It’s no secret that dating in your 40s and 50s is a far cry from dating as a young adult or twenty-something. While there is a relatively significant difference between the experience of dating at 40 verses 50, the commonalities that link the two are unavoidable.
#1: KNOW WHAT YOU WANT
Which brings us to tip number one, know what you want. The online search results for daters in mid-life are the same as other demographics. They can range from those seeking serious relationships or marriage, in person friends, one night stands, casual dating, or more. Whichever type of dating partnership you’re interested in, the key is, to be honest, and able to articulate what and why that is what you’re looking for. Avoid giving or accepting mixed signals.
Different relationship goals are sometimes unspoken, until time has passed, and can leave both parties upset about lost time spent communicating or on dates. Not sure what you’re looking for? Take some time to ponder about it or write out a list (you don’t have to show it to anyone else). While it’s impossible to guarantee compatibility in advance, being upfront with yourself and others can minimize frustration and help you find what you’re looking for.
#2: PERFECT YOUR PROFILE
Perhaps you met your last great date at a cafe or nightclub. However, if you’re like most daters, online dating has played anywhere from a minimal to a significant role in the frequency and quality of your dates. “Perfect” may be overstating it, but putting time and effort into a profile that represents your personality and interests is an attainable goal. As with Tip #1, tell people what you’re looking for on your profile. Your right match will relate and be glad you did.
Stick with hobbies you’ve done in the last year or are confident you’ll be doing shortly- even if it’s only as simple as book reading, the occasional hike, or going to the movies. Maybe you traveled extensively twenty years ago, but if you haven’t done so recently and your lifestyle doesn’t facilitate that, acting as if you jet off every weekend will not find you your perfect match. Pressed for information on your dates painting a false image of who you are will only become awkward. That does not mean you have to sound limited or boring, talk from your heart and describe what makes you happy and brings you joy. Answer the dating site’s profile questions with enthusiasm. A few sentences are usually enough for people to get a general idea.
#3: PHOTOS STILL MATTER
Even at 40 and 50, photos matter for compatibility. Upload several photos of yourself. Don’t worry if you have been skipping the gym lately; the goal isn’t to look like a magazine model. Instead, it is to showcase you as you are. The best is to combine a more poised photograph of yourself, along with some day to day photos- such as one or two of yourself at a fun event, in an ‘action’ shot, or doing a favorite activity.
One picture is not enough. Two isn’t great either. Consider adding 3 or more, preferably more! After the success of Tinder and Instagram, dating apps and sites are becoming more and more photo driven. Physical attraction is often the “yes” vote for would-be-daters to connect with another.
#4: IT’S NOT ALL ABOUT THE LOOKS
By the time a dater reaches 40+, they’ve often had several failed relationships under their belt, possibly even a separation or divorce. While the person with the best smile and abs might be a draw at 20, older daters are aware that it takes substance for a relationship to be successful. Yes, as explained in Tip # 3- attraction still matters, but it is not the end of the story.
Mature daters affirm that charm will only get one so far. Often intelligence, humor, wit, shared interests, or shared beliefs can strengthen and enhance even a tepid physical attraction. DO date people you find attractive. However, don’t write people off instantaneously over an uncertain physical attraction. If they have all the other qualities you’re looking for- loyalty, life goals, interests, passions, or career- consider going on a date or two before deciding!
#5: GO EASY ON YOURSELF
Remember the movie “100 First Dates” with Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore? While the plot of that film is unrelated, don’t expect to find a match right away. Maybe you will go on 20 first dates before you connect with Mr. or Mrs. Right (or, depending on your dating goals, Mr. or Mrs. Right Now). Or, it could be ten dates, or 2, or (yes!) even 100! While it can feel daunting to be disappointed and frustrated after you invest in dates that don’t work out, it’s worse to sell yourself short and end up with an incompatible match!
Most daters upward of 40 have learned that they are looking for quality. Still, it can be hard on the ego if you find yourself being ‘shot down,’ rejected. Other times it is equally as frustrating to be the one doing the rejecting. Either way, do not give up. Look at each new person you meet for a date as a learning experience and good dating “practice” for your ideal match, who will keep you coming back again and again.
While dating in one’s 40’s and 50’s can take some adjustment after failed relationships or divorce, it can also be an occasion of great excitement, self-awareness, and growth. The world can be your oyster if you keep in mind that now is your chance to try at love again and create the tomorrow you’ve always wanted!