I read an amusing meme the other day which said the following…
Dating after 30 is easy, it’s like riding a bike. But the bike is on fire, and the ground is on fire. Everything is on fire, because you are in hell.
Imagine then what it’s like when you’re over 40, or 50, or more…
What with all the dos and the don’ts, the dating sites and the apps, the rules and the unasked for advice, the scams and the narcissists, the liars and the manipulators, the time wasters and the players, the damaged and the deranged, the vulnerable and the ever hopeful – it really is a zoo out there.
But caught up in all the detritus are the good people simply looking for other good people with whom to form a relationship. There’s no sure-fire shortcut, and as for luck, well…. .
Luck? Luck is hard work – and realising what is opportunity and what isn’t.
Dating doesn’t need to be hard. Finding a relationship – the right relationship – can feel hard. But if you do the work to become relationship ready, you’ll be in a good position to snap up the right opportunity while side-stepping the wrong one.
Keep a sense of humour and remember – when you’re truly relationship ready, it’s always them, not you 🙂
A dear friend of mine was known for her preference for toy boys (and hats off to her for challenging the status quo) but she had a rule that they couldn’t be below a certain age because, unless they’d lived a bit, they had no conversation 🙂 For attraction which is solely physical does not a relationship make. If you find them boring outside of the bedroom, they’re not the full package.
I’m not saying that it all needs to be terribly cerebral and high-falutin – you just need to be able to talk to one another without needing to stifle a yawn. As with everything in life, it’s about knowing what you like, and finding it. Whether that’s discussing the footie and the latest work gossip, or Freud and Proust – the only issue is when you’re mis-matched.
Let me give you an unusual example: I know of one long-lasting marriage where the husband and wife are passionate about politics – while holding opposing views. They regularly have loud and public political disagreements, only to go home together happily, as much in love as they ever were. For them, someone who doesn’t care about politics would be an anathema, whereas it’s entirely possible to accommodate differing views.
I’m fortunate because it doesn’t matter to me what you like to talk about, if you’re knowledgeable and passionate (or witty and amusing), I’m interested. The only people I struggle with are those who consistently complain of boredom – and do nothing to relieve it.
But what about you? Could you love someone despite them having a passion for something arcane and dull? Do you need them to be actively involved in your hobbies and interests, or do you prefer it if you both get to do your own thing? Finding your partner’s interests boring is not the death knell, finding them boring almost certainly will be.
If you need to be mentally stimulated, then focus your search on a man with a good brain, but understand that there are a significant number of men who are uncomfortable with clever and successful women. Do I have views on that subject? Absolutely! But I chose not to waste my time – and to regard it as just another filter to be applied in the selection process.
Decide what you like – and what you don’t. Then apply your filters. Do not waste your time with those who don’t match you, let alone those who are not worthy of you, your time and your attention.
How large a part does mental stimulation play in your relationships – be they romantic or platonic?
When you’re seeking a new relationship in your mature years, one undeniable fact is that everyone has a past. Most of us would state with a degree of certainty that we’re ready to get into a new relationship when we start dating…. yet it’s rare there’s absolutely no unresolved past stuff. Today, the unresolved past stuff I’m going to focus is the Ex – for we all have one.
There’s a lot of wisdom out there about how long it takes to get over someone – anything from 21 days (which is when you may start to get used to their absence) to 18 months in order to recover from a divorce. I’ve previously seen suggestions of a certain number of weeks for every year you were together. But the truth of the matter is that there’s no set equation, for grieving is an entirely individual experience.
The emotions when you’re the wounded party in any split are obvious but, even if you initiated the ending, there will still be emotions – distress and disappointment that something you’ve given time and energy to didn’t work out, and the loss of that shared future you’d allowed yourself to visualise. And that’s before you consider the impact of losing someone you loved through death.
When the person you’ve lost has died, it can be difficult to deal with the expectation that you’ll move on. But there’s no need to move on – you can simply choose to move forward. For you will always have your memories, ones you’ll doubtless cherish, but you can choose to keep living – as they would have wanted you to. Just take the time to grieve their loss properly.
When you have unresolved emotions, you can choose to tough it out alone, to talk it through with friends or family, to take advantage of professional support – there are many ways to to process your feelings. The only wrong way is to to lie to yourself (and so to others) that you’re fine, because you’ve put those emotions in a box so you don’t have to face them. Why is it wrong? Because those messy emotions will burst out of that box, and spill all over you and anyone else you’ve become involved with in the interim.
In order to form a healthy relationship – not one of those “I’ll show ’em” via the medium of social media – whatever happened in your past has to faced, resolved and healed if need be. If you’re not there yet, you’re not ready to be dating – at least, not without providing a health warning to any potential future partners. This is why it’s so important to have the “what are you looking for” conversation. If there’s anything lurking from the past, it’s likely that they’ll not be actively looking for anything serious or long-term… because they’re just not ready yet.
