Many people I work with always tell me that they feel it gets tougher to date as one gets older. There can be some truth to this as we tend to get into a routine lifestyle or ‘set in our ways’ as it is commonly known. This can be perceived that we are inflexible, not willing to change or compromise. Also our social circles change over time as we are not necessarily socialising in ways that we used to do when we were younger (i.e. clubbing and pubbing) so are less exposed to environments where we can meet other like-minded/single people.
Here are some of the pro’s and con’s you need to know about dating in this stage of life:
- We are more comfortable in our own skin, know what we want and are not prepared to put up with ‘nonsense’, in other words we’re not into playing games.
- People at this age group have generally been in a serious committed relationship of some sort so there is a good probability of them having ‘baggage’ i.e. children, divorcee etc.
- We are creatures of habit and move in the same social circles so don’t really get to meet new/different people that could be potential partners.
- We tend to hide behind TV (Netflix/series binging, social media platforms) and not put ourselves out there for fear of rejection.
- We lose sense of who we are and what makes us happy often feeling lonely which can lead to desperation and in extreme cases depression or suicidal thoughts
- With the numerous online dating platforms available these days, we are spoilt for choice as to how we can meet people however at some point you are going to need to meet face-to-face to determine the real chemistry and attraction.
- Dating someone older/younger than you can mean you are in different life-stages and this can cause friction (e.g. the younger partner wants to socialise while the older partner is content to be homebody, or the one wants to start a family and the older one already has children).
- Financial earnings could be disproportionate according to life-stage/career path which can cause friction or unrealistic expectations in terms of financial contributions and lifestyles.
- The physical side of your relationship may not be in sync due to age differences (e.g. low libido, comfortable lifestyle etc)
- What your own perceptions and stigmas are when it comes to dating someone older/young than you – do you have hang ups about it or is age just a number?
So what are some of the dating do’s and don’ts you need to know?
- Know who you are, what makes you tick and what you are looking for in a life partner – if you don’t know what you are looking for how will you recognise it when it arrives? This also gives you a clear idea of what you don’t want.
- Know your relationship deal breakers and boundaries – otherwise we end up compromising ourselves and being in situations/relationships that are not necessarily a positive.
- With online dating, people have different agendas/reasons for being on dating platforms (e.g. hook-ups/just having fun) – be aware of your and their agendas as to why you are in the that space and how you are going to make it work for you.
- Your personal safety is key whether you’re dating online or meeting someone – always trust your instinct, this includes sexual health risks too.
- You’re not going to meet anyone sitting at home, you need to put yourself out there – be open to trying new things and going to new places.
In any relationship, a key ingredient is managing expectations:
- Have realistic expectations – if they are too high, no one will ever be able to match up to them and you will forever be moving from one relationship to the next.
- Remember – there is no such thing as the perfect person or perfect partner and everyone has baggage – rather it’s about how perfect you can be for each other.
- Be open to contributing to the relationship in different ways e.g. financial, life experiences, sexual experiences etc
Dating can be fun as you move into your next life stage:
- If you have an open mind and are willing to explore outside your comfort zones, go to new places, meet new people and have adventure along the way, then there is no reason why you can’t be having fun at the same time.
A version of this article also appeared on W24.co.za
Paula Quinsee: Relationship Expert, Tedx speaker and author of Embracing Conflict and Embracing No. Paula teaches individuals and organisations tools and skills to immediately and positively enhance the quality of their personal and professional relationships. She was a consultant to SA TV show “Married at first Sight”, conducts monthly workshops, and hosted podcasts for Niche Radio and UK Health Radio. More info: https://paulaquinsee.com/