Think of this date as a first step. Dating is a process and it takes time.
Sure, you’d like to find instant chemistry, mutual attraction, and common interests. That’s the ideal. But there are many other possible outcomes.
If you approach the situation with curiosity rather than rigid expectations, you’ll be less likely to be disappointed.
~ Sharon Romm, Dating After 50
Dating…the word itself can conjure, for some, feelings of fear, anxiety, dread and overwhelm. A quote by comedian Jerry Seinfeld states, “Dating is pressure and tension. What is a date, really, but a job interview that lasts all night?” Yet, given our penchant for connection, engaging with others can also incite excitement and hope. Regardless of our age, we may date for a number of different reasons, among them: romance; finding a marriage partner; sex; companionship; friendship.
There’s no disputing that dating after 40 (and through 100+) is very different than at 20 or 30. In our middle and later years, many of us have already had families and/or built careers, have a multitude of life experiences to draw from, greater self-awareness and clarity about the type of companionship we want (and don’t want). Since average life expectancy has increased, we are all in the process of creating a new story for the next phase(s) of our lives, often with an eye toward greater self-fulfillment and simultaneous social consciousness/giving back. With the pace of life in these times, the growing divorce rate and the number of people who are single (whether by choice or circumstance, whether with children or not), dating is a great way to meet others.
If you want to begin to date, but are having difficulty motivating, consider the following words from Mama Gena’s Womanly Arts website (www.mamagenas.com): “While the law of attraction is true, true, true, it is not the whole story. The whole story is that you have to love wherever you are, whatever it looks like, right now, to even begin to attract anything. Additionally, it is really important to demonstrate your willingness to go for your desire by getting up off your butt, and taking deliberate baby steps in the direction of your desires.”
Yet, a major fear of many women (and men) over 40 is that, in our youth-centric culture, we will no longer be attractive enough to others. That false stereotype masks the more complex and nuanced reality of attraction, making it too easy to undermine ourselves and refrain from acting on our dating desires.
In my upcoming book, The Ageless Way, I quote Elisabeth Kübler-Ross when discussing what Ageless Beauty truly is (rather than “youthenizing” those over 40). She asserts, “The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.” How different an approach we might take to dating when we acknowledge this truth…
Though it seems obvious, we often get lost in trying to “attract” someone (friend or lover) and forget that when we are seeking to relate with those who will truly love us we must actually share who we truly are. As Henry Cloud suggests in How to Get a Date Worth Keeping, “Dating is about finding out who you are and who others are. If you show up in a masquerade outfit, neither is going to happen.”
Learning more about someone through dating is not just for those who are single.
Many married couples and committed partners make it a priority to have “date nights,” considering it vital for their relationship to focus on each other away from life’s distractions. Though that time can be used to simply catch up, it may also help nurture romance. Articles such as the National Association of Baby Boomer Women’s “Day Trips and Hotel Sex” by Dr. Dorree Lynn, Ph.D. (http://nabbw.com/expert-columns/love-sex-and-dating/boomer-women-sexuality/day-trips-hotel-sex) talk about the advantages of such dating. Lynn shares her belief in the benefits of taking a trip together and enjoying time for “unadulterated intimacy.”
There are many ways to meet people, including newspaper ads, matchmakers, friends, events and classes. We live in a society and time of “high tech, low touch,” so it’s vital to meet others and find ways to connect and create community. Ironically, however, it is very often the online world which offers a fast, efficient way to meet others. In addition to well-known general websites for all ages, such as match.com, eharmony.com, and okcupid.com, there are others for nearly every grouping, including ones by hobbies/interests, religion/spirituality, sexual/gender preference or ethnicity. Sites for people specifically seeking to meet other Boomers and those over 40, include: babyboomerdates.com; over40andsingle.com; ourtime.com; vibrantnation.com/family-relationships/7-free-online-dating-sites-for-people-over-50-and-single; and, many more.
For anyone who is resisting dating, who believes in the stereotypes about the scarcity of potential partners for those over 40, I have a brief, but true, story for you.
My husband’s childhood best friend had suffered through more than one mismatched marriage, and a heart attack, and felt that his chance at finding a loving companion was over. However, he ultimately went online, hesitantly stepping into the dating scene again, and met a woman who he feels is the true love of his life. Though they wish they’d met 20 years ago, they are focusing on moving in together, creating a home in a new location. With the wisdom of experience that can only come with many years of living, they look at life as just moments, which they will keep pursuing and creating together.
Are you seeking some kind of courtship or friendship? I am curious to hear about your Ageless Dating experiences…
Where have you met friends or romantic partners since the time you turned 40? What has made your 40+ dates fun or cringe-worthy?
Image Credit: (“Roseate Spoonbill Courtship Dance” by USFWS Headquarters, everystockphoto.com)