Picture this: It’s 4:30. You’re just getting home from work. You still have to pick up your two older children from middle and high school, go to the grocery store, make dinner, help your kids with their homework, finish up some assignments from your own job, pay the bills, feed the cat and walk the dog. All the while trying to get into bed at a reasonable hour because you have to get up in the morning and go to work yourself. Who has time for dating?
These are exactly some of the issues specific to women over 40 are dealing with when it comes to the dating world, whether you are divorced, widowed, or have never been married. Some of these things are unique situations that you thought you’d never be facing. Issues such as time for dating, finding dates, children and exes, social norms, and most important of all, trust.
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Dating: Who Has the Time?
A lot of these situations stem from the fact that you have got it together, and therefore don’t have a lot of time to devote to a newly developing relationship. This is fortunate for you, but unfortunately it is probably the case that your social circles don’t have a lot of single people in them. Because of this you must be proactive, and actively seek out dates. This brings up the issue of time. How do you find time to do it? Singles groups, dances and dating services all take up a huge chunk of your valuable time and energy. One solution is the internet. You can do it at home in your pajamas. There are a plethora of dating websites out there you might see advertised. Try it, and have fun, but do be careful. Things aren’t always as they seem. People often exaggerate good characteristics and downplay the bad. Also, sometimes you may find someone who looks great on paper, but when you meet there is absolutely no chemistry between the two of you. This can be disappointing, so be prepared for it.
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Be Conscious of Your Kids
One of the most obvious issues for women over 40 is the area of children. Of course not everyone has been married or has children, but for a large portion of older women, these are very real issues. Regardless of your childrens’ ages, you must do everything to make sure they are comfortable. Do they like the person, and are they comfortable around them? Has enough time passed since you and your spouse were last together? When do you bring this person home to spend the night? How long do you wait to do so? With a little discretion, these issues can be dealt with successfully. One solution is to bring your date home when the children are not present (at your spouse’s perhaps for visitation?) or to only go to that person’s home, so that your children are not aware of what is “really” going on.
Throw Social “Norms” to the Wayside
Also many social “norms” (assumptions) may make you feel a lot of pressure that man you are with around your children has to be your husband. If this is the case, just relax. If everyone is comfortable and happy, who cares what anyone thinks? If there are a couple of raised eyebrows when your children call your date by his first name instead of “Daddy,” then so what? People are usually so wrapped up in their own lives, that they’re not paying attention to yours anyway. Keep this in mind, it can help take off some of the pressure.
Send Emotional Baggage Packing
Along with the issue of children comes the “ex,” a very touchy subject for most people. Whether you were married or in a long-term relationship or not, we all have emotional baggage. When a prospective date has an ex, you may wonder, “Why did they get divorced?” If they are, let’s say, fifty years old and have never been married, you may wonder why. And if the person is a widower, you may wonder if they are really over their deceased spouse. In order to deal with emotional baggage, you must be open-minded. Be ready to listen. There are two sides to every story, and what you learn may surprise you. Also, sharing information about yourself can help you feel closer to your date.
Trust is (almost) Everything
But also be careful to not share too much too soon. You may find that you have to hold yourself back a little, but this is normal, so don’t worry. Dating brings about many new emotions that you may not have felt in a long time, and ironically just as you did when you were a teenager, you may have to reign in your feelings. Which brings the issue of trust. Elaine Hernandez, a 46 year-old fifth-grade teacher describes a situation in which a man approached her at a singles dance. She later found out he was married. When she asked him, “How could you disrespect your wife so badly?” he replied that there were many men at the dance that evening who were still married. Keep in mind that trust is mutual, and has to be earned. Treat everyone as if they are suspect, until they prove themselves otherwise.
Although dating for over 40 women may seem intimidating, it’s really not. There are many advantages women over 40 have over others. For one thing, at forty most women are more secure with themselves and more in touch with their sensuality than younger women. So be confident, the competition may seem fierce but you have your own unique status that sets you apart and makes you attractive. Also the men you are dating are usually older and more comfortable with themselves as well, and probably are more mature. Keep an open mind, a sense of humor, and most of all, be yourself! After all, you want the person you fall in love with to love you, the real you, who is this wonderful person you have spent all this time cultivating. Keep these positive things in mind as you head into the exciting world of dating.