And if anyone alludes to their ex being crazy – be wary. Imagine for a moment how you’d feel if they were talking about you. Check them for clues as to the feelings behind those words – the tone of their voice, the emotion you see in their eyes and on their face, what you observe in their body language. Unless we’re talking actual sectioning, or Basic Instinct-like bunny boiler behaviour…. be very wary indeed.
Do you think it’s healthy to maintain a friendship with an Ex, even when there’s no children involved?
There are many questions you’ll ask yourself – whoever you are – once you step into the world of dating, it’s just that the question of when seems like a bigger question than the rest, if you’re seeking a relationship in your mature years. You feel like you’re on the clock, and you worry about the impact of having fallen into the pit of invisibility which happens once you turn 50.
So, asking the questions….
when will I meet the right person for me?
when will I have my ideal relationship?
…. is not just valid, but entirely normal and to be expected.
The truthful answer is I don’t know, nor can I give you any form of cast iron guarantee – indeed, no-one can – unless you know someone who’s found a way to foretell the future 😉 For the only things anyone can control – not only in this scenario, but in life – are ourselves, our actions and reactions – but choosing to take control of those aspects can have a huge impact on answering the question of when.
Imagine, if instead of….
scatter-gun dating, you take the time to hone exactly who the right person for you is – then rather than wasting time with the wrong person, you remain available to meet the right person.
doing what you’ve always done, you take the time to review what worked, what didn’t, and why – so you’ll avoid wasting time repeating past mistakes, and remain available to meet the right person.
taking your poor self-worth back out there again, you take some time out to build your self-worth back up, to heal some of those past hurts, and to remind yourself just how fabulous you are – then you’ll be able sidestep the wrong person for you, remaining in the game so the your right person can find you.
Let me remind you that the sight of you having a fabulous life is the best way to be attractive to your right person. That not trying too hard makes you attractive to everyone (including some of the wrong people, so you’ll need to keep those filters active).
The best relationships are formed between people who are content with themselves and the lives they have, because they’re only looking for the cherry on top, rather than making another person responsible for making them happy.
In my circle of mature female dating friends was one such wise woman. She knew her worth, she knew what she was looking for, she maintained her boundaries with anyone who didn’t meet her criteria, she stayed in the game and she waited. And while she waited, she focused on living a full & happy life. Did she meet her right person? Why yes, yes she did – and they’re now happily married. If you asked her if the wait was worth it, I don’t doubt her answer would be a resolute and loud yes 🙂
What questions do you ask yourself when you’re trying to make a decision?
Values come in all shapes and sizes, they can be both altruistic and self-focused – but it is vital we own them and prioritise them in seeking a mate.
What do I mean by Values? Values are the things that are important to you – principles, morals, things which motivate you or guide your decision making – and they’re often expressed as abstract nouns.
You may prioritise different values in different aspects of your life – for example at work, your top values may be professionalism and leadership, while as a member of society your top values may be ecology and equality. In the same way you’ll have personal values, some of which will be specific to your relationships.
Let me give you some examples….
If honesty is the top of your value list – how long would a relationship with someone whose first instinct is to tell an untruth to get out of trouble last?
If financial security is a top value – could you honestly live with someone who was entirely happy-go-lucky about bill paying and debt?
If you prioritise ecological living and treading lightly on the planet – how would that impact on you having a relationship with someone who runs high performance cars and a private jet?
If you’re a thrill seeker and party animal – could a relationship with someone who’s an introverted home body work?
There are plenty of more mundane examples but the key thing is that when you live a life that doesn’t align with your values, it makes you unhappy, it affects your stress levels, and it’s likely to have an impact on your feelings of self-worth, self-esteem and self-respect.
So, do you know what your top values are? You know what I’m going to say – make a list! Make it as long as you like to start, you can always cut it down later by eliminating any which overlap, or by prioritising a few. If you’re genuinely stuck for ideas, try Pinterest.
Values matter. Get clear on yours first, then seek someone whose values match yours.
What Values do you think are important in relationships – any kind of relationship, whether that be professional, friendship or romance?
When I re-dipped my toe into the world of dating at the grand old age of 50, I was not what you’d call an obvious catch – grey, overweight, with a mumsy dress sense, and decidedly lacking in confidence and self-worth. So, I spent time casting about for inspiration and advice, which is how I fell across Gok Wan’s book How to Look Good Naked. Now I know many people find him intensely annoying, but he was just what I needed at the time. I’ve often said that I’d never have had sex again if I’d not read his book – that’s how life changing it proved to be for me.
