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Dating in your 40s: How to make lasting connections in mid-life

by eharmony Editorial Team February 19, 2024

Dating in your 40s is likely going to be very different than dating in your 20s or 30s – for one thing, your life is likely more complex, with previous relationships and maybe even kids – but that doesn’t mean it can’t be wonderful. That said? It’s completely okay to be nervous about dipping a toe in the dating pool again (or even for the first time). In this article, we examine whether it’s harder to date at 40 and which 10 tips make dating in your 40s easier.

Is dating at 40 harder? eharmony relationship answers

We asked one of our eharmony relationship experts Dr. Lalitaa Suglani whether it really is harder to date in your 40s and which tips make dating life easier and she answered: “Dating may be challenging due to life experience and past experiences that shape a person’s expectations. However, many find they are clearer on their dating goals and willing to practice self-care and better boundaries which can help create a more meaningful and secure relationship. You bring with you a rich life experience and hopefully self-awareness. It is never too late to find love at any age!”

Let’s dive into some dating over 40 tips you should consider.

1. Make sure you’re ready to date

Regardless of what people may say, it’s better to be single in your 40s than rush into an ill-considered relationship. This is especially true if you’re not over your last one. Before you say yes to a date, be sure you’re agreeing because you want a new relationship, not because you think you have to be in one.

TIP: Professional therapy can help you sort out any complex feelings you have about looking for love.

2. Figure out what you want and be clear about it

One of the best things about dating in your 40s? You (hopefully) have a better idea of precisely what you want and need in a relationship. If not? Figuring it out before you start dating might mean you avoid miscommunication or even heartbreak. Be clear about what you’re looking for from the start, whether that’s something serious, something casual, or something else entirely.

TIP: Talk to your partner about where the relationship is going sooner rather than later; an awkward conversation is better than wasted time.

3. Be intentional and authentic

Most people don’t have the spare time in their 40s that they did in their 20s, so it’s important to use it wisely. Remember, you don’t need to appeal to all the single guys over 40 or all the single women – just one. Choose the right dating site or app (eharmony is a great online dating option for over 40s), be truthful in your profile, and make the first move – you might not succeed all the time but your chances of forging an authentic connection will be higher.

TIP: Ask a trusted friend to go over your profile and photos with you if you’re feeling nervous.

4. Keep the first date low key

Remember, the first date is just that: the first of hopefully many. If you’re dating after a divorce or big break-up, it can be tempting to speak negatively about your ex. Resist that: there’s no bigger red flag. Instead, focus on being the best version of yourself – you want to give the other person a reason to want a second date, after all. However, don’t sugarcoat or worse, lie, even if it’s just a little white one – you never know when it’ll come back to bite you.

TIP: Choose something quick and low-effort, like a coffee date or museum visit. 

5. Give it time

First-date jitters happen at all ages, which is why it’s important not to write someone off too early. Unless there are immediate red flags it’s worth giving chemistry time to develop. Taking your time will help you shed assumptions you may be carrying from your previous relationship and help you create a stronger, healthier bond. But if it’s not working, it’s not working, and you should feel free to move on.

TIP: Give yourself a limit on how many dates you’ll go on before pulling the plug. 

6. Keep your independence as a single over 40

It can be tempting, not to mention easy, to dive headfirst into a new relationship. However, doing so risks damaging other things in your life, like your job, family and friends. Regardless of how happy you are with your new partner, it’s important to have your own life, especially if you you’re dating with kids. This is especially important for single women over 40 – if a partner expects your life to suddenly revolve around them, it’s a sign they shouldn’t be in it at all.

TIP: Schedule regular time with friends, family, even yourself. 

7. Wait to introduce the kids

Regardless of whether you’re dating after a divorce, a bad breakup, or a bereavement, it’s important not to introduce your kids to new partners straight away. Regardless of their age, kids need time to adjust to big changes. Going slowly and giving them the space to have their own emotions is key. 

TIP: Don’t try to rush the relationship; let your kids and your partner connect at their own pace.

8. Communicate

The good thing? Anyone who’s dating in their 40s is more aware of what they want than in their 20s. The bad thing? They’re much more set in their ways. This makes it even more important to talk with any potential partners. Being clear right from the start can help you cut down on misunderstandings and avoid disputes, or deal with baggage from previous relationships.

TIP: Read a relationship book like John Gottman’s ‘The Five Love Languages’ together.

9. Be understanding about scheduling conflicts

There’s no way around it – life is just fuller in your 40s and finding time for dating can feel like a juggling act. Give your partner grace when they cancel or reschedule – it’s more likely real-life responsibilities are to blame than a lack of interest in you.

TIP: Offbeat dates like breakfast or getting groceries are a great way to carve out time together.

10. Be present

It can be tempting, as someone who’s dating over 40, to daydream about happily ever after. While there’s nothing wrong with a clear vision of where you want to go, don’t be so focused on the future that you lose out on the present. Enjoy the moment for what it is rather than worrying about later.

TIP: Go on a screen-free date every once in a while so you can connect with your partner without any distractions.

Dating in your 40s: 9 Tips from Dr. Lalitaa Suglani

eharmony relationship expert Dr. Lalitta Suglani summarized the most important rules you should consider when dating in your 40s:

  1. Embrace the current dating scene and that includes online dating!
  2. Identify your relationship goals.
  3. Be realistic in your expectations.
  4. Prioritise what is important for you
  5. Take your time
  6. Give yourself time after the end of a relationship.
  7. Go to therapy to gain insights into your behaviours and help you to understand what is important in a relationship.
  8. Be intentional with your choices and what you share
  9. Have fun!

Over 40 doesn’t mean over the hill

Dating over 40 comes with unique challenges but rewards, too. It might take patience, and a willingness to go off the beaten path, but dating in your 40s can be a wonderful adventure. eharmony is the perfect place to get started – our members all want an authentic connection with someone looking for the same things. Sign up for eharmony and take your first step on the road to a real relationship today.

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