We’ve all been there — the point when the alarm bells ring with your date. You can almost see the red flag appearing in front of your eyes. For singles over 40, those alarms can sound all too quickly. After all, daters in their midlife years know themselves pretty well, and they also know exactly what they will (and will not) stand for. Here’s our foolproof plan for banishing those bells and finding true love…
Table of Contents:
- Market yourself well
- Narrow the field
- Take it slooooow
- Know what you want
- Dump the anger and baggage
- Honesty’s the best policy
- Line up your libido’s
- Ditch the self absorption
- Ying and Yang
1. Market yourself well
Playing the dating game can be a challenge at any age or stage in life, but doing so at mid-life has a whole host of other concerns that Nancy Michaels and Neil Wood cover in depth in their book, ‘Dating Success After 40’. The ingenious theme of this book is based on their collective experience as marketing (Michaels) and sales (Wood) experts, and how both apply to the online and offline dating post 40 – from the male and female perspectives. They advise taking a marketing and sales concept to the business of midlife dating, “See yourself as an individual who needs to be marketed to a potential partner,” they write. “It would be nice to believe that we didn’t have to make an effort to find true love, but anything worth having is worth working for – especially a meaningful relationship.” Neil and Nancy emphasise the importance of finding your “ideal target market“– or dating “prospect,” something Barton Goldsmith, Ph.D. in Emotional Fitness, also believes is important for dating success. “Finding a mate is like finding a job,” says Barton. “It is something you have to work at every day until you’re successful. Ask everyone you know. On average we all know about 250 other people, one or two of them are going to know someone else who is single and looking. I know that dating in your 40′s and beyond is a challenge,” he says. “But the good news is that you are at a time in your life when you and your prospective mates know what you want. Remember that the only way you’ll meet someone is by putting yourself out there.”
2. Narrow the field
“Just as you can widen your search, you can also use online dating to narrow your focus,” says Lisa Becker, (www.lisawbecker.com ) an online dating success story and author of the novels ‘Click: An Online Love Story’, ‘Double Click’ and the soon to be released ‘Right Click’. “You can join a general dating service and design your dating search to make matches based on criteria important to you from interests and values to age and previous history,” she says. “You can select an online dating service that focuses exclusively on a niche market based on religion or education. Just be sure to be honest with what you are looking for and hope that everyone else is doing the same.”
By narrowing the field and dating online, Lisa reckons you‘re trading the tricky “meat market” scene of bars and clubs to meet your potential new love, and instead will enjoy the online “meet market,” which she describes as, “An international bazaar (but let’s hope not too bizarre) of prospective mates!” Lisa goes on to point out that, “The Internet allows you to make an online introduction to thousands if not millions of people around the world. So, if you want to meet someone in Katmandu, well then, you can do!”
3. Take it slooooww!
Dr Sherrie Campbell, author of ‘Loving Yourself’ and a licensed psychologist (www.sherriecampbellphd.com) advocates how importance of pace when you’re midlife dating. “The great thing about online dating is you get to set the pace of how long you communicate in writing before you meet,” says Sherrie. “Writing for a while is a nice way to get to know someone before going out with them. Also, don’t tease someone you don’t know or be sarcastic in emails because it doesn’t always translate well and you could offend someone you like.” She goes on to say, “The online communication is a gentle way to break barriers so you are not meeting a complete stranger. It also gives you a chance to use your gut instincts. Writing for a while gives you a chance to develop some perspective on the quality of this person. If you feel it is not what you are looking for then move on quickly with a classy no thank you and a delete! If you are interested, take a chance and meet up!”
Dating Expert Bobbi Palmer, (www.datelikeagrownup.com ) a relationship coach for women over 40, agrees that you need to 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?” says Bobbi. “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.”
So, remember, don’t rush it! Be sure you’re ready to date before you go online, echoes Susan Quilliam, who, since 1981, has helped thousands of people find, build and keep love, through her personal coaching in London and in Cambridge (www.susanquilliam.com). “Feel good about what you’re doing and be confident in yourself!”
4. Know what YOU want
Beginning your online search for love, from the question ‘what do I want?’ is a good place to start, advises Dating Coach Susan Quilliam (www.susanquilliam.com) . “There are literally millions of potential partners online, so your main task is to focus down the possibilities by being specific in your profile and partner specification,” she says.
It is also important to ask, “Who is the person and what is the relationship that will make you happy as the woman you are today?” says dating expert Bobbi Palmer (www.datelikeagrownup.com ). Now happily married, Bobbi became a first-time bride at age 47 and knows that meeting men in your 40s is nowhere near as easy as when you were 25. She also reckons that relationships formed in your 40s, 50s 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,” she says. “If you are looking for a meaningful and lasting relationship, dump that list of superficial adjectives he “must” possess. Instead, dig deeper,” advises Bobbi. “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.”
