If you’re over 40 and you’ve tried the dating waters, you know they can be treacherous with rough currents and full of sharks. The problem with dating at a certain age, is that unlike dating younger, you’re generally not coming to it with a fresh view. You’ve likely been dumped, dissed, divorced, dogged, disappointed or all of the above. And now that people interact with their devices more than each other and in the midst of the #MeToo movement, things are more confusing than ever. Here’s what you need to know to date while grown.
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Do the world a favor. Heal yourself of the trauma of your previous relationships before you attempt to start a new one. Yes, a compassionate partner can make a world of difference if you have been hurt, but if you’re still traumatized and angry and bitter, it will be hard to find one. There are a lot of wounded warriors in the dating game, and most people are trying to stay on top of their own issues, never mind yours. And don’t forget that dating while grown generally comes with more life complications. People are dealing with aging parents, troubled children, hectic jobs and financial struggles. No one expects anyone to be without baggage, but if you don’t deal with yours in a proactive way – therapy helps – then you will either find yourself running people away or you’ll be in yet another failed relationship.
KEEP YOURSELF UP
Let’s be honest. Not too many of us look the same as we did in our 20’s. But some of us look years older, because life – family, responsibilities, etc., have gotten in the way of our self-care. It’s hard enough to date but when you don’t feel good about yourself, that makes it even harder. If you’re carrying 40 plus pounds you don’t need, you may find yourself being assessed on whether or not the risk of significant health issues down the line is worth the risk. If you haven’t dated since the first Bush was president, you may be out of style as well. Ask your kids (or grandkids) to help you upgrade your look. (If your kids have been dying to do this before you even ask, chances are you need to take them up on it.)
By the time you get to your 40’s, you know who you are – or should. If you are someone who enjoys fine foods and wine, chances are you’re not going to be happy with a guy who thinks a fine food meal is a chain restaurant. If you’re a man who likes to collect passport stamps and you meet a woman who’s a homebody who barely wants to leave the house, much less the state, you’re not going to be happy with her as a romantic partner. There are exceptions to every rule of course, but by the time you get to your 40’s, you’re not going to be successful in a relationship that forces you to compromise things that are truly important to you.
The dating game has moved online. Most people are meeting folks online, from Tinder to Match.com. Each online site has its pluses and minuses and you can meet someone on any site, but some are better for serious relationships while others are more for hooking up. There are also sites like Christiansingles.com for those who profess Christianity and Ourtime.com for singles 50 and up. There are other online options as well, via affinity groups on Facebook which focus on singles of various ages, those who share hobbies like travel or those who appreciate men with beards. Unfortunately, a lot of the specific to singles groups descend into petty bickering but there are others dedicated to travel and other interests where members focus on the interest, not the drama.
TAKE YOUR TIME
Don’t date to get married and don’t date with expectation of anything but a great night out. If you don’t, you’ll go on a few dates and when true love doesn’t happen, you’ll want to quit. Dating takes time, patience, intention and fortitude. If you don’t have those qualities, you’ll be frustrated in dating and ultimately, it won’t work out for you. Also, and especially for women, don’t stop dating multiple people because you have a good vibe with one. If you don’t both come to a mutual decision that you’re a couple and its time to delete your dating apps, then you’re still single. If you are a single woman, there’s nothing wrong with dating multiple men. I said dating, not sleeping with – but that’s up to you and your personal morals. Learn to date without expectation and you’ll have a better experience.
DO YOUR VETTING
I cannot say this enough, especially for women, but definitely for men as well. Don’t get too familiar and too caught up in someone until you get to know them. You might think grown folks would have their lives together, but there are plenty of grown folks dragging years of toxic baggage behind them that you might not see when you first meet them. You may think he/she is The One, but if you haven’t had good love since Tupac was alive, wait until you see if their representative adds up to the actual person. I can’t say enough to women to be smart because some men are dangerous and will prey on your vulnerability. That goes for men as well, but women, even over 40, are still more at risk when they don’t use their street smarts.
DON’T SETTLE…BUT DON’T BE UNREALISTIC
If you are over 40, unless you’re a celebrity, you may find it a challenge to find someone who is tall, handsome, wealthy, as smart as Barack Obama and as adventurous as Will Smith, especially if you can’t match all of those qualities. Men, well, you may have a little more leeway, quite honestly, but if you’re trying to pull a dime and your stomach is bigger than a woman who’s in her second trimester, it might be more of a challenge than you think. The truth is, pickings are a little slimmer at this age and you have to work if you want someone who’s checking off everything on your list. No one says you should settle but if you want it all, you better be willing to #LevelUp yourself.
FIND YOUR HAPPY WHILE YOU’RE SINGLE
Are you miserable single and desperately want a relationship? Then you are poor relationship material. Every relationship ends. Whether it ends it breakup or death, it ends. If you are totally dependent on another person for your happiness, you are making that person you co-dependent, not your man or woman. Relationships that look good from the outside (see: social media) are often not great relationships on the inside. Work to be more emotionally self-sufficient and you’re likely to attract someone who is as well and then the two of you can come together to enhance either other, not drain each other.
KNOW IF YOU WANT TO MARRY….OR REMARRY
Do you really want to be married? If you’re already been married and it didn’t work out, was part of the problem not the person, but marriage itself? Are you really happy being single but don’t want to be alone? Do you just not believe in marriage? Consider all of these things before you decide whether or not you want to bring someone else into the picture. If you are honest, you might find someone who wants the same thing, but if you lie to yourself or someone else, one or both of you is going to end up miserable.
DON’T GIVE UP
If you want a good relationship, don’t give up. Keep working on yourself. Change your intention, wig, attitude, mindset, and expectation. Find something that makes you feel good and pursue it. Happiness is attractive. Work to love yourself – it’s more than just a cliché. It should be your way of being. If you want love, don’t give up on it. It’s waiting for you, but only if you believe it’s possible.
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