As a dating and relationship coach for women over 40, and a happily married gal who became a first-time bride at age 47, I know that meeting men in your 40s or 50s is nowhere near as easy as when you were 25.
I also know that relationships formed in your 40s, 50 and beyond are far more fulfilling that any you had in your earlier years. To find these great relationships you have to be a different dater than you were in your earlier years.
Here are 8 bits of advice that will set you up for successful "grownup" dating and ultimately lead you to that man who will be your loving partner in the second part of your life.
8 Tips for Dating After 40
1. Know and love yourself. When was the last time you looked at yourself without the lens of your wounded 18 year old, your ex's judgments or the nonsense the media feeds you? Take 20 minutes today and allow yourself to think about what makes you fantastic. Give yourself permission to brag. I bet you find quite a lovely woman hiding behind all the muck others have been feeding you.
2. Know what you want. Who is the person and what is the relationship that will make you happy as the woman you are today? If you are looking for a meaningful and lasting relationship, dump that list of superficial adjectives he "must" possess and the descriptions of activities you want to share. Instead, dig deeper. Consider how you want to feel when you are with him. This is what really matters when you want to spend the rest of your life with someone.
3. Accept that the responsibility is yours. You are a mature woman who most likely steers your own ship in all other areas of your life.That blame-the-men thing is old and no longer serves you. Start making good decisions and taking care of yourself by using your ability to weigh options, make complex decisions and exercise your assertiveness. You probably do this every day with your career, your family, even with the dry cleaner; dealing with single men should be no exception.
4. Live in the real world. Those 50 years old you're dating probably won't have a full head of hair, a great six-pack and no baggage. It's time to live in the real world – not the one you created when you were 18.
5. Take it slow. The boomer set tends to discard potential mates quite quickly. After all, we are so dang smart and intuitive, aren't we? We figure our vast life experience prepares us to judge whether someone is a potential mate; often within the first ten minutes of meeting. Actually, the opposite is true. You are meeting adult men who, like you, are multifaceted, have some old "stuff" to dig through and have probably had lives full of twists and turns. This is exactly the reason you should approach getting to know someone slowly… layer by layer.
Related: 'Friends-with-Benefits' Over 40
6. Check your baggage. Failed marriages, health issues, pain in the butt adult children…these all get thrown into the mix when meeting men your age. It's likely you share some same experiences – divorce for instance – and it's tempting to bond on this. Don't! These are topics that will send you into negative and potentially unflattering discussion. These can be shared, but in the spirit of putting your best foot forward, there's no need to be dragging these in as soon as you meet.
7. Dump the anger. The majority of men you're going to meet are not the jerks you used to date. Like you, they have grown up and learned a lot. Don't treat the man sitting in front of you like the guy who dumped you, lied to you or cheated on you. Don't assume he only wants sex, or just a dumb piece of arm candy.
It's natural to carry our past into our present but it will help you to have a keen awareness of when you're doing this. Every man you meet is unique. Give him a chance by being open and kind…until he gives you reason to be otherwise.
8. Be a Real Lady. You've been taking care of yourself a long time and are just fine being single. Congratulations. You no longer have anything to prove. Knock off the "I don't need a man" mantra and let a man into your life. The good guys are looking for a woman they can impress and please. A real lady knows how to let them. If you don't learn how to do this, you will always attract the men who want to take… not give.
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