40 Ways Dating Gets Easier After 40
Say goodbye to Netflix and chill, say hello to a nice Bordeaux.
If you find yourself single again or still dating over 40, you're far from alone. In fact, it's the first time since 1976 that more adults in the U.S. are single than married, meaning there's never been a better time to be on the dating scene.
"For many years," says Tina B. Tessina, PhD, (aka "Dr. Romance") psychotherapist and author of Dr. Romance's Guide to Finding Love Today, "dating was something done by young people…and the expectation was that they would find partners and settle down before too long." But times are changing. "For more and more individuals," she elaborates, "the dating phase has been extended into adulthood, through middle age and even into senior years."
However, despite its prevalence, much about dating in later life is shrouded in myth, mystery, and fear. And while some aspects of dating do get more difficult with age, there are countless others that get easier. With that in mind, we've compiled a list of the most compelling reasons why dating after forty is smooth sailing compared to the choppy waters of youth.
You Know What You Want
While at 20, you may have been eager to try different types of relationships on for size, by 40, you've likely got a relationship wish list in mind, and aren't afraid to ask for those non-negotiable items. "When a person starts dating after 40," says Patrick Kenger, founder of Pivot, an image consultancy for men, "they have a better idea of what they want."
With experience in hand, they are able to separate what's really important to those things you can live without. "This really streamlines the whole process," he explains.
You've Dealt With Your Insecurities
"The great part about dating in your 40s," says Dr. Carissa Coulston, a clinical psychologist and author of The Eternity Rose blog, "is that some of the insecurities you may have had in your 20s are hopefully long gone." At the very least, she says "you are more familiar with them." Instead of letting that negative voice in your head get in the way of making a connection with someone, you can be yourself from the get-go.
You Have A Higher Standard Of Living
By the time you hit 40, not only does your bank account likely make it possible to put those dates where cheap beer was a splurge behind you, you also have more discerning tastes than you did as a young adult. After 40, says Spike Spencer, author of FoodGame: A MAN's Ultimate Recipe For Dating Success, and founder of the Don't Kill Your Date (and Other Cooking Tips) website, "it's no longer ramen and Netflix." Instead, he says, "it's honey braised lamb shanks, sautéed asparagus, charred Mexican street style corn paired with a fine Sonoma Cabernet….and Netflix."
It's Easier To Meet Higher Quality People
At forty, says Spencer, "you have deeper friendships and connections that make it easier to meet quality people." Instead of choosing from a random pool of singles, your various networks enable you to locate a partner who will share your values, goals, and expectations. As such, your dates will have a much higher chance of success than those started with a swipe.
You're More Likely To Share Relationship Goals
While it may seem like there are fewer singles to choose from at forty, the likelihood you'll meet someone who shares a similar vision for the future is higher. "Most individuals that are single around middle age are looking to commit to a longer term partner, and so it's more likely that the dater's relationship goals will be aligned," says Kenger.
You're More Relaxed In Bed
While you may have a few more aches and pains to contend with than you did at 20, if your date ends up concluding in the bedroom, the sex is "way better," says Spencer. "You are far more relaxed about the whole situation and have had some practice, which gives you more confidence on your end."
You Know What You Want In Bed
In addition to being more relaxed in the bedroom, "you know what you want…and what gets the job done," says Spencer. Perhaps even more importantly, he explains, "you know how to ask for it."
More Stability In Life Allows You To Put More Focus On Dating
While you may not have had a stable income, living situation, or healthy relationship precedents to build off of at 20, by 40, you've got a fair amount of your life figured out, making it easier to figure out your romantic life, as well. "After 40, there is a sense of being settled into life, established in a career, with good income, and a stable home," says Katie Ziskind, licensed family therapist and owner of Wisdom Within Counseling, With these pieces in place, she explains, a person is able to "put more energy into dating," making it more rewarding for both parties involved.
Kids Are Out Of The Way
For many people dating over 40, those questions about if and when kids will come along simply don't come up. "Dating after 40 can be easier," says Ziskind, "because adults have passed the age and urge of having children." While this may have been a deciding factor in an earlier relationship, you can now focus on whether your date is right for you and you alone.
You Can Better Handle Your Feelings
Whether you're still healing from the scars inflicted by past relationships or feel anxious about the fact that you're still single, there's no denying that dating can bring up some unpleasant feelings. Fortunately, says Dr. Coulston, dating in your 40s means "you are more familiar with [these feelings] and have become accustomed to manag[ing] them."
