All the Reasons Why Dating in Your 40s is the Best

Couple discovering dating in their 40s

Dating isn’t just a young person’s game. Dating is a journey and it’s different for everyone. Sure, dating in your 40s means you’re not making out under the bleachers anymore, but that doesn’t mean you’re not going to have fun. And experience.

Here’s why dating in your 40s is the absolute best. 

You’re More Empathetic

You’ve been through some things. You’ve had some heartbreaks, a few stories, and a few learning experiences. And not just in dating. Work and family issues have a play in your maturity as well.

Whatever the case, you get it. You’ve learned how the world works and can meet people where they’re at in life. They can be more honest, and you both can have deeper conversations. And if they need a shoulder to cry on, they know they can count on you. 

You Know What You Can Put Up With (And What You Can’t)

By the time you reach 40, you’ve probably seen your fair share. Some of those relationships were probably great. Others, not so much You can tell miscommunication and frustration from real, deeper issues. In other words, you know when to call BS. Your partner is controlling? BS. You can’t get a word in? BS. 

You’re at a point in your life when you feel more confident in your ability to define what you want a relationship to be. And you know that you have the power to walk away if it’s not what you need it to be.

You’re Straight up About What You Want

If you’re 40 and want kids or a spouse, you can say that. Relationships are about compromise, but finding a good relationship partner is about being with someone who agrees on the non-negotiables. Age means understanding yourself. You know what you want from your partner. And people you date know what they want as well.

Confidence Comes With Age

Remember in your 20s, it took all your friends to convince you to message that guy? Well, you’ve done that already. Many times, probably. So now, the fear is gone. If you want to talk to somebody, you do it. You want to ask somebody to be serious, casual, or anything in between, you just do.

Rejection sucks, but when you’ve been rejected many times you learn to recover more quickly. You know the secret is just getting back on the horse. You also know rejection doesn’t mean anything other than that person said no. 

You Have Better Taste

In your 20s, you put up with a lot more trash than you do now. You thought negging was cute or all guys use picked up lines. Now, you know better. When someone is nice, down-to-earth, and fun, you know they’re a good pick. 

If someone’s an ass, you don’t give them the time of day. You don’t waste energy trying to convince anyone you’re cool. 

All ages present dating difficulties. I won’t lie to you about that. And dating at every age is also fun. That said, nobody likes BS. And that is why dating in your 40s is the best.

The Thrill of Dating in Your 40’s—and Beyond

Being single at forty is often portrayed in the wider media with humor or pity, and rarely reflects the reality that single women at goop in their forties have found: Dating is still (or even more) fun, there are more options in terms of partners than there were in the world without dating apps, and, well—there’s nothing more humorous or pitiable about dating in your forties than dating in your twenties. Life advisor and relationship expert Suzannah Galland works with many single women in their forties (and above); her work centers around reframing clients’ perceptions to help them realize their actual desires, allow themselves to enjoy the pleasure of dating, and attract people who bring them more joy. Below, her refreshing perspective and advice for all ages on figuring out what it is you’re really looking for when you’re dating.

In Your 40’s, Follow Your True Desire

by Suzannah Galland

Dating should be fun: The thrill of waking up next to a new lover—feeling their soft breath against your body—is fantastic at any age. But dating at forty-plus is too often cast in a sad light by the media, so for some, the thought of being single and forty (or older) brings to mind what one doesn’t have, or is losing, as opposed to what you do have—or are even gaining.

But what I’ve found with my clients is that being single “later in life” can be really glamorous in some ways: For many, there’s a freedom that hits at some point in your forties. Whereas more women in their twenties and thirties are looking for a partner to have children with, this becomes less the case as we get older. What many of my clients are looking for in their forties and beyond is love and/or simply fun, often less-freighted by needs surrounding building a family, financial stability, etc. Another benefit of dating at forty is that you have the confidence that comes with experience. I see a difference in how women in their forties walk into a room, the way they can make heads turn and pulses race. It’s a radiance, a power from within. Call it a sexual glow, or just plain sex appeal. Whatever it is, it’s alluring.

“Being single ‘later in life’ can be really glamorous.”

Still, you might think, the on-again, off-again dating game is overwhelming—which is true, it can be, at any age. For many of my single clients, examining and re-setting their fears and intentions around dating helps them to find enjoyment in it that they might not have felt before. What we project and how we attract others has everything to with what’s buried beneath, whether curiosity or fear. Dating can be both perplexing and hair-raising. But it can be wildly exciting, too.

I sometimes use word association techniques with clients to bring awareness to the role that perception plays in their dating life—it illuminates how vital it is to check in with yourself.

Coral, forty-two, explained that dating had left her feeling abandoned. She felt manipulated to please her (male) partners, and felt overly needy herself. The first word that came to mind for her when I asked her to think of the word man was power. When I asked her to think of the word, woman? Soft. For Coral, this revealed how polarized she was going into dating and relationships.

