Dating in your 40s is different from when you were wild and adventurous in your 20’s.
If you find yourself on the market in your 40s, you know how daunting it can feel. Long gone are the days of countless single friends, countless single bars, and endless time on your hands. And besides, you may feel a bit rusty—even nervous! — as you jump back into the game after a long absence.
But listen up: Being much older, you are wiser, financially stable and probably considering serious arrangements that will lead to marriage.
At this age, playing games when it comes to matters of the heart is no longer the tune you dance to.
You want to get it right, especially if you’re coming from a failed relationship or marriage.
And if children are involved, dating gets complicated even more. You have to factor in whether the partner you will get will be comfortable being a step-parent or not and whether they will be able to accommodate your ex with whom you are co-parenting with.
What if you don’t have any children but your new partner comes with children? Don’t worry! Looking for love in your fifth decade isn’t nearly as difficult as you may imagine.
Here are some useful dating tips worth looking into if you are considering getting into a relationship at this stage in life:
1. Children matter
Whether or not you have children will definitely have an effect on your dating. If you meet a person who has kids, he or she may not want to have more, yet you may want to have children.
These differing opinions may throw a hammer in the works and might even render the two of you incompatible. If your ex is also constantly in the picture, this may not sit well with your potential partner.
There is also the issue of raising young kids, and then there are the finances involved.
2. Wait before introducing your partner to your kids
If you’re a parent, anyone you date is getting a package deal, and it’s crucial to prioritize your kids’ emotional needs over your desire to find romantic love.
“Children need time to adjust to their parents’ split, and it can take at least two years for them to get over anger, sadness, and other emotions,” Dr. Mclee Tembo notes. “Introducing a new love interest too soon may delay or damage this process. You owe it to your kids to take it slow when dating”.
If you’ve been dating someone for at least four to five months and feel confident that you’re heading toward a serious commitment, the time may be right to talk to your children. Tell them what you admire about your new partner, and encourage them to share both negative and positive feelings about the idea of your being with someone new.
Actively listen and validate their feelings before planning a joint outing so everyone can meet. They may be cool to your new partner at first; just let them come around on their own time and keep communicating.
If the relationship is still gelling, have fun dating when your kids are with their other parent or family members. “If you introduce your children to someone who you are dating casually, this may create uncertainty and ambivalence for them about intimacy if things don’t work out,” Dr. Mclee Tembo warns.
3. Manage your expectations
It is very different for men and women looking for a partner in their 40’s. The playing ground is not leveled and, to be honest, the younger have more options. And then there is gender.
A man in his 40s is more mature and in a much better position financially. This makes him more attractive to women in their late 20’s and 30’s looking to settle down. And should he want more children, he may even go for a younger woman.
On the other hand, women will find it difficult to pair up because she may already have children and could be already leaving the safe pregnancy window. Should a man want more children, she may not be able to fulfil his desire.
4. Never apologize for being you
By the time we hit 40, we’ve had our fair share of trial and errors, but this needn’t be considered “baggage.” If a past folly comes up on a date, focus on the growth and learning that came out of it, instead of beating yourself up.
“Women, in particular, apologize for what they perceive are their shortcomings or discount themselves,” Dr. Mclee Tembo explains. “You have lived a full life, no need for apologies. Own your mistakes and talk about them as life lessons.”
Your date will appreciate it when you listen to their mistakes without judgment or unsolicited advice. “People want to be seen, validated, and accepted—flaws and all!” Dr. Mclee Tembo reassures.
5. Stay away from dating apps
Unless you want to have one-night stands and short-lived flings that never go anywhere, avoid dating apps like a plague.
Most people in these apps are out to have fun and rarely will you find genuine connections unless you pay for match making sites and hope that they work in your favor.
6. Leave your dirty laundry out
The fastest way to suck the energy out of a date is by advertising your problems. This makes your life look chaotic and unstable.
Leave your baby mama drama and how you were cheated on. No matter how minor it may be, like a bad boss or how your landlord is giving you hell, your potential new partner doesn’t need to hear all that on the first date.
Give priority to getting to know each other first, then open up gradually. Let it flow.
7. Reveal your expectations
To avoid wasting time and knowing whether the other person is looking for what you are, you may want to consider being open about your dating goals.
If they don’t like it, well. You have one less person to worry about.
At 40, your tolerance for nonsense is diminishing, so be clear about what you don’t like and what you’re interested in.