Dating in your 40s is a real experience. I have read a number of books and articles on the subject. I have done the online dating thing. I have done the being set up by friends. I have done the stop looking so hard and it’ll find you. I have done the go after what you want. I have really done it all.
So I have combined all the dating advice I have heard or read about in the last 6 years. I won’t need to write a book to tell you what I have learned. Are you ready for this ground breaking, earth shattering revelation to unfold before your eyes??? Are you ready for the light to be shed on dating in your 40s, 30s, 20s or even 50s for that matter (I think you get the point here)
(drum roll please)
Open up your mind and trust your instincts.
(insert ahhhhs and ohhhhs here). No nothing? Silence? Want a little more meat on that statement?
Dating when you are older is really no different than dating when you are younger. You know those butterflies you got when you were in Junior or Senior High when that cute boy walked by and smiled at you?? Ya, those still exist.
Remember when your friends would tease you that so and so liked you? Yah, that still happens too!
Remember the sleep overs where you would talk about the way a boy made you feel funny in places? Yup, you guessed it. Still happens when you’re over 40.
A gf of mine has decided she is ready to try online dating. Ok, this is definitely an area that is different than when I was younger. And she told me that she will be looking to me for advice on this. I did mention that she should probably read my blog on how I failed online dating. But she insists that I know more about this than her. And like a foolish girl, she trusts me on this subject! So here is my expertise on the subject. And by expertise I mean, here is the way I muddled through.
1. Treat online dating like walking into a room full of people
Lets say a that room has 100 people in it. The first thing you are going to notice is everyone’s appearance. Some will look like they are overdressed for this room. Others will look like they don’t own a mirror! Then there are the ones that don’t even put up a picture.
WARNING WARNING – not all of them but its been my experience, if they don’t have a picture. Stay away. The married ones never do put a picture up. I am not saying ALL of the ones without a picture are married, just been my experience.
Ok… back to the room. You wander in. You look around. A couple people smile at you. Some look you up and down like they will devour you like they have never eaten before. Some will turn their noses up at you. Some will ignore you. The point is not everyone will like you. You will not like everyone. You may even talk to someone and they will not respond back. DO NOT TAKE THIS PERSONALLY. They are also walking into a room of a 100 people with a certain criteria in mind. And quite honestly, they are doing you a favor not replying back. The “small talk” online is just wasting your time. I know that sounds harsh, but it is what it is. And this brings me to my next point…
2. Know what you want before you start dating
This sounds really silly. But trust me on this. I can hear you now saying ‘but I don’t know what I want. I just want to see what’s out there”. That is the equivilant of opening up your fridge, tasting something, putting it back, tasting something else, putting it back…. Etc. Sure you’re gonna get full, but are you satisified? And if you really dig a little deeper into yourself, you will come up with what you don’t want! Turn that thinking around. If you know what you DON’T want, chances are you have a pretty good idea on what you DO want. I strongly suggest you get out a pen and paper. If you know what you are looking for, GREAT. If you don’t start with what you don’t want then fine tune it into what you do want. Here’s is an example…
Don’t Want: Want:
I don’t want someone who is a player I want someone who will be monogamous.
From here you can fine tune it even more once you get going. One thing for me was that I was ok dating someone with kids. Then I dated a couple guys with kids… young kids. Ok, that was NOT for me. I have teenagers. So I had to fine tune that statement. I would date guys with kids my kid’s ages or over. I was not prepared to go backwards in time with this particular area in my life. I didn’t want to do the whole babysitter thing again. So that was a make or break item for me. Your’s will be your own. That is the next step after making up your want list. After you start dating you may discover that something you were super passionate about really is not something you really need at all. Or it may work the other way around. Something you thought wouldn’t bother you, bugs the hell out of you. My point on this wish list; keep it a fluid list. Don’t be so rigid in your wants that you pass up on that hot number making eyes at you at the bar. But don’t be so wishy washy in your list that you date anything that moves. You need to find YOUR balance. And for godsakes, don’t be embarrassed or sorry for your wants or don’t wants. This is YOUR life. You want someone in it that compliments you!
3. Don’t say yes to every Tom, Dick or Harry that asks you out
Dating can be a dangerous head game. When you first get on the site or start dating, you might get tons of messages! It can be a very large ego boost. After a while, you will get less. That can crush your ego. You don’t have to take my word for it, ask around. I for one, have been online and offline so many times over the last 3 years, it might make your head spin. I get on there with the best of intentions only to become disillusioned a week later. I start questioning myself based on the type of guys pushing that wink button I hate so much. I get guys sending me messages that look like they are using their mug shots as profile pictures. Do I really attract these types of men?? Cause ewwwwww! I am EXTREMELY selective on who I will meet up with in real life. And I am not selective only because I don’t want to end up a headliner on the news that night, but because I respect myself enough and know myself well enough, that I have a really good idea of what I am looking for. I ask questions before I take the time to drive to some Tim Horton’s to be interviewed (can you see that I LOVE the coffee dates?? Ugh). If I said yes to every person that asked me out on a date, well let’s just say I would be doing nothing else. So be selective.
4. Make your own rules for dating
My one girlfriend using a rule of only 20 minutes a day of online dating time allowed. I used the Wednesday/Sunday rule. I would only check my messages on those days. That’s only the beginning! What happens when you meet someone?? What happens if you click?? What happens if you don’t? What happens if the hottie across the bar IS Mr. Right? What if the delivery driver that drops off packages at your office is? I have another friend that won’t date truckers. If you drive a truck, she won’t date you. For me, that is too narrow minded. Maybe he is a trucker that has spent his whole life in a business suit doing the daily grind only to realize he is unhappy doing so. You don’t know if that truck driver is your match if your rules are too strict. That is the open your mind part. What works for me, may not necessarily work for you. My rules are based on what I hope to get out of dating. I want a relationship. That I know. I want someone in my life that will compliment me. Not complete me. I want to know that when he is thinking about me, he has the confidence to send me a message telling me just how damn sexy I am in his mind right now (oh yes please, make me blush!). My point is, those are MY rules. You need to make your own rules. And they may change as you get going. The only rule that isn’t mine, is my oldest daughter’s rule for me on age. I am not allowed to date someone she could potentially date. So no one under 36 years of age. (Side note on this rule. I am COMPETELY fine with this rule. But I like giving her a hard time about it so I always suggest that maybe a younger man would be better suited to my energy level. She just looks at me in disgust and tells me there are certain things she does NOT need to know!)
The rules don’t stop at who you will and won’t date. There are so many rules to consider. How many dates till you kiss him/hold his hand/sleep with him. How many dates/weeks/months till you introduce him to your kids/family/friends? How far into the relationship till you allow yourself to feel all the wonderful feelings and actually share those with him? The ever dreaded “I won’t be the first to admit I care for him, he needs to say it first”. Why?? So you don’t get hurt? Trust me, it hurts a lot more standing on the sidelines watching him walk away cause you were too stupid to say anything.
Dating is very exciting and thrilling. It is also very daunting and scary. You are putting yourself out there after quite possibly having your heart broken into a million tiny little pieces. The games that some play are horrible. The lies that some will tell you to get what they want is mind boggling. It really is like being in Junior or Senior high again. And there is nothing wrong with that. So read all the books you want. Do all the research you want on this subject. Through all this dating I have done, I have received enough advice to write a freakin book. But the biggest and most important rule that I have for myself is this…
Open up your mind and trust your instincts.
It’s worked for me. After a number of years playing the dating game, I’ve found an amazing man. But that’s another blog…