Another client, Jennifer, age forty-six, described the people she was dating as shallow—players who valued looks over connection. Like Coral, Jennifer associated men with strong words (albeit negative ones like a$$hole). In contrast to Coral, though, Jennifer herself also identified with the word power. What Jennifer came to realize was that she liked to have control when dating and in relationships, and so, too, it seemed did the men whom she’d been involved with in the past. It was no wonder she demonized her exes—she didn’t perceive any harmony or balance when it came to dating.

A Word Association Trick

Imagine you’re flipping through a deck of cards—shuffling, shuffling, and then pulling out a card. On the front of the card is the subject you want to examine: selfdating, a particular someone’s name, etc. When you flip it over, there will be one word on the back. Close your eyes. Flip over the card. Open your eyes. What’s the word you see now? Say out loud the first thing that comes to mind.

For clients like Coral and Jennifer (and other clients like them), reflecting on how they view themselves helps balance their approach to dating. What you think, you project and, in turn, attract.

“We are pre-programmed to feel desire, to connect with others, to fall in love (and I don’t just mean one time, with one person).”

While this self-work can take many forms (from therapy to meditation, etc.), and can be difficult, it’s actually surprising how relatively straightforward it is for many to tap into the power of their own desires—and to harness that energy toward their dating experiences. We are pre-programmed to feel desire, to connect with others, to fall in love (and I don’t just mean one time, with one person). This doesn’t disappear with age.

When it comes to romance, we’re often enticed to follow fads or fit into social norms—to think of dating later in life as unnatural (there’s something wrong with me). Our drive for perfection can override our sense of self-worth, and obscure our desires, even to ourselves. Our desires can drive us at every age if we let them. The benefit of being guided by desire at forty, as opposed to twenty, is that you have more freedom, plus the wisdom of twenty more years of life to accompany you.SHARE:

Mastering Our Triggers

Psychotherapist Barry Michels has a tool for everything, including: how to overcome the worst parts of ourselves, how to regulate our thoughts, how to prepare for getting triggered, and how to make sense of and process our emotional wounds. On this video call with GP, Michels breaks down the three-point plan that his clients have been using during the COVID-19 crisis to cope with a sense of powerlessness, feelings of negativity, and the realities of being cooped up with family. (“You know I’m a specialist in denial,” says GP.) But the plan is about more than coping. It’s a guide to harnessing your potential, to finding unexpected opportunities for inspiration, to feeling grateful, and to being of service. Before they wrap the conversation, Michels works with GP’s shadow and shows you how to connect with the meaningful, necessary parts of yourself that you might be afraid to present to the world.

Watch it when you can and let us know how the tools work for you. Some of the highlights and things we are practicing:

Moving from anger and sadness to action.
“As soon as I turned the corner and realized that people needed me, I began to give more,” says Michels. “And I think that’s a key to recovering and dealing with the crisis. Which is: Human beings are at their best when there is an outflow of positive energy rather than looking for some kind of comfort or reassurance from the outside world. Because we experience ourselves as having something to give when we’re giving.”

Harnessing our potential and not losing our minds.
There are three things you can do to harness your potential. And conveniently, says Michels, regulating these three things—your thoughts, how you spend your time, and your media consumption—will help you not lose your mind. This involves various forms of self-mastery and overcoming the worst parts of yourself, says Michels. “How do you master your worst tendencies?” asks GP. Practice.

Regulating how we spend our time.
“Believe it or not, at some point, this crisis is going to be over,” Michels says. “And the people who are going to own the world at that point are the people who used their time productively now, during the crisis. Whatever it is you’ve ever wanted to do with your life, do it now. You’re never going to have this much time on your hands. Whether it’s writing a screenplay or working on a business plan or connecting with people you haven’t connected with in a long time. If you can’t think of anything you want to do, then just be of service. Check up on your neighbors. Give love and reassurance to the people around you.”

Regulating our thoughts.
“You have to regulate what you allow and disallow during this time,” Michels says. “For most people, they are allowing their minds to become just a cesspool of negativity.” This creates a compulsive, self-sabotaging, negative loop. Which we want to avoid. But…

It’s not that easy.
If you’ve ever tried to just substitute a positive thought for a negative thought, Michels says that you probably discovered a nasty little secret. “Negative thoughts have much more power than positive thoughts. That voice of doom in your head has tremendous power.”

Instead, Michels suggests creating an experience for yourself—of a universe that is constantly giving you things and supporting you in ways that you take for granted. The weird thing, Michels says, is that you don’t have to believe that there is something greater than you giving you things: “I learned this tool when I was an atheist. And I have taught it to many, many skeptics. It’s effective because it actually goes beyond what you believe into the realm of experience. If you can actually experience something greater than you, giving you things, then you can relax. And your mind can stop spinning without all the negativity.”

A tool for gratitude.
In advance of using the tool, think of some things you’re grateful for. Michels says he’s grateful for the way the human brain works (“it’s a miracle”), for the beauty in the world (seeing the Pacific Ocean, the stars at night, a rainbow), and music (what other force gets so inside of you and makes you want to move?).

When you are in a negative loop, close your eyes and follow these steps to be embraced by something greater than you. So even if shit is going down, you don’t have to get trapped in a negative headspace.