You Have Less Long-Term Stress
Dating is easier after 40, says Dr. Coulston, because "your priorities have changed with age, and you are not hung-up about finding the perfect parent of your children to-be." Instead of trying to forecast how a potential partner will look or act years down the line, you can simply focus on how they make you feel now—a much less difficult question to answer.
You Know That Personality Is Key
While personality is typically a factor in relationship satisfaction at any age, after 40, it starts to take serious precedence over your potential partner's appearance. With age, says Dr. Coulston, you often gain the "knowledge that being 'hot' is more a function of someone's personality rather than their actual exterior." This means it's much less likely that you'll find yourself realizing you've wasted time sticking with an incompatible partner simply due to their appearance, as may have been the case a decade or two earlier.
You Have Better Stories
One of the hardest things about dating can be finding something to talk about, and those cheesy icebreakers lose their charm once you've heard them a few dozen times. Fortunately, with your 40-plus years of life experience behind you, it's more than likely you'll have a few entertaining stories to regale your date with.
You Can Trust Your Instincts
Sometimes, you can go on a date and know immediately whether or not it's a match. While, at an earlier age, it may have been wise to ignore these instincts in the name of exploration, you've reached a point at which you can trust that those butterflies in your stomach—or the distinctly creepy vibe you get from a date—are worth paying attention to.
You Know What Speed To Go
In your teens, 20s, or even 30s, people all-too-frequently misjudge the speed at which a relationship should be going. While one partner likes to rush things, the other may prefer taking it slow. With age, however, one generally gains an idea from past experience as to how a relationship organically grows from the first date onward. It's much less likely, then, that you'll find yourself rushed into something you're not ready for or find the relationship dragging without feeling that you can speak up about your wants and needs.
You're Done Playing Games
Not calling him back for a week to build mystery? Only asking her out at the last minute to make yourself seem unavailable? While younger people often play games in relationships, keeping one another on their emotional toes, by the time you hit 40, that act is beyond tired. Now that you're older and (hopefully) wiser, these games can be left by the wayside—replaced by honest communication and an ongoing dialogue about what you want.
You Can Put Things In Context
When someone is dumped by their first girlfriend or boyfriend, it can feel like the end of the world. This feeling generally persists until, with age and experience, daters gain a bit more perspective about the nature of relationships in general. Eventually, dating—and the inevitable loss of some of those relationships—become mere facts of life, not all-encompassing personal issues.
Dating Profiles Are More Informative
When you're younger, creating a dating profile can be a tricky thing—you may be eager to put forward the person you think potential matches will want to date rather than accurately describing yourself. After 40, however, you're much more self-assured, and can fill in a profile with things about you that are undoubtedly true. This makes it much more likely that any date started with a swipe or click can turn into a lasting relationship in the long run.
You Don't Need To Compete With Ambition
Dating in your 20s and 30s can be difficult because people are balancing their relationship needs with their careers and dreams. This means you're not just competing for someone's attention with other singles, but with their job, as well. After 40, however, your career path is much sturdier, making it easier to find time—and headspace—for a romantic partner.
You Have Less Baggage
One of the trickiest parts of dating is dealing with the baggage that you and your partner bring into the relationship from the get-go. Hurt people, as the saying goes, hurt people. While you may have more past experiences that affect how you tackle a relationship after 40, you also know how to keep those memories and scars from standing in the way of your future happiness.
You'll Find More Meaningful Love
Not only does dating become easier after 40, but its rewards grow, too. The fact is, while young love is nice, there's nothing quite like the love that you can find in middle age, when you can truly appreciate how lucky you are to have found someone and nurture your relationship without harboring the unrealistic expectations you may have had a decade or two earlier.
You Prioritize Companionship
Dating after 40 means cutting out all the nonsense and focusing on what's important in a relationship: companionship. This makes it much easier to suss out who's a good fit and who isn't, as you're not blinded by erroneous concerns, like the way they decide to wear their hair.
You Can Talk About The Hard Stuff
Dating can often involve hard conversations. While, when you're young, it can be hard to know how to react to a harrowing story about a past relationship or other baggage you weren't expecting from a potential partner, with age and experience, you become much more able to discuss sensitive topics. This makes it less likely that either partner will be left out in the cold, as productive dialogue can be had even in the toughest of times.
You Don't Let The Small Things Get To You
Young people often break up with each other for reasons that seem ridiculous to your average adult. After 40, however, you become much better able to discern what should actually be a deal breaker and what should simply be ignored.
