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Dating after 40 Rules

Things to do when you're 40 and single...

Are you over 40 and in a dating rut? Fifty and can’t find a date? Sixty and alone? If I’ve just described you, then you know how difficult it is to navigate the crazy world of dating once you’ve reached this stage in your life. Add the difficulties that everyday life presents, and dating becomes more of a chore than a pleasure. Simply put, dating just isn’t as easy as it was when you were younger. But, if you’re willing to step outside of your comfort zone, dating can be an exciting adventure. Aside from searching for love, there are so many ways to relish being single in your 30s and 40s: investing quality time into your platonic relationships, indulging in much needed solo reflection, practicing self-care by way of spontaneous matinees or days devoted to pampering, and diving deep into your career journey. Loving and being comfortable with yourself on your own is likely the best homework you can do if you're eventually looking to step into the dating world. And when you are ready to meet potential partners, a slew of dating apps will be there in order to make meeting people just a little easier. However, it is a truth that has been universally acknowledged that a single, attractive, heterosexual woman over the age of 40 must be in need of a man—or so, Carrie Bradshaw would have you believe; and she is mostly right. But for many women, the key word is “want” rather than need. We all have fulfilling careers, lots of good friends and interesting lives. As independent women, we’ve waited a long time to focus on settling down, and now we’re facing a somewhat distressing fact of life: Once you’re over 40, there is a diminished pool of men to choose from.

However, we have figured out – and accepted – that the right man will not just magically appear when you’re ready for him. You have to work hard to find someone you really want and really like (or someone normal, because those are in short supply). Despite the ease that dating apps supply, the search for love is a journey, and along the way you are bound to learn a few things about love, yourself and the society we live in.

It’s no lie that everyone knows a lot of fabulous single women in their 40’s, but that statement can hardly ring true regarding men. In the society we live in now, it’s hard for African American women to think of any equally fabulous single man in the same age range. This, of course, is one of life’s biggest mysteries and sometimes the key to unlocking it lies within branching out. Everyone knows that the prized things in life come while stepping outside of our comfort zones, so the key to opening yourself up to finding love is within identifying the right places to look. But let’s all remember the famous saying, “we fall in love” we do not go searching for it.

Although dating in the 21st century is different from how it was 20+ year ago, there are still many positives to dating after 40. The most important thing to remember is that you’ve lived and learned, and you have built up your own financial independence so don’t hide who you are, what you look like or what your current situation is. You want to put your best self forward and make sure it’s the real you, not just something you think the opposite sex will be impressed with. Whether you have one child or eight, be open and honest with that information. You want a man who loves you for you, so do not limit yourself to men in your age group. Not to feed the cougar cliché, but by the time you reach 40, the social stigma of dating younger men is so passé. In many cases, younger men really don’t care much about age differences. And since you’re done with the race to beat the biological clock, you can date who you want, when you want, for as long as they are interesting to you.

We are all in agreement that starting over in the dating world is never easy. Starting over when you’re old enough to be a grandparent and Medicare is your primary insurance—that can be downright terrifying. Maybe you've had your fair share of frustration, rejection, and heartache, but while you can't erase your past, you can certainly learn from it. It's not just that you know yourself and what works and doesn't work in relationships, it's that by the time you reach your 40s, you've probably felt "the magic of love," you've felt it before, you can and will feel it again. The emotional brain is seemingly void of chronological age or time. We can and do fall in love at any age.

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by Kayla McCullough