Women in their 40s and 50s often tell me it’s hard to date.
I know it can be tough putting yourself out there and finding someone. Especially if you’re newly divorced or coming out of another long-term relationship.
But here are some of the specific complaints I hear:
“There aren’t any good men.”
“No one is worth my time.”
“Guys don’t want to commit.”
Yes, many older men are either jaded, too stubborn, or uninterested in starting over and building something beautiful with you. But there are good men out there too. There are good 50-year-old guys out there. Just like there are good 20-year-old guys.
Here’s what I think the difference is.
As we get older, we tend to lose patience. We’re more rigid in our likes and dislikes. More demanding.
Dating stops being “dating.” It’s not about getting to know someone. About having fun. About forging a connection.
In effect, it becomes a job interview. Does this person possess the necessary qualifications?
Some women tell me they know if a man is “right” for them within a minute or two.
If he’s not “right,” they tune out. They start thinking about setting up a date with the next guy.
These women are not trying to date – they’re trying to close a deal. Trying to reach a finish line.
The desire is understandable. Some may feel like they don’t have time to waste. Others may barely remember what it’s like not to be in a committed relationship.
But there’s a big problem with “dating” like this: It’s exhausting! Demoralizing! Boring!
Dating is supposed to be fun. Interviewing is the opposite of fun. So, of course, dating becomes a slog. And many older women give up on it.
Don’t fall into this trap. Dating after forty can be amazing. You just have to reframe how you look at it.
It’s a mistake to arrive with a checklist of mandatory qualities. Don’t immediately try to determine if a man “fits” you. Take a deep breath.
Look at it as just a fun night out. An opportunity to get to know a new man. To see if he’s interesting as a person.
This is what most of us did when we were younger. You hung out with guys and got to know them. Sometimes a relationship would naturally flow out of that. Sometimes it didn’t.
That kind of dating is a lot more satisfying.
Because you focus on having fun. On simple companionship. On getting to know someone.
This is far better than trying to find someone to match the imaginary ideal in your head. Because you get to discover real people. And you feel less stressed when you leave your list of ideal attributes behind.
And it’s a lot easier to fall for a person over time. You discover depths you never would have noticed with a checklist-style of mate selection.
Are you ready to embrace this advice? Then let’s talk about how to make this mindset a reality as you search for relaxed enjoyment…and just maybe discover a partner in the process.
The first and most obvious thing to do: ditch your list of requirements for a man.
Now this doesn’t mean you can’t have “wants” and “deal breakers.” But be open to getting to know a guy before writing him off.
Maybe you want someone funny. And in the first five minutes, he isn’t. Writing him off is closing the door. But if you’d just chatted over the course of several days, he might have warmed up and shown more humor.
With that general idea in mind, let’s look at what you can do to focus on dating rather than mate selection.
Emphasize the activity. Fun dates mean doing fun things. Coffee dates are fine if all you want to do is sit and talk. But don’t be afraid to suggest something more exciting.
It doesn’t have to be hang-gliding either. Go bowling. Attend a concert. Take a hike. Hit up a local festival or carnival. Explore a new place.
You’ll learn a lot about what it’s like just to hang out and do something together. And even if you don’t click, hopefully the event itself will be fun!
Be present. Dating is about making a connection. But if you focus on requirements and prerequisites, you can’t make that connection. Because you won’t be present.
So instead of listening only to see if his “resume” fits, really pay attention. Ask open-ended questions. Get him telling stories. Be a good audience.
This will make him more likely to open up. And give you a far better idea about whether or not you have a connection.
Date outside your “type.” Tall. Conservative. Practical. Serious. Reads scientific periodicals. Enjoys TV crime dramas.
It’s okay if you typically go for a certain type of man. But if your “type” is too specific, it becomes restrictive. You basically end up limiting your options. Then you come to a relationship coach like me, saying there are no guys out there.
If this is working for you, great. But if you’re having trouble, there’s a way out of the rut.
Deliberately look for a guy who goes against type for you. Think of it as an adventure. Like going to a foreign country. You’re learning about the culture.
Many women who do this are surprised. Because they learn that dating men outside their “type” might not be so bad. It opens up their potential pool of men.
And you know right from the start that this guy is not going to fit your typical requirements. So, you become more open to just getting to know him. More open to having fun.
Dedicate time. Don’t give up on dating after a few first dates. Some women may find a great guy that quickly. But others won’t.
It takes time and effort. And you have to be willing to seek out new places and ways to find men that interest you.
And I’ve touched on this already, but it’s worth repeating. Don’t write guys off too quickly. Unless you’re literally speed-dating, you have to give a man more than one shot at impressing you.
When you decide to go out with someone, mentally dedicate yourself to a block of time. At least an hour, but preferably two or three hours spread over two or three different encounters.
