There is arguably nothing more exhilarating than falling in love and finding out that your feeling are reciprocated. That being said, the often long and arduous road before getting there can be hard on anyone, and this is especially true of people who’ve been out of the game for the better part of this millennium or even before. Whether you are recently-separated, widowed or otherwise, this doesn’t mean you must live out the rest of your life without romance.
Since the rules of the game have changed quite a bit in the last couple of decades, here are some guidelines and tips to dating in these days for people of ages 40+:
1. Set up a dating site account
Finding a date is far easier nowadays with the advent of dating sites and apps. Most are very user-friendly, and there are quite a bit that are geared towards seniors and people above 40. The perks of using such a dating app is that there aren’t any questions of intention or trying to guess whether or not a person is single. You’re all there for the same reason. It can also save a lot of time, as you can search for people by shared interests, or rule out people on the basis of some of the things they write about themselves which may be unpalatable for you. On that note:
2. Don’t take rejection personally
Don’t expect every effort you make to meet with resounding success, nor every thoughtful message you send out to be answered. As a rule, try to be sparing in your emotional investment in the dating process. Not all dates go well, and sometimes, one party may feel the date was successful while the other one feels it was a total disaster. If someone doesn’t answer you or nipped what seemed like a promising conversation in the bud- that’s fine. The old adage about the fish in the sea has never been truer.
3. Don’t overshare
There’s a balance to master between being too wooden and tight-lipped and burdening your date with more than they bargained for. Odds are, a lot of people in the dating pool have a painful story to tell about how they got there in the first place, and most don’t like to be reminded of it as they’re trying to start over. God willing, there will be a time to open up further down the line, but the first couple of dates are definitely not the time for that conversation.
4. Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket
You may feel it’s inappropriate to date or message multiple people at the same time- don’t. It’s not only fine to cast a wide net when dating, it’s a very sound strategy to maximize success rates and save time. Monogamy is great- when you’re a couple.
5. Own your age, don’t mask it
When setting up a dating account, don’t try to hide or downplay your age in pictures or the way you express yourself. The people you’d like to attract are looking for maturity, for something relatable, they’re looking for you.
6. Be a little flirty
The big advantage of dating sites is that you know for a fact that the people on them are single and looking. Don’t be afraid to flirt once you’ve established some rapport, so long as you don’t send people untoward and unsolicited messages.
7. Set up the first dates on neutral ground
To set both of you at ease and for privacy and security’s sake, for the first couple of dates and until you hit it off, arrange to meet outside and in public places such as restaurants and cafés.
8. Try to create some physical contact
One of the hardest things about dating is getting over the initial awkwardness of it all and establishing physical contact. If you feel like the date is going well, don’t be afraid to try and touch hands. When saying your goodbyes, a peck on the cheek might be in order. Just be respectful of your date’s boundaries and learn to read their reactions. If your date isn’t ready for this sort of intimacy- give them space and be patient.
9. Be attentive
Try to keep the amount of time you spend talking on par with the time you’re listening to your date. Take an active interest in your date without being too intrusive. Get them talking and make them feel at ease with you.
10. Consult with friends
Your friends can be of tremendous help in treading the romantic waters, whether these are friends who were in the same boat as you, or ones who know someone else who might be looking for a date. Not everyone is as comfortable with online dating or asking someone out. Getting someone to set up a date for you could be a good idea.
11. A small gesture goes a long way
Just because we’re living in a different age, it makes small and thoughtful gestures stand out all the more. Picking up your date on the first date might be a bit much, but accompanying them to the car or station on the way back could be a good idea. A bouquet on the second or third date is also a very charming gesture.
12. Market yourself
Play up your accomplishments and your fortes. Try not to come off as snooty or arrogant while describing your achievements, but don’t be too humble, either. The image you should be going for is someone who’s perfectly comfortable with who he or she is.