Dating At Middle Age – A Few Home Truths

So, you find yourself single, far from your twilight years, but not exactly in your twenties.

Perhaps you have been married for 30 years and suddenly end up divorced. Perhaps, like me, you have been single several times, and are thinking “here we go again”!

Whether you are just in your 30’s or hitting 60, the dating world can be a scary place. I know that for a fact, as I have experienced dating in one way or another every decade since I was 30 after my first divorce, then at 40 after a long term relationship, and finally at 50 when my second (short lived) marriage ended. (A little tip: NEVER marry a narcissist!) But that’s a topic for another time.

So how does one find love as a middle-aged woman?

What do you do when realise you are ‘out there’ again? Footloose and fancy-free, no longer spoken for, no longer tied down, partner-less, ALONE?

It’s probably not what you had in mind for this stage of your life, but let’s face it, it’s not all bad either. Perhaps you have left a toxic relationship behind; perhaps you just grew apart; perhaps there was more for you to experience and this was just part of your personal journey.

Regardless of how you got there, dealing with being single can be tough at any age but there are pros and cons to being out there again with a little experience under your belt.

Let’s start with the positives. When you are in your mid years, you tend to know yourself better. You know what you want, and what you are willing to settle for.

You have probably had a few relationships, or at least a long term one, and you know what you love and what doesn’t float your boat.

I believe, as older women, we accept ourselves more. We don’t tend to be as picky about our bodies, our personalities, and are more aware of our wants and desires. 

We have been ‘around the block’ so to speak and know we can survive on our own if we need to. We are often more self-sufficient and independent and have established friendships that can sustain us through challenging times like breakups.

But there is a downside. Dating and being single in our middle years is quite daunting.

When we were younger, it was simple. You see a boy. He sees you. You like each other and go out on a date. Not these days. Not even close.

The internet has changed all that and, if you haven’t used dating sites before, a word of warning – You are not going to know what hit you!

With over 8000 dating sites worldwide, you would think there would be one good match out there but it’s quite confronting. What do I choose? eHarmony, Coffee Meets Bagel, okCupid, Zoosk, Tinder, Bumble, Happn, Silver singles, Elite singles, Love again, I am naughty, Naughty date, Single and wicked, the list goes on.

The first time I went on a dating site was RSVP, a very ‘PG’ one I am told. It was after my first marriage breakup (a long time after) and I decided to give it a go. A few home truths about dating sites – as the ‘fresh blood’ you will be inundated with offers; I can guarantee that. What I will tell you, is buyer beware. They are not all genuine.

Okay that probably doesn’t come as a major shock, but if you are like I was (naive and gullible), I would like to save you the heartache.

When you first try online dating, it is like stepping into the lion’s den.

You upload a few photos (use recent. There is no point not to. If you are going to meet someone in person, they will see you anyhow.)

I only met up with a couple of guys in those early days – BIG MISTAKE. A good-looking Italian who ended up being shorter than me (I’m five foot) and another local guy who spiked my drink (yes, I can pick them!) I figure if a hot bath and block of chocolate are more appealing than the date you’re on, then why bother?

Needless to say, I went off dating sites for a while as they just weren’t my thing. I wanted to find losers the normal way, out and about. So, onto the nightclubs.

Mistake number two.

I love going out and dancing but suddenly noticed that everybody had gotten so young. When most of the people in there were younger than my own children, that was a sign. Lesson two – forget the nightclubs.

Of course that left over 30s clubs, but how far over 30 can you be? Some friends and I would go to clubs for older people and definitely enjoyed ourselves more. The music was up our alley, we danced and occasionally might meet someone, but it became more of a social outing than trying to meet a man.

I decided that meeting a man did not have to be a vocation. If it happened, it happened and, in the meantime, why not have fun?

My friends used to say every man you go out with doesn’t have to be the next husband and, as time went on, I learnt that, and actually became quite good at dating.

It’s different when you are doing it for fun and not taking it so seriously. I had watched Sex and the City religiously. I knew I wasn’t a Samantha, but I didn’t necessarily have to be a Carrie either.

I had always related to Carrie. We are both writers, both love shoes and fashion, and both had bad luck with men, but I had to change my attitude.  I had always had a sense of desperation when it came to finding someone, and would be looking for my “next love” before I had time to get over the last one.

When you first break up, remember to take time out for yourself before you start dating. Don’t let loneliness drive you out there again to possibly the wrong person.

Find hobbies you like, rediscover yourself as a single person. Be kind to yourself. And, when you are ready, go out and date as a social activity. It has taken me a lot of years to understand that the right person will come along just as the cliché says, “when you are not even looking.”

That’s how it happened for me.

The woman who bared her soul on Married At First Sight, the woman who the whole of Australia knows didn’t trust her own judgement with men, the woman who endured breakup after breakup.

And, if it can happen for me, I promise it will happen for you.

In the meantime, just enjoy!! Every interaction you have teaches you something about yourself. So put on your dancing shoes, get out the glitter, and go out there and have a ball. Let’s face it, half the fun is in the looking!