Take on board why your past relationships didn’t work out, notes love & sex writer Lucy Walton at www.femalefirst.co.uk , “Use that as a means of deciding what you want from your future ones and more importantly what you don’t”, she advises. Therefore, cut ties quickly if you know it isn’t right,” warns psychologist Dr Sherrie Campbell (www.sherriecampbellphd.com ). “ If during the initial dating communication you feel in your gut this person isn’t someone you are all that interested in, do not feel like you have to keep communication going,” says Sherrie. “Remember you are likely not the only person this person is pursuing online. Be direct, tasteful and kindly let them know you are not interested in meeting in person and you wish them well.”
5. Dump the anger and baggage
The majority of men you’re going to meet aren’t the idiots you used to date at Uni. 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”, warns Bobbi Palmer (www.datelikeagrownup.com ). “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,” she says. “Every man you meet is unique. Give him a chance by being open and kind…until he gives you reason to be otherwise.” She goes on to stress the importance of living in the real world when you’re midlife dating. “Those 40+ years old you’re meeting probably won’t have a full head of hair, a great six-pack and no baggage. Don’t hark back to the world you dating in when you were 18. You have to move on. Your life has changed and so has your dates.”
Check your own baggage too. “Failed marriages, health issues, pain in the ass adult children…these all get thrown into the mix when meeting men your age,” says Bobbi. “It’s likely you share some same experiences – divorce for instance – and it’s tempting to bond on this. Don’t!” she warns. “These are topics that will send you into negative and potentially unflattering discussion.”
Elliott Katz, author of ‘Being the Strong Man a Woman Wants: Timeless Wisdom on Being a Man’ agrees. “Someone who blames an ex-spouse and hasn’t looked at what he or she needed to learn too, is such a no-no”, he says. “Blaming without learning and growing [from that experience] is a big turn-off,” he warns. “Daters over 40 want to get to know others who’ve made peace with their pasts and are excited about what the future holds.” Author and dating consultant Neil Wood (www.neilwoodconsulting.com) agrees. “That’s history,” he says. “Talk about the present instead!”
Although dating in your middle years can be a whole different ball game to dating in your twenties, there’s one area where it’d do you good to follow the youngsters lead; just. Chill.
“Don’t look at your date as the answer to all of your problems — your ills, shortcomings, things you didn’t get as a child, or any other entitlements on your list,” writes Faith Murphy Knight at www.howstuffworks.com . “Rather, enjoy your date’s company and look at the experience as a chance to make a new friend, or to be enlightened on a subject you knew little about before the date,” she says. “Because at this stage of the game it means nothing, and therefore nothing should be read into the experience. Period.”
Faith goes on to explain, “Remember, even though you’re still “chilling,” if you’ve gotten past the first few dates, it’s time to show the other person you are sincere about getting to know them. Let’s stop right here and think about that phrase (go back and say it out loud if you need to)…OK, now ask yourself, did you really get to know the person during those first few dates, or were you concentrating on your needs again and what you want and expect? This is where many of us get into trouble — especially women.” She advises that being more chilled and relaxed about dating will help avoid tunnel-vision thinking, i.e., how much money he makes, what kind of car he drives, how he dresses, and keep your mind more open about his potential as a mate (if that’s what you’re looking for) based on what you’ve learned about him already. “This openness can spare you from wasting time in dead-end relationships, because you’ll find out all you need to know about the person simply by listening to him and observing his actions,” says Faith.
Relationship Coach, Susan Quilliam (www.susanquilliam.com) agrees how important it is to chillax about dating. “Instead of expecting to do it perfectly first time, be prepared for the curve,” she says. “You – and all the potential partners you meet – need to learn how to date online. So accept the bumps along the way, they’re not your fault!”
7. Honesty’s the best policy
“OF COURSE, this should go without saying, but if you are going to put yourself out there, make sure you are being honest about whom you are in your profile,” says psychologist, Dr Sherrie Campbell (www.sherriecampbellphd.com ). “A lot of people can be whomever they choose to be online. Keep it honest but also do not reveal everything,” she says. “Reveal just enough so there is a lot to talk about once you begin communicating.”
No one likes a fibber, but it’s particularly galling for the over-40 set when it comes to online dating profiles. “It’s amazing how many people are deceptive with their profiles — either by omission or misstating the facts,” says dater Sean Clark, 52. “This leads to my number-one deal-breaker: someone whose profile is not truthful. Why would I ever have a second date with someone who did not like themselves enough to tell the truth?” And according to many other over-40 daters, this peeve includes the irritating practice of posting out-of-date photos. Davis Spira of www.cyberdatingexpert.com emphasizes the importance of being honest with your photos too. “My top photo rule is to upload more than one,” he advises. “It’s important to give your matches a sense of what you really look like and make sure there are a variety of different types of photos.”
