Dear Dr. Paulette,
How, after the age of forty, does a woman meet a man who doesn’t have an alcohol or drug problem, but wants to settle down (often after a previous marriage), and isn’t immediately asking about one’s salary and position? Likewise, how can an older woman get to know a man without jumping into bed after a first or even second encounter? I know so many women who have found the middle-aged dating scene to be a nightmare.
There are so many women out there who seem to be searching for men who are okay with long-term relationships. Many of the men seem to be deeply troubled, perhaps because of high-pressure careers or lousy marriages or problems they just can’t seem to overcome. It is tough– I imagine that as people age, they also become more rigid. So, there are so many issues older people have to overcome when it comes to dating. Any advice re this would be appreciated.
My Dear Frustrated,
I understand the points that you’re making and why you feel so frustrated. And I’m sure this is something that other women in their 40’s who are dating may feel too. It can be more challenging to date later in life.
You mentioned that it’s harder to meet a man who wants to settle down (often after a previous marriage). With the journey of life there can come some baggage so often older men or women may have been previously married or may already have kids. Sometimes if they’ve had a family and a contentious divorce they may be less likely to jump right into another long-term committed relationship or marriage. Given time to heal their wounds and with various means of support, they may be ready for a healthy and sustaining relationship again. They may have learned from the previous relationship and are now clear about what they want next. You may come across some dates that are jaded and are not open to love but you can look for the ones who are and who are wiser from their past experiences.
You also mentioned that many men seem deeply troubled because of high-pressure careers or lousy marriages and are more rigid as they age. People can become more rigid as they age so it’s important not to think that you are going to change them. One of the boons of maturity is the acceptance of yourself and others. So, know what you’re willing to accept and what would not work for you in a relationship and don’t go in hoping to change the man.
You asked how an older woman can get to know a man without jumping into bed after a first or even second encounter. I advise daters to know what sex means to them and to act accordingly, despite what the ‘average dater’ might be doing. Although the average dater sleeps with someone on the third date, you may choose to wait several months and the right person will respect this. Some daters just want to have sex for fun; others will do so only in an exclusive relationship, some just in a serious committed long-term relationship and others when they’re in love. The key is to know you and not to assume that other person feels the same. Have a discussion about sex and make it clear how you feel and what you need. Although you may fear that it’s immature to wait, maturity means knowing works best for you and acting accordingly. Some dates may walk away but others will stick around. And sometimes older men are more willing to wait and are less driven by sex.
Other external obstacles may include that many women in their 40s may not be able to bear children and some men may still want to start a family later in life. Get clear about your willingness to adopt or to be a stepmom, should this issue arise. If you’re clear you don’t want kids, you can share this early on.
There are also some internal things to consider. You can only control yourself when dating. So, my advice is to work on making your own dating mindset positive. Have confidence in your value and worth regardless of your age. Work on having positive self-talk, taking regular action to meet people and knowing that it only takes one great person to make a match. There are so many exceptions to the above challenges and sometimes the issues are not so polarized between men and women.
If you’re on the market at age 40, there are many reasons that a great man could be too– including being a widow or not having met the right person yet. So, hold yourself accountable to maintain positive expectations regarding dating and finding a mate and find concrete ways to keep putting yourself out there. Write prospects on dating sites and go to events and on fix-ups. Continue to practice self-care and self-love. Nurture your support network and continue to enjoy the other aspects of your life while you are dating, to help you through those periods of rejection and frustration. Find role models of people who have successfully dated and met their spouse in their mid-forties.
I have had several clients successfully do so and they even got pregnant after marrying. So, it is possible and does happen, despite often being more challenging. I hope that provides you with some hope and realistic inspiration.
My Best in Love,
Have a question for Dr. Pauletter?
Leave a comment below or email her at [email protected].