Relationships & Divorce
6 Dating Deterrents for Women over 40 — and How to Overcome Them
It’s never too late to find your person. Here’s how to stay positive even when obstacles get in the way
Many women who reach their 35th birthday single, or rejoin the dating scene later in life, know that finding enduring love can be tough. The hardest part isn’t necessarily finding someone to go on a date with. Thanks to that multitalented phone that’s probably within arm’s reach of you right now, you’re likely just one dating app and a series of swipes or thumb taps away from getting a flirtatious conversation going with someone, somewhere.
But it is incredibly hard to find that person with whom you want to develop a fulfilling relationship — and it’s even more difficult to find the person with whom you want to build a life. I should know, having ridden the dating roller coaster for 26 years after college.
What became abundantly clear is that dating changes when you reach your later thirties or early forties. There’s a lot that’s better about dating in midlife. You have already, or are closer to, accepting and embracing the true you, with all your splendor and imperfections. You’re probably more confident than you were in your twenties or early thirties. You’re more emotionally mature, with years spent accumulating perspective and wisdom. You know what you’ll welcome and what you won’t stand for. You take things less personally. You show up for a date as you truly are and not as who you think the person you’re meeting expects you to be. You’re more likely to take risks and go out with people who are not your type, opening you up to new possibilities. All these factors and many others often make dating in midlife a lot more fun, fruitful, and life-affirming.
At the same time, as we get older it becomes harder for us to date at the same pace as we did in our twenties and early thirties. Let’s face it. Our days get jam-packed with all sorts of obligations, commitments, and complexities as we move through the stages of life. There are also societal dynamics outside our control that make dating tougher. All of these factors boil down to six “Dating Deterrents” that aren’t often collectively discussed.
Dating Deterrent #1 – Supply and Demand
The first is supply and demand. The longer any woman spends in the dating scene, the fewer potential partners there are to meet. When a woman is in her twenties, more people in her same age range are single than when she enters her forties, fifties, and decades beyond. It’s a simple fact, for better or for worse.
You may be all too familiar with this reality. But don’t despair. People coming out of marriages or long-term relationships get added back into the pool. Yes, some of these people are in rebound mode. Others are so scarred by their marriages that they will date casually but pull away when the possibility of commitment comes into view. I went out with a lot of these types in my forties. Our first, second, and third dates were usually fun, playful, and romantic. But the prospect of additional dates triggered their fears of commitment. They’d pull a Houdini and suddenly disappear.
Fortunately, there are lots of people emerging from relationships who are more mature and self-aware than they were when they got married. Many of them are likely in tune with the qualities they’re looking for in a woman, and have a better handle on how to be a part of a giving relationship. Their reentry into the dating pool raises its caliber.
Dating Deterrent #2 – Life’s Complications
The complications that life serves up as we get older is the second Dating Deterrent. More obligations and commitments arrive with every passing year. Understandably, many of us prioritize our jobs over our social lives. There are mortgages, student loans, and bills to pay. We may have kids or other family members to take care of. Serious health issues of our own can arise, which we need to focus on and overcome. Then there’s the ramification of all the personal upheaval and anxieties that the Covid-19 pandemic is leaving in its wake to work through. These, and many more factors, consume the carefree time that we would like to spend socializing, having fun, and meeting new people.
Dating Deterrent #3 – Societal Pressure
All the while, societal pressure is mounting around us — the third Dating Deterrent. Sometimes this pressure is subtle. Most of the time, it’s not. There’s the relative who blatantly asks, “When are you going to get married?” or the mother who reminds you how much she’d like grandkids. There’s your longtime family friend who says, “I wish I had someone to set you up with, but everyone your age I know is married.” There’s the ob-gyn who gently asks if you want to consider freezing your eggs soon.
Sound familiar? These people mean well, but their comments and judgments only make us feel more stressed about finding a lifelong partner. We doubt ourselves and wonder why we haven’t met them yet. This pressure is not helpful or healthy. Do your utmost to tune out these comments or let them ricochet off you. Don’t allow them to get you down or in any way degrade how you feel about yourself.
Dating Deterrent #4 – A Woman’s Age
Age is the fourth Dating Deterrent that impacts “seasoned daters,” which is a term I’ve lovingly coined to describe women who are single longer than they’d expected, and returning daters. We live in a society that celebrates youthfulness over aging and the maturity it brings. Standing in the checkout line at the grocery store, it’s impossible to ignore magazine covers promoting articles about how to avoid or slow down the aging process.
Like me, you’ve probably encountered people who have bought into this cultural preference. I’d always laugh when I read men’s dating profiles that listed the ideal woman’s age as being 15 or even 30 years younger than their own. Instead of getting angry or frustrated, feel sorry for these men. They are missing out on being with a more mature woman, who’s more confident in and out of the bedroom, self-sufficient, open to what life might bring, and opts for authenticity instead of playing games.
Thankfully, the ageism Dating Deterrent isn’t universal. There are many people who value life experience and want to date women who have plenty of it. These are the ones worth spending time getting to know.
Dating Deterrent #5 – Fear of Getting Hurt Again
Sometimes we can get so frustrated with the dating scene, or emotionally bruised by it, that the fear of getting hurt again— the fifth Dating Deterrent — keeps us from dating. But the tough truth is that rejection is required for the dating process to work. Everyone suffers rejection. Either you’re rejecting someone or they’re rejecting you until the day arrives when you meet your person. There’s no shame in this. Don’t take it personally! I realize that it’s one of the hardest things to do, and yet that’s exactly what needs to happen.
You’re looking for compatibility and so are the people you’re meeting. If you don’t hear back from someone, or you’re not both feeling it, or the timing is wrong, then you should let go. Sure, you may need to take a break to dust yourself off, but don’t allow those goodbyes to prevent you from moving forward.
Dating Deterrent #6 – Community Support Decreases
As I remained single, I found the drop in communal support to be the hardest aspect of dating year after year. For me, this final Dating Deterrent was the most difficult one. When you were in your twenties, you probably knew lots of women who were in the dating scene. What about in your thirties? As I progressed through that decade, my single friends numbered fewer and fewer. While I still had a core group of unattached girlfriends — some of whom were newer friends — by the time most of us were in our mid-forties, our group had dwindled to just a handful of women.
Dating went from being a supportive, shared experience to what often felt like a solo journey. I discovered that I wasn’t the only person who felt this way. Are you living your own version of my experience? Can you relate? Luckily there’s now CoveyClub, and other emerging women’s communities, that bring together Baby Boomers and GenXers to connect, support, share and celebrate our journeys.
If you’re seeking a loving companion, do your utmost to not let the Dating Deterrents discourage or prevent you from going out on dates and finding your person. Every woman who wants to be coupled is worthy and deserving of enjoying a lifelong, loving relationship with her ideal match.
Jodi Klein knows what it’s like to date longer and later in life. A demanding career and desire to find her “Mr. Yes” led to her becoming an alumnus of nearly 400 dates over the course of 26 years. She is the author or First Date Stories: Women’s Romantic and Ridiculous Midlife Adventures and the host of the podcast First Date Stories. For more information, go to FirstDateStories.com.
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