to impress anyone. You should never ever have to apologize for who you are. Present yourself authentically; if it doesn’t mesh with your date, then that’s okay. You’ve had your fair share of pretending to be something you’re not in order to please people, but that’s hard to keep up long-term, and eventually, you will wear yourself out and may even end up resenting your partner.
Additionally, don’t discuss your “baggage” on the first date. It will come up eventually, and if they can’t accept it, it’s best to know early. However, attempting to hide a particular aspect of your life will cause more frustration in the future, so it will need to be discussed eventually, but definitely not on your first date. You’ll know the appropriate time.
Unfortunately, women, in particular, seem to always be apologetic for what they consider are shortcomings. For instance, a common question for women in their 40s is why they are not married. While men are considered endearing bachelors who can’t be tied down, women are seen as spinsters and old maids. Never apologize for where you are in life. If the question comes up, tell the truth and don’t make any justifications for your life situations. Be open and honest.
Kids may not be a first-date topic unless it’s a general discussion. However, as a woman, if you’re in your 40s, the subject of children should come up relatively early. First, you’ll want to know if your date has children. Are they minors or adult children? Do they want more children?
When it comes to meeting the kids, take your time until not only both of you feel comfortable with the idea but also the children. If you decide to move in together in your 40s, minor children will likely still be living under your roof, so it’s best to ease into the situation. To eliminate discomfort with a first meeting, make plans that involve several families so there will be less pressure.
If you find yourself judging (And yes, sometimes we do it unintentionally), keep the preconceived notions to yourself. We tend to judge due to past experiences but keep an open mind. Not everyone is the same.
For example, your previous experience tells you that someone with high debt is terrible with money. Maybe they have debt because they put their daughter through law school and are working on paying it off. Withholding judgment allows your date to possibly surprise you with his life experiences, which can create a more positive dating experience overall.
Remember dating someone in your 20s and thinking, Is this the guy for me? Remember the thoughts of Is he lying? Is he a creep? Does he have a girlfriend in every U.S. city? At this point, you should always trust your instincts. You’re in your 40s now, so being a naive 20 and 30-year-old is no longer an excuse.
You know the red flags and caveats that make you head for the hills, so stop questioning yourself. Once you trust your instincts, you’ll be able to move forward in the relationship with a clear mind based on how you feel.
Navigating through dating apps for people 40+ tends to be a little scary because it’s something that may be new to you. Take a deep breath and relax because they’re actually fun if you approach them with the right attitude. A big plus of a dating app is that they weed out non-compatible seeds quickly. Joining a dating website also helps you open your mind a little more regarding the type of person you’re looking to make a connection with.
The pros definitely outweigh the cons. For instance, most apps have a specific category for people ready for a serious relationship instead of going on 3-4 dates only to find out the person isn’t interested in a long-term relationship or that they’re not your type.
That said, for those just looking to hook up, there are apps catered to those people as well. In addition, specific sites are age-restricted, meaning if you’re 40-something, you won’t be matched with a 30-something-year-old. However, if you are looking for a 30-something-year-old, a dating app can help you with that, too.
You can also find apps dedicated to the LGBTQ community, for career-oriented people, and even for outgoing women and shy men. Apps allow you to narrow your search and find that possible lifetime mate sooner. Here are 5 top benefits of over 40 dating apps:
The options are readily available if you’re a seasoned pro or a complete newbie to dating in your 40s. Regardless of age and whether or not you’re single or divorced, the bottom line is there are plenty of people of every age searching for the same thing you are. The good news is that you have options, so enjoy this time of your life because you deserve it.