Let’s get real for a moment: Once you’ve been huffing and puffing for 40-plus years, you’ve earned some serious stripes. By now, you’ve probably survived everything from bad relationships to bad jobs, and crazy friends to complex family relationships. In other words, you’ve earned wisdom that you didn’t have when you were younger. For this reason, dating tips that apply to people in their 20s and 30s don’t always apply to the over 40 crowd. I have created a list of simple dating tips that can help the over 40 crowd flourish in the dating scene and keep the focus on what counts.
Celebrate your age instead of trying to hide it
Sure, you want to look good as you age, and that may involve any number of behaviors you engage in to look a little younger: working out, dying your hair, cosmetic fillers, and so forth. The point is that you can try to look as good as possible but still proudly celebrate your chronological age. The next time you’re on a first date, speak out proudly and announce your age, and include the fact that you think you look alright! For example, say, “I’m [insert age] and I am proud of the fact that I’m holding up okay!”
Focus on the lessons you’ve learned over the years
“Wisdom” is one of those words that has almost become corny in its over-usage. The truth, however, is that wisdom should count for an awful lot, with your years of life experience pointing you toward better decisions. When you go on dates, feel empowered by the fact that you have a lot of years of experience to draw from as you try to figure out a new person and to determine whether the two of you make a good fit. Think of the lessons you’ve learned as a result of previous relationships and friendships. By now, you have a sense of who the safe types are, and who the types are who shouldn’t be trusted or who seem unreliable or flaky.
Laugh at yourself more
Gosh, remember when you were younger and felt self-conscious at the slightest provocation? Becoming more mature is about not taking life – or yourself – too seriously. If you have a bad date, have a good laugh about it later with a friend, and remember that the next date could be much better. If you don’t feel like you’re at your emotional best or you’re not feeling especially attractive or desirable, don’t fret. Tell yourself that anyone worth developing a relationship with will see through all the silly stuff and like you just the way you are. (Thank you, Bruno Mars.)
Keep your eye on the types of people who fit with your overall lifestyle
When you’re in your 20s and even 30s, you may choose to date people based more on appearance, social image, or sexual attraction. By the time you hit 40, you should have learned that it’s most savvy to base your romantic decisions on other more meaningful factors: reliability, consistency, financial establishment, hobbies, and future goals. Focus on the kind of lifestyle you want in the future, and ask yourself if the person you’re on a date with would fit well within that life style. Get a sense of their own social network and the way they spend their personal time, and ask yourself if you would fit well into their lifestyle, too.
Simple reminders to make you feel good:
Dating is supposed to be fun, so make sure to schedule activities that you like. Be proud of the fact you’re over 40 because you have many years of experience to draw from. Finally, don’t hide or play games about your age. (See the world’s most annoying question: “How old do you think I am?”) Announce your age proudly and your confidence will be quite a turn-on. Most of all, feel secure knowing that you’ve got years of experience under your belt so you can draw from wisdom and lessons learned that you couldn’t when you were younger and more naïve.
Dr. Seth is a licensed clinical psychologist, author, Psychology Today blogger, and TV guest expert. He practices in Los Angeles and treats a wide range of issues and disorders and specializes in relationships, parenting, and addiction. He has had extensive training in conducting couples therapy and is the author of Dr. Seth’s Love Prescription: Overcome Relationship Repetition Syndrome and Find the Love You Deserve