If the experience is absolutely awful, obviously, you don’t have to stay. But in general, giving up too quickly is just going to make your dating experiences harder.
Remember, first dates shouldn’t be about finding a life partner. There’s no way you can really tell if someone will be right for you in the long-term in just one date.
So, have fun. Learn about him. And see if a connection – even a small one – starts to emerge.
Eventually it will happen. And the excitement you feel will utterly trump any satisfaction that comes with meeting a guy who matches your list.
To find a great guy after forty, slow down, have fun, and expand the range of “types” you will let into your life.
Well stated, CateG! 🙂
Trust your intuition ladies and never, ever second-guess yourself!
I am over 60 and was fortunate to find my mate after 6 months of on-line dating. I went out with anyone who was willing to meet-so many are not! Voyeurs? I have no idea. But I feel that I approached it with the attitude that even if it was horrible, it at least made for a funny story and I moved on. I had no expectations and no checklists or a “type” but I could tell in one meeting if we “clicked”. And I think that if you are a mature adult with any self-awareness at all, you have a pretty good idea if the two of you are compatible. So, sorry James, I don’t think it’s worthwhile sticking around for very long. I have a feeling that’s why people are alone in the first place; they kept trying to make it “work”. The work comes AFTER you’ve established the rapport and the relationship.
I am newly divorced(8 months), I feel like it’s time to put myself out there but don’t know how. I am in my early 40’s with 2 young kids and afraid of how men would mistreat my children. After reading your advice, I will give it a try with open mind ????
Go for it, Cho!!!
I’m in my early 50’s and back to dating. I was nervous to say the least. I signed up online and started going out on dates with many types of men. It really helped me to loosen up and not be nervous anymore.
I dated about a dozen men – some of them worth getting to know better… when I happened to meet an amazing man when I wasn’t looking. He was a bit older than I would have “accepted” a date with if I just saw his profile online… but when we met, it was instant mutual attraction! So far so good… we are both having a wonderful time!
Come on Sandy. I am an older man of 67. Your experiences are not typical. What happened to meeting for coffee?
Kevin, Hi, I have just read your reply. (I don’t know why I don’t seem to get many updates). I agree with Sandy – see my original response above – all of which still applys. I have had the most horrendous experiences with “online” men. One, I realized was my “date” when I first drove into the car park and spotted him walking towards me. I wish I had kept on driving!! He had on a crumpled checked shirt (no tie!) and scruffy looking trousers, and had not even bothered to polish his shoes – even though they were, at least, nice leather brogues. We had lunch, and when I politely “turned him down” for a second date – he asked if I would still have sex with him!! I could have fallen off the chair – but did manage to raise an ironical laugh. It was, after all, rather amusing, to say the least. I’m sure there are some really nice men out there (most of whom are still married!), and you sound like one of them, but as I say, they do get snapped up pretty quickly by the predatory females – and all that is left is the dross and the dregs!! In my experience, anyway. Very sad. But I’m still prepared to be proved wrong!! Lorna
This advice is working for me. I have taken up golf, resumed target shooting (SASS), gone fishing & for boat rides on the river… having a great deal of fun. And oh, I’m almost 70…
Well, yes, Nina, you may be having a lot of fun – on your own!! And that is good, but not quite the same as having fun with a soulmate – unless you’re doing all those things with different men – you don’t say. I am almost 70, too, but I have found that for the last 8 and a half years since I have been on my own, even though I have done lots and lots of “fun” things on my own – and with lots of other men involved – I have yet to meet my mate. All the men I come across are either married or tragically flawed in some way and destined to be permanent bachelors. It seems to me that if the single ones don’t get snapped up immediately by all the women out there desperately looking and “on the prowl” with their wish-lists, then there is a real reason why they are still single. And the reasons are many and varied. However, I wish you luck – and indeed, I wish myself luck – constantly – but I am beginning to think I will never meet anyone now at this late stage. It’s like looking for a needle in a haystack. I have found internet dating a complete dead loss and waste of my valuable time. It takes up endless hours and hours trawling through all those photos, reading their profiles and sending messages, most of which get ignored, and even when they do answer, it usually fizzles out. Even the ones who seem interested and after I give them my phone number, they rarely ring back. And the ones I eventually do get a date with are never “suitable” for all sorts of reasons – and I have tried to widen my horizons. And it is not because I look like the back end of a bus, I am petite, pretty, energetic and fun. It is a waste of the precious time I could use being out there enjoying myself instead of sitting glued to a computer screen. So I have to learn to be content with my own company – which is far more beneficial than going to bed alone crying my eyes out feeling sorry for myself and getting anxious about ending up on my own. I have decided that the only way forward is to join lots of “senior” activities and just enjoy everyone’s company – including my own. Lorna
I think you have brushed over the problem with older men…they don’t think they should put any effort into a woman….I can’t even get them to cross a bridge to meet me or they think a good first date is meeting at their place