29 Tips for Finding Love in Your 40s
Ah, love. It’s wonderful and terrifying no matter when you find it. But looking for love after 40 comes with its own unique joys and challenges.
So, how’d ya get here?
By the time you reach your 40s, there are many possible paths your life may have taken to get you to where you are. As Brian Bishop*, a recently divorced 40-something Connecticut man told us, “You can’t date in your 40s without considering how you came to be dating in your 40s. Is it that you’ve never been married? Or is it that your marriage has come to an end? Whatever your answer, it affects your perspective.” For example, if you’ve never been married, but still hope to have children, you may approach dating with more of a sense of urgency than someone who has already done the whole family thing. And someone who still has young children at home will invariably have to approach dating differently from an empty nester. “Like it or not, these are factors that will come into play in determining with whom you’re compatible,” Bishop says.
*Some of the names of our singles have been changed for privacy purposes.
There’s no better time than now to find true love
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Maybe you’ve had your fair share of frustration, rejection, and heartache, but while you can’t erase your past, you can certainly learn from it. In fact, “when you’re in our 40s, you can really make use of those life experiences,” notes Jodi J. De Luca, PhD, a licensed clinical psychologist in Colorado. It’s not just that you know yourself and what works and doesn’t work in relationships, it’s that by the time you reach your 40s, you’ve probably felt “the magic of love,” as Dr. DeLuca puts it, and “if you’ve felt it before, you can and will feel it again. The emotional brain is seemingly void of chronological age or time. We can and do fall in love at any age.”
Start by owning where you’re at in your life
When you’re single in your 40s, some people react to you as if you’re violating some natural order. “People tend to look perplexed. They want to know why,” says Tanya Fruehauf, MA, CSAT, CCC, a Canadian psychotherapist. “The reality is, however, that the timeline of finding love in our youth is an arbitrary and outdated prescription. Own your singleness as a choice you’ve made, whatever your reasons are.” Here’s how to use body language for better relationships.
Embrace being single
This is important not just as an internal attitude, but as a matter of how you project yourself, says Jennie Lynn, relationship expert and author. “Don’t express a hatred for being alone or single. We need to be comfortable being alone and loving ourselves, and that positive energy will attract a partner who is right for you.”
Recognize what you bring to the table
“Allow your wealth of life experiences to make you confident in going for what you want,” suggests Margaret Bell, MA, a Colorado-based mental health counselor. “You’ve lived a few decades, and you probably have a few battle scars. You’ve got history and experience. You’ve learned lessons and you’ve got lots to share. You are ready for give and take and to create a lasting relationship with someone who shares your values and interests.”
But, don’t drag the past into the present
It’s one thing to learn from your past on an intellectual level. It’s another to stay mired in it emotionally, says online dating consultant, Stacy Karyn. “It’s essential to move past the past if you want to snatch up someone great,” she says, adding that it’s not just a matter of how you feel, but also a matter of how you project yourself in the early stages of dating. “Try not to talk too much about your past relationships in your first few dates,” Karyn advises. Avoid saying these words on a first date too: Experts agree they’re pretty much off-limits.
Treat everyone as an individual
One way to get “past the past” is to remind yourself that each new person you meet is exactly that: a new person. “Just because you’ve had some bad experiences, that doesn’t mean that everyone you meet will lead to that same bad experience,” says Kimberly Hershenson, LMSW. It’s not fair to anyone to project your past experiences onto them, and you’re far more likely to really get to know a person if you view them as an individual, rather than as some sort of reincarnation of a relationship past.
Don’t be a cynic
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Owning your past, recognizing mistakes you’ve made, and even working through the pain of having been wronged is not the same as coming at dating with a negative attitude. “Don’t let your life experience turn you into a cynic,” suggests Jonathan Bennett, relationship coach. “Instead, try to connect with the old energy and excitement you had before you had these experiences.” Connecting with those positive feelings doesn’t mean forgetting the lessons you’ve learned, he points out. It just means allowing yourself to enjoy the moment with some of your youthful exuberance.
Treat each first date as a clean slate
When you have a bad date, says Hershenson, it’s easy to fall into negative thought patterns, especially if you’re a veteran of dating and relationships. But don’t. Come to each date with an open mind, Hershenson suggests. Here are 11 creative date ideas to get a conversation started.
Control your expectations
It’s one thing to hope you find what you’re looking for, but don’t expect anything, says Sara Anderson, a licensed professional counselor in Georgia. “Expectations lead to disappointments,” she says. Instead, Anderson suggests keeping your hopes high and your expectations low. This will help take the pressure off both you and your date. And be sure to always avoid these annoying dating habits.