Dating at any age is an adventure. There are major differences between dating in your 20s compared to dating in your 40s. In your 20’s you’re quickly diving into relationships, wanting to just be loved. In your 30’s you may be feeling the pressure of settling down. While in your 40’s you’ve most likely already lived with someone at one point and tried all those first-time experiences. You might even be in round two or three of marriage. You may feel like you are more ready than ever for your next relationship because you now know what you want or not want from a partner, or on the other end you find yourself beating yourself up as if something is wrong with you. However, in your 40’s dating can bring about a particular array of understanding when you choose to explore your past experiences. One that can lead to a process of self-discovery. You will find some unique challenges at every age but there is still much to be excited about as you consider dating again and learning about yourself in the process.
In your 40’s you have gained experience and have (hopefully) started identifying some patterns of how you show up in your relationships. Perhaps you’ve taken the time to identify what you value the most, what your triggers might be, and what you may be wanting in order to share a life with another person. Through your likely experience of having dated several partners you have been able to evolve and to understand what you value in an ideal partner and what traits you will no longer tolerate.
Lessons are learned through relationship experiences, breakups, heartbreaks and divorce. These lessons have shifted your perspective. You may have experienced trauma that makes you hesitant to try again. However, there is hope. If you are willing to trust in your journey of self-discovery and choose to get a better understanding of yourself in past relationships.
What You Desire Evolves with Age
There are behaviors you may no longer tolerate in your 40s. Armed with this knowledge, you are often more comfortable declining a date if you know it is not the right match. You likely are not as afraid of hurt feelings and look out for your own best interests.
When you are younger, you may not have considered what you seek in an ideal partner. You may be willing to give many a chance and overlook your own values. Unfortunately, by taking this risk, many end up in a committed relationship with someone whom is not compatible for a life partnership.
In your 40s, you know what you want from a relationship. If it is not a match, whether physical or emotionally, you are more likely to walk away. Often it is easier to do this without a sense of obligation, guilt, or explanation.
The challenge, however, is you may experience more rejection because those you are dating also have a solid understanding of what they want in a relationship.
Nevertheless, when you lean into these relationships with authentic power to understand how you yourself are showing up in your dating life, you are able to create change in your narratives and evolve as a person.
There Will Be Challenges
In your 40s, it is important to know you will likely experience rejection. There are also potential dates who are just leaving a long-term relationship or marriage. They may not be interested in investing in another committed relationship.
Children may be a factor. Though your children may be older, they will still be a factor in any relationship. The children will also likely be a priority, whether for you or for the person you are dating.
The behaviors and needs of the children must also be considered. If you bring two sets of children together from different homes, will they get along? What will you do if there are conflicts? Sometimes it is enough to break a relationship.
Another challenging factor can be your career. It could be just as much as a challenge in your 40s as it was in your 20s. Many in their 40s are sometimes in management or leadership roles. The role can be not only demanding but incredibly stressful mentally. Stress from a career will always be a factor in a relationship at some point.
Marriage may not be on the table when you are dating in your 40s. With the high divorce rates today, older singles are more hesitant to marry again. They understand the emotional, financial, and sexual implications of a long-term relationship. It is a challenge if marriage is something still seen as a priority in your relationships.
There may be challenges, but that does not mean you cannot find success when dating in your 40s.
Successful Tips for Dating in Your 40s
Consider Dating Other Single Parents
Other single parents may be the best option if you are a parent. It is also helpful if your children are around the same age. They understand children will always come first and that plans can change.
Communicate your Needs
Communicate your needs, desires, life dreams and goals from the beginning of the relationship. This will help the other person get to know you. And don’t be afraid to set boundaries. Boundaries are a part of intimacy.
Remain Curious to the Process
Don’t be afraid to ask the other person questions about their past relationships, upbringing, spirituality, finances and sexual beliefs. You want to find out how much you connect emotionally, financially, spiritually, and sexually. Let yourself get to know the other person based on who they are, not on the fantasy of who you want them to be.
Take it Slow
There is no urgency when dating in your 40s. Get to know someone before deciding to commit to something long-term. By taking it slow, you can also distinguish lust from committed love. Remember, at the end of the day, love is a choice.
Take care of yourself and take the time to learn how you show up in a romantic relationship. Learn how your childhood narratives show up in your romantic relationships. What subconscious defense mechanisms you've created that block you from fully receiving love or even being fully present in a relationship.
Keep an Open-Mind
Get rid of a tight list you might have in mind. If you can try to have fun, enjoy the conversation, and let relationships flow naturally, you will likely find what you are looking for long-term.
There is Hope to Find Love in Your 40s
In your 40s, you have more acceptance over yourself and perhaps are even more comfortable with yourself. Through self-acceptance, you can bring your authentic self to your romantic relationships. Therefore the quality of relationships in your 40’s can be one of deeper understanding, trust, vulnerability, love and authenticity.
Co-founder of the Love Discovery Institute, Dr. Carolina Pataky is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Clinical Sexologist and Certified Sex Therapist. Recognized as one of South Florida’s leading authorities on intimacy, relationships and self-discovery. Her focus is to give individuals and couples of any sexual preference the tools to learn how to love themselves unconditionally, receive love, and create fulfilling and joyful relationships that will last a lifetime. Through private sessions, couples’ intensives and luxury retreats, she provides individual and couples coaching sessions, sex therapy, and psychotherapy practices that support clients through the journey of finding the right path to healthy love. Visit her website www.lovediscovery.org or follow @carolinapataky