Dating After Forty, Part One

The dust has settled, the kids’ schedule is (hopefully) reasonably under control, you’ve figured out how you are going to feed and house them, and now you have had time to stop, breathe, and realize that you’re feeling lonely.

It may have been a relatively short time since divorce or death left you alone, or it may have been decades. Regardless, once you decide it is time to foray out into the dating world again, it can be an extremely daunting situation.

boat on lonely beach

The dust has settled, and now you are lonely

Chances are, you no longer have the flexibility you had in your twenties, either in your time or in your inclinations. You know what you like, but it might not be that easy to find. You may feel that “the good ones are all taken”.  They probably aren’t, but how are you going to find that needle in the proverbial haystack?  Or maybe you know what you did wrong in the past, and now you are determined to do better – but how? Do you need to unlearn everything you used to do? How do you keep yourself from falling into old, destructive patterns?

Also, if it’s been over five years since you last dated, things have changed beyond belief. Everyone is online, everyone has a smartphone. The etiquette of dating is now completely different from what it used to be, although the basic values of decency and compassion are still there, maybe just hidden a little deeper under the surface.

If you plunge into the online dating scene, it can be a truly surreal experience. What should you put in your profile? How much credence should you give the profiles of others? Everyone is putting their best face forward, as they always did, but now they might be putting up somebody else’s face altogether. How do you know? How do you decide who is worthy of a face-to-face meeting, and who is really a creepy axe murderer?

If you go the traditional face-to-face route, then you need to get out and find compatible people. If your previous modus operandi involved bars, parties and loud music, is that still the way you want to go? Whom will you find if you do?

There are other places to look, of course. Work is by far the most convenient, and the most dangerous. Workplace romances gone sour are bad enough for young people, but if you have put twenty years into your career, only to see it go down the tubes because of your indiscretion, it becomes truly painful. Stay away from your colleagues, especially the married ones.

Also, do you or your prospective new partner have kids? How do they view this possible change in their lives?  Teenagers are not known for their openness and acceptance of their parents as sexual beings.

Despairing yet? Don’t be! Stay tuned for part 2 of this series, in which we will explore some possible answers to these painful questions.

Photo credit: Shutterstock.
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I'm a writer, editor, blogger and the Queen of Re-Invention. I've been a research scientist, a university instructor and a high school teacher. I was born in Israel, raised partly in the United States, educated in the Netherlands, and am now busy raising three amazing people in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.