Gok provided practical tips, but also knew how to boost confidence, because he’d come from a background of low self-esteem himself. Among his many practical tips was the one about good underwear. The British have long had a love affair with Marks & Spencer for their every day underwear – a practical, pragmatic choice – unlike the French. In short, Gok encouraged us to be more French in our selection of underwear – pretty, enhancing, matching where possible.
Not one for false impressions, I refused to consider control pants and push-em-up bras, but I did start to build up a few sets of comfortable yet beautiful underwear. Yes, they were expensive – but I learned to regard them as an investment in myself and my self-esteem. I didn’t wear them every day – they were far too expensive for that – but I did wear them every time I went on a date. On one occasion, when a date was cancelled last minute, I headed out to my local pub to join a group of friends while still wearing my good underwear. Despite these being my good friends with whom I felt confident, comfortable and loved – it was noticed that I held myself differently, that I had a certain something about me. I smiled to myself, for I got that certain something from the knowledge that I was wearing fabulous matching underwear.
You can see why the Dita von Teese quote leapt out at me can’t you – for it’s never about wearing wonderful underwear in order to be ready for the great unveiling, it’s about making myself a priority, about feeling confident and sexy and womanly. It’s about knowing – without a shadow of a doubt – that I was the Prize and they’d be lucky to have me. That’s the value of great underwear. If you don’t already have these items in your wardrobe – go get shopping!
Do you have items in your wardrobe which you love and give your confident a boost – be that a lucky dress, shoes, or…?
I’m guessing we’ve all heard the one about the third date, before which – as a woman – one must not engage in sexual congress unless you want to be judged. I’ve promised myself I will not rant on this topic, so I’ll limit myself to the following….
There are legions of women who’ve broken the rule and are happily married to their perfect man, sadly there are even more legions of women who’ve been judged, which makes this a topic that still needs to be addressed. You could look at it as a way to weed out the wheat from the chaff – in that any man who judges you negatively for breaking the rule isn’t a man you’d want any more to do with. Or, if you’d be in danger of having your sense of self-worth worn down by the constant judgement, then it may prove safer to stick with the rule and let them show you first that they are worthy.
The Rules – the book that is – has now been updated for the modern, digital era. I’ll hold up my hand and admit I’ve not read the updated version (yet) but they were originally about how to ‘capture the heart of Mr Right’ by a process of manipulation. A few of the rules had some merit, but it was the dishonesty of being other than yourself in order to entrap a man which I couldn’t get on board with. As someone who’s always valued authenticity, advocating that you have to pretend to be something you’re not in order to capture a man’s heart, will never sit well with me. There are other – more modern – offerings such as Why Men Love Bitches and He’s Just Not That Into You, which tread a similar same path. By all means, dip in and select any advice which may prove beneficial, but do please ensure you remain the wonderfully authentic woman you are and have always been.
For the only rules you truly need are your own. What type of behaviour sits right with you – in you and a potential mate? How do you want him to treat you, and to treat others? How do you feel about whether he has his phone in his hand or in his pocket? How will you want a suggestion of something sexual to be made? Do you want to discuss exclusivity first? What form do you want contact to take – regular calls, texts and messages – or not? Do you want access to their social media to check they’re who they purport to be?
Decide on your rules – and then make sure you keep them…. or only break them with aforethought and for a really good reason 🙂
Have you ever read The Rules, or any other dating/relationship books? What rules do you have, or would you advocate?
The quotation I’ve chosen is from a man who plays American football. A big guy, well able to take care of himself, yet this is how he describes safety. He’s able to see past his own point-of-view and understand that yours is different. And that’s important. We all have different learned experiences, and we adjust our behaviour accordingly. So I’m not going to insult your intelligence by telling you how to stay safe.
But here are a few scenarios you could might encounter in the dating world….
Scammers are at the top of everyone’s list. In short, if anyone asks you for money, no matter how heartrending the story, it’s a scam. Say no & cut off communication.
The ordinary stuff is fake profiles and these have a purpose beyond intent to scam – there’s also who use dating sites to relieve boredom, married people seeking a shag, and those who simply tell untruths. Old pictures, lies about relationship status, age, body type/size, height, whether they drink or smoke etc, etc, etc. There is plenty of advice online, such as how to carry out a reverse image search on google. Common fake profiles purport to be military or medical, and they’re now even all over social media. Just ensure you’re not looking through rose coloured lenses and keep your wits about you.
Narcissists are a particular danger – see my previous post about Love Bombers – and, again, there’s plenty of information online about how to identify them. Be especially careful about narcissists, as they’re masters at reeling a person back in. Cut off communication & block, block, block.
