Dating again for the over 40s

Dating: Mature Couple Enjoying a Park in Autumn

There’s a lot in the media about dating again later in life. With the statistics not looking good, more and more people will find themselves in this position.

Dating: Mature Couple Enjoying a Park in AutumnHave you been watching My Shirley Valentine Summer on ITV? It features eight well known female celebrities seeking love and gives some interesting insights into finding love again later in life.

Jeremy Vine on Radio 2 even did a week recently focusing on this subject, and one lady told of the difficulties she had in finding a new relationship with online dating.

A recent study featured in The Mail on Sunday reported research by the University of Bamberg. It concluded that people are strongly guided by gender stereotypes on what is considered attractive. Although it might be regarded as highly unfair, facial attractiveness is a door opener in everyday life.

In 2012 I found myself in the position of seeking a new relationship after the end of my 35-year marriage. Dating again later in life after the end of a long-term relationship can be a minefield. There are a lot of happy success stories out there, me being one of them, but a lot of unhappy ones too.

How times have changed since the 1970’s where you met a partner at work, in a club or pub or on a blind date, set up by one of your friends.

Ladies and Gentlemen welcome to the new age – ONLINE DATING

Many online dating sites exist, from free sites to specialist web sites. Some that are for married people thrill seeking affairs, same sex dating, age specific dating and the list goes on. We are talking about people over 40 trying to dip their toe back into the dating pond.

So how do you approach it?

You write a dating profile and add a few photographs – recent ones – best frock for the ladies and smart clothes for the gents. A beer belly on display with a pint of lager resting upon said belly is not attractive to ladies!

As in all relationships start with the truth and nothing but. If you smoke admit it, if you drink a glass or two of wine each night admit it, your age IS your age, no one cares if you are 52 or 49 – it’s just a number!

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Write your profile honestly and if you can interject a spot of humour more the better, talk about your hobbies, life experiences and all about what makes you tick. Some people love the gym experience, others don’t. Do you have children or grandchildren? Mention it all!!

So, you have now joined a dating site, it’s time to select the filters. You select your preferences, your choices. You can select location, drinkers, smokers, car owners, divorced or separated and so on and so on.

Look through the pictures carefully, are you attracted to anyone? If you are, what do you do now? You can send them a “wink” or “a virtual wave”.  I’ll leave you to decide about that one!

The important thing is that online dating is not for the faint-hearted. It can be difficult at times as unfortunately there are some not-so-nice people about, so you will need to be a bit thick skinned at times. Block anyone if the need arises.

In the main you are all online looking for the same thing, so it takes time and a bit of work but it can also be fun. A good tip is to write something interesting in your diary a feature many of the sites offer. Also read diaries others have put up and see if you can get a conversation going from it.

When you have found someone you like start talking online, see how that goes then progress to having a chat on the phone. There is no mad rush, take it slow and build up the relationship until you both feel ready to finally meet up.

Tips for meeting-up

Always arrange to have your first date in a public place and a friend on standby via phone should you need assistance. The chances are that all will be well, but if you feel the person is not right for you be honest and kind and just speak the truth. It’s not fair to string anyone along and hopefully they will give you the same courtesy.

Think about how you are going to dress and give some thought to common ground conversation you can have. If this date doesn’t work out don’t be disheartened. It’s all good experience and hopefully good fun too.

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If you find the dating game isn’t working for you it may be a good idea to take a break and use the time to work on yourself.

How is your relationship with you?

You see this is key in attracting the right person. If you’ve had problems in past relationships do you understand what went wrong and the part you played? To establish a loving relationship, you need to have one with yourself first.

So, take a notebook and pen, put aside some time where you won’t be disturbed and write down all the things you like about yourself. What don’t you like about yourself and why? For some this maybe a real challenge and if you are really stuck ask a trusted friend to help.

Next write about what is important to you:

  • What are your values in life?
  • What ambitions or goals do you want to achieve in your life?
  • What do you like to do in your spare time?
  • What would you like to do in the future?

If there are some things you don’t like about yourself, could you change? Or can you get to a place where you can accept that they are part of who you are?

It’s important to be honest with yourself, but in a compassionate and loving way.

It’s also important to enjoy your own company, understand what you like to do on your own or with others.

While you wait for your new love to come into your life, learn to have fun by yourself as this gives you a strong foundation and confidence. You don’t want to be coming from a place of need as this will not attract the right person for you. You do need to be honest, open and comfortable with who you are and show that from the very beginning when dating.

It will only end in tears and wear you out pretending to be someone you’re not. So, when you have done the work on you and are ready to move forward then read on.

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What are you looking for?

Make a list of all the important traits you seek. Slim? Well built? Colour of hair? Colour of eyes? Good looking? Do you prefer a smart or casual look? Or are looks not an issue – yes of course what you are physically attracted to in appearance is important but what else do you find attractive?

Kindness? Loyalty? Sense of humour? Ambitious? Hard working? Smoker or non-smoker? Drinker? Takes the lead? Calm? Outrageous? Rich? Comfortable? Money’s not an issue? Home owner? Creative? Confident? Well-travelled? What level of education? Intelligent? What do they do for a living?

What values do you want them to have? Some of this may not be important to you but is worth considering. Family values? How do you see you living your life together? What sort of things will you enjoy doing together? Do you want to travel? Happy to be at home?

Do you have a bucket list of things you want to do? If so write it down, if you don’t then maybe now is a good time to write one.

What do you have to offer?

As you know a relationship is not all one-sided, so it’s important to think about what you have to give to this lovely new person you are seeking in your life.

Go back to the list you made that outlined all the things you liked about yourself and think about all the things you have to give. Compassion? Loving? Kind? Caring? Assertive? Intuitive? Understanding? Easy going? Trustful? Good at talking things through? Approachable? Independent? Supportive? Fun? Open minded?

It is important to be honest, there is no point pretending to be something that you’re not.

Write down everything about yourself, what you like to do, how you like to live your life and all the qualities you have to give?

Now you have a good idea of what you’re looking for, what you have to give, and how you see your life together, it’s time to start the search again.