You Have More Realistic Expectations
When you're younger, you may often find yourself wondering—even while on a date—whether or not there are other, better, fish in the sea. After hitting forty, however, you're pretty well aware of what's out there in the dating world. Instead of comparing a date to an imaginary pool of singles that you could be with instead, you're more inclined to appreciate and value the person you're with than wonder if something better could come along.
You're Ready For Commitment—Or Not
At 20, it's often difficult to decide if you're ready for a commitment or if you're better off staying single, making dating undeniably more difficult. By the time you hit 40, however, you have pretty good idea of whether or not you're looking to settle down—and know how to communicate that to your date. This means you can start a new relationship with your goals and desires out in the open, rather than dancing around what you really want in the long run.
You Know Your Body
Your body, in many ways, defines who you are. Being well acquainted with it allows you to communicate to your date the kinds of things it needs and wants. Not only does this make things easier (and more fun) in the bedroom, it helps avoid, for example, a night owl trying to date an earlier riser, or a casual drinker hooking up with a recovering substance abuser.
You're More Confident
Whether you've finally figured out a style that works for you, or recently secured that job title you're proud to flaunt, you generally become more confident as you reach middle age. In fact, according to a study published in Psychology and Aging, women's confidence tends to peak after 40. This benefits dating in many ways—not only does this make you more attractive to potential partners, it means you're not afraid to speak your mind when it comes to getting the things you want.
You Know You Don't Need To Settle
If you're still single in your forties, you know that not having a spouse isn't the end of the world. This knowledge certainly comes in handy when you're tempted to settle for a subpar relationship simply to avoid being alone.
You Know Love Isn't Easy
Younger people often think that love is a self-sustaining entity which, once found, simply remains. After turning forty, however, you gain the knowledge that love actually requires work—and lots of it. This makes it much less likely a good relationship will flounder due to neglect, as each of you understands what is required and expected from a satisfactory partner.
You Know What A Real Date Is
Ever think you were going on a date only to end up eating ramen and drinking boxed wine in someone's barely-furnished living room? After 40, most people know what a real date looks like, so you can quickly extract yourself from what you're sure is going to be a bad night.
You Don't Take Connections For Granted
When you're younger, with your whole life ahead of you, you may have a tendency to take the connections you make with people for granted. As you get older, however, you begin to understand just how rare and special it is to make a connection with someone—making it more likely you'll hold onto them and prioritize their attention accordingly.
Your Home Is Presentable
In your 20s and 30s, your bachelor pad may have been a complete mess—after all, there was no one there to tell you that living like a slob isn't a good look. After 40, however, your space—be it a bachelor pad or not—should resemble a functional adult home. Bringing someone back after a date becomes much easier when you're sure they won't be horrified by what they see.
You Have Good Friends To Consult
By the time you hit 40, your friend group should consist solely of people you trust and whose company you enjoy. That makes it much easier to get good advice regarding your relationships, because not only have these friends known you for a while, you also know that what they're telling you about that not-so-great-sounding date is coming from a good place.
You Don't Have To Deal With Parents
When you're younger, your parents may have had a say on who you dated, making it harder to find a partner you liked, not just one who met their qualifications. Now that you're over forty, however, you no longer need to defer to your elders, and can follow your own heart in navigating the dating scene.
You're More Mature
Maturity is crucial in relationships for so many reasons—it allows you to deal with your partner in ways that are kind, understanding, and empathetic. In your 40s, this maturity means you're less reactive and impatient when times are bad, and more likely to appreciate them when they're good.
You Don't Want To Waste Time
There's a sense of urgency in dating past forty that isn't there when you're younger. And fortunately, for those seeking commitment, there's no stigma about addressing that fact from the get-go, whereas a Tinder profile that screams "marriage" at 20 might not have the same positive reception.
You Know The Right Questions
When speaking to someone new, there's small talk and then there are the important conversations that allow you to learn crucial information about them. As you gain more experience, you realize that it's not all listing siblings and family pets that helps you get to know another person, and you aren't afraid to ask your dates about their hopes, dreams, past, and future plans.
You've Learned From Past Mistakes
Everyone makes mistakes. The joy of getting older is being able to learn from them and do better the second time around. Luckily, for those dating over 40, you likely have enough insight into what went wrong in your past relationships to know better and stop those destructive patterns before they start.
You're Upfront About Your "Flaws"
While young people often try to hide the more unsavory aspects of themselves, only revealing them to a partner after many months of dating—now that you're more comfortable in your skin, you can come out with your so-called flaws blazing. Not only is doing so more honest, it will also help avoid any nasty surprises for either of you down the line.
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