But one surprising category I came across was those who have the financial wherewithal to use premium (paid for) dating sites – the normal domain of the serious dater – for amusement. I’ve called this practice Shooting fish in a Barrel because the person I met who told me about his preferred site for this practice, described the plentiful supply of victims he found there as shooting fish in a barrel. I’ll be honest, until that point, he’d triggered absolutely no alarms – and I was well experienced in the dating world by this time. On the surface, he appeared to be the ideal date – yet his preferred sport was to mess around with women who were looking for serious relationships. It’s possible that with more time spent together, the alarm bells may have started to tinkle, but as he outed himself willingly, all I had to do was listen and believe what I heard.
You don’t have to act as if everyone is out to get you. Just be aware, keep your wits about you, and when they tell you who they are, believe them.
Any other advice to share for those dipping a toe into the world or dating, or seeking a new relationship?
How high on your list of requirements is respect? Not just his for you, but yours for him. This poem says it better than I on the big stuff….
If we can not respect another How can we expect them to respect us If we can not respect someone’s beliefs How can we expect them to respect ours If we can not respect another’s race How can be expect that race to respect us If we can not respect others How can we expect respect in return
In practical terms, we’ll start this with his for you.
Of course you want to be respected – what sane person wouldn’t? The sad answer is a person who’s lacking in self-worth is likely to have doubts about whether they’re worthy of respect – and that’s how abusive relationships happen. Once again, I return to my opening statement that It’s All About You. In order to be respected, you must respect yourself first. In a long list of selfs – self-respect is key, for without it, you leave yourself open to not only not being disrespected, but being abused.
Now let’s switch to yours for him….
OK, so you fancy him rotten, but do you respect him? What do you think about what he does for a living, about his intellect, his thought process, how be treats other people? What aspect must be present in him for you to feel respect. Go on, put them in order – and don’t limit yourself to my suggestions.
Now let me tell you a story. I’m a sapiosexual – attracted to intellect. I have dated clever men and not so clever men – and I hugely prefer the former. Some of those clever men had high earning jobs, some did not. But In the end, it was other qualities in those men which made the difference. I came to realise that what a man does for a living doesn’t ultimately matter – to me – as much as the combination of their big brain with certain personal qualities. And that surprised me. For I’d previously placed what a man does for a living high up my list of priorities.
If how he puts treats other people is top of your list, then how he behaves towards those in the service industry – waiting staff for example – will allow you to see quickly and clearly who he is. I was somewhat taken aback when a man selected and ordered my wine on a first date. When I asked to change my glass to red wine, he demonstrated his displeasure by being rude and dismissive to the waiter, ultimately refusing to leave a tip. As we’d agreed, up front, to split the bill and he’d chosen the restaurant, that wasn’t a factor. I went back, apologised to the waiter, and left one myself. He wasn’t surprised I didn’t want a second date, because when I lose respect for someone, it’s hard to keep it hidden.
Get clear on what it takes for you to respect him, question and challenge yourself with what-if scenarios to be absolutely sure.
What behaviour or beliefs would cause you to lose respect for a person?
Obviously I’m going to hark back to my It’s All About You mantra and remind you that the first questions to ask are the ones to ask yourself. Once you’ve got the answers to your questions, then the questions you should ask him are the ones which will enable you to identify whether your potential date meets your criteria.
I could stop this post right there 😉 but let me I’ll elaborate.
Obviously I don’t intend that you should attend your first date with a clipboard and lengthy questionnaire – at least I hope that’s obvious 😉 But, where do you start?
I’d generally not be willing to leave the house until after I’d received satisfactory answers on my non-negotiables – otherwise there’s the risk of being caught up in a series of utterly pointless first dates, turning dating into a relentless grind. And as I’m all about you not wasting your valuable energy and time, that would be my advice. You may prefer to take that step face-to-face, but do consider re-evaluating that decision if you start feeling drained by the process.
If the initial non-negotiables criteria is met, you can move on to the other items on your carefully honed list. It’s best you don’t engage in firing out question after question, mix it up, have a conversation. It’s easy to prepare a carefully crafted answer to an expected question, but people relax during a conversation and stuff gets said which will provide you with the answer to your question – you just have to listen.
How about finding out what they’re looking for? I know it may feel uncool to ask, but how much time are you prepared to waste on someone who wants something different to you? Hindsight taught me quite how much time I wasted with those who were all “I’m just going with the flow”. Of course, if going with the flow is what you want, then you’ve struck gold – but if you’re after a serious relationship, then it’s time to say “lovely to meet you” and move on. That “what are you looking for” question is one I believe is important to see answered face-to-face. Tone of voice, facial expression and body language can tell you a lot, even if the words don’t.
Remember, you are The Prize – you’re allowed to be fussy and it’s absolutely OK to insist on having your standards met. Why on earth would you want to spend the rest of your life with someone you can’t respect and who doesn’t see your true worth? There are some matters where compromise is both right and necessary, but not your key requirements – on those, you stick to your guns!
Have you ever been asked any unusual or funny questions during dates? Do you have a favourite question you like to ask?