They say ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ and this sentiment is exactly what is required to make your dating profile to jump out from the crowd, writes UK dating expert Matt Hughes at www.relationshipexpert.co.uk . “Showing photographs from your travels will show any potential partners that you are adventurous, thrill seeking and outgoing, whilst too many pictures from a night out could show your enjoyment of the single life too much,” warns Matt. “Including a unique photo or image such as at the Pyramids in Egypt will make your profile stand out and increase the chances of those visiting your profile staying on your page and remembering you.”
8. Line up your libidos
Incompatible libidos can be a deal breaker when dating in your middle years “It isn’t the same for everyone,” says April Masini, founder of www.AskApril.com and author of ‘Date Out of Your League’. “While some women are coming into their sexual prime, feeling free from their kids, money worries and are in good health, many men are naturally facing a slow-down in their libidos”
“Sexual desire in women is extremely sensitive to environment and context,” notes professor of sociology, Edward O. Laumann, PhD. “The majority of adult men under 60 think about sex at least once a day, whereas, only about one-quarter of women say they think about it that frequently.” Your sex drives and sexual thoughts change in midlife. “As men and women age, each fantasize less,” says Laumann.
Experts at www.femalefirst.co.uk say it’s worth remembering the different triggers that can turn a man or woman off nooky. “For a man, work and money-related stress is particularly likely to take its toll on libido, whereas a woman’s, stress usually starts at home, and including her relationship, which sends her sexual desire packing.” You both need to get your libidos in sync, especially when moving your relationship from online and into the bedroom. You also need to be able to talk about sex, because intimacy can be a problem if you can’t discuss it frankly together — including the necessity of using protection. STDs are on the rise in the midlife community, so don’t forget to be safe even if pregnancy is no longer a concern.
9. Ditch the self-absorption
“I believe in online dating. It allows you to access huge numbers of potential partners. It allows you to get in touch with people who have your interests, your values, your approach to life and often has a great success rate,” says Susan Quilliam (www.susanquilliam.com). But, remember, “The most successful dating profiles are not selling documents, but invitations to join you in a relationship”, notes Susan at www.redonline.co.uk . Daters over 40 aren’t looking to attend a one-man (or woman) show. “Balance every reference to ‘I’ with a mention of ‘you’ and ‘we,’” she says.
Remember, it’s a relationship-building conversation you are starting. So, going on and on about yourself during a date is also a big no, no. “Do not talk in a monologue style!” advises Joan Price, author (www.NakedAtOurAge.com) and senior sexpert (www.joanprice.com) “Let’s have a dialogue,” she says.” That means that you talk, then you look interested when I talk. If you’re talking the whole time, I feel like I could be… well, anybody. At the end of the date, what have you learned? I’ve learned that I don’t want to go out with you again!”
10. A bit of Ying and Yang is no bad thing!
Knock off the “I don’t need a man” mantra and let love into your life, even if it means dating guys who don’t share all your interests. “My bottom line is that not having things in common is not always a bad thing,” says Matty Staudt, relationship writer at www.galtime.com . “It opens doors for both people to explore new options and new ways of thinking. Not having the same interests makes life so much more interesting for you in the long run,” he says. “Let’s face it, agreeing on everything is boring and having someone who challenges you and your comfort zone makes for a much more interesting long-term life” says Matty.
“Opposites can contribute to the chemistry in a relationship, but if the two of you are too different, you might end up heading in different directions,” warns Heidi Muller at www.ukaskmen.com “The best thing about being different is that it allows you to compensate for whatever quality or character trait you lack and wish you had,” continues Heidi. “You might gravitate toward someone who could be the missing piece in your life, which, as Jerry Maguire so eloquently put it, will “complete” you.”
But, obviously, if you don’t share some of the same views on basics, like, say, table manners, it’s probably best to put the brakes on the relationship. “I had a second (and last date) with someone recently who insisted on picking his teeth after eating a sandwich,” says public speaker and consultant Nancy Michaels, co-author of ‘Dating Success After 40.’ “Clearly, I can’t teach manners to a man in his fifties or beyond if he doesn’t already know how rude this is. I have three children — I’m not looking for a fourth!”
However, don’t be disheartened if you have to go through a few Yings before you find your Yang. “The good guys are looking for a woman they can impress and please,” says relationship expert Bobbi Palmer (www.datelikeagrownup.com). “Let them.”
Former AOL UK Editor, Julie Hodister has written for numerous women’s and teen magazines including, Heat, Bliss, Dare, more!,19, Smash Hits, Big! J17, Q, Sky and Chat.