  1. Start by recounting specific things you are grateful for, internally. Don’t worry if it’s a slight struggle to come up with new things, says Michels. That’s part of the tool—your mind is working in new ways. Keep coming up with ideas and see if you can gradually get the feeling that there is much more to appreciate than you’re usually aware of.
  2. Feel your heart soften and open up, like a flower in the sun. Let the specific things you are grateful for gradually fade away. Sense the presence of a mysterious source giving you all those things. You don’t have to have a name for this source. You just have to feel it and receive what it’s giving to you.
  3. Feel that unknowable source of goodness draw near to you, like soft breath on your cheek. Feel your heart melting with thankfulness.
  4. Mark this moment in the back of your mind: This source of goodness is always with me, even if I’m no longer aware of it. It’s giving to me, boundlessly.

Regulating our media consumption (talk about ambition).
It’s of course good to stay informed, Michels says: “But staying informed takes five minutes.” You don’t need to spend all of your day checking the news.

Expect to get triggered by things we would normally drop.
“I don’t wake up and say, ‘I hope this is a great day, and I’m not going to get triggered,’” says Michels. “I say, ‘I’m going to get triggered. There’s no question.’” When you’re prepared, you’re in a better position to deal with what’s triggering you before you create more damage.

“We constantly want the outside world to be easier than it actually is, more validating, softer, reassuring than it is,” says Michels. Because it’s not: Try a tool called “dust” to nullify the outside world momentarily.

  1. When you get triggered, cover everything and everyone in the outside world with a thick layer of dust. This renders the outside world non-emanating, says Michels. Light is a symbol of what we want from the outside world. And dust says: I’m not receiving that. Nullifying the outside world cuts down on hurt and anger.
  2. Inside of you, imagine there is a fountain of infinite light. And all you want to do is light up the world with that light. This might be an image that you carry around with you.

Human beings are at their best when they are in a giving, outflow posture, rather than reacting, says Michels. This tool downgrades the importance of the outside world as a source for you. And it allows you to put out more. The moment you become the source, you don’t have to get triggered.

But we still get triggered—how do we process what upsets us?
At the end of the day, after you’ve gotten annoyed (however many times), go somewhere quiet and talk to your shadow. The shadow is a little bit like your alter ego—it’s almost another personality living inside of you. It’s an essential part of you, but you might be afraid to show it to the world. Whenever you have an extreme reaction to someone else, Michels believes that your shadow is having a reaction to you. So if it bothers you that someone is acting like a know-it-all, perhaps your shadow feels like you act like a know-it-all to it.

Dating in isolation during a coronavirus pandemic has a surprising upside

For single Australians looking for love, social distancing and self-isolating rules have drastically altered the dating scene.

Instead of getting drinks at a bar, going for a walk in the park or meeting up for coffee, they’ve had to keep it to sending flirty texts and arranging virtual dates.

“There’s so many awesome things about having a first date by video chat,” says Carissa Bennett, a women’s mentor and life coach from Melbourne. “For starters, you can wear your pyjama pants and do it from the comfort of your own couch.”

With the exception of a recent six-month relationship, Carissa has been single and “on the apps” for the past seven years. When the coronavirus restrictions were announced, she had a moment of panic.

“The part of me that’s been single for years doesn’t care, and the other part of me is 34 years old and really would like to meet somebody.”

So, Carissa is still on the apps — and she’s not alone.

As many as 70 per cent of users on the Hinge dating app have expressed interest in going on digital dates during the pandemic, according to a spokesperson.

We made some date backgrounds to help your Zoom dates feel a little more like real dates. Date from home and stay safe, everyone!

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View image on Twitter
View image on Twitter
View image on Twitter

The company is encouraging people to “date from home” using phone calls and video chats, and have even provided backgrounds to help Zoom dates feel like real dates.

A Bumble representative says that globally there has already been a significant rise in the numbers of messages (by 23 per cent) and in-app video calls (by 31 per cent) between users since mid-March.

More Tinder users are beginning to mention the coronavirus pandemic in their bios. The app has made their Passport feature available to all members, allowing users to meet anyone, anywhere in the world, and connect in this time of isolation.

The unexpected dating benefit of coronavirus

People on the apps are also using the pandemic as a conversation starter.

Remember Aziz’s go-to Tinder line on Master of None? I’m gonna need dudes to bring that back and MEAN IT

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“Because of what’s going on in the world right now, we’re so deeply connected by this situation that’s happening and we instantly have something in common to talk about,” Carissa says. “Very quickly you learn their political views, are they a pessimist or an optimist, are they open-minded.”

Carissa matched with someone on Bumble who works at a major Australian bank, and who did not think that banks should be supporting businesses that were struggling because of the shutdowns.

“His perspective on what was happening was so different to mine, and I would never be interested in dating someone with that perspective,” she says.

Another person she met on an app about a year go — and went on “a really amazing date” with — recently reached out again to see how she was faring during the pandemic.

Carissa suggested a video date, and he said yes.

Because they live in different states — she’s in Victoria, he’s in Queensland — they had kept in touch by text, and they couldn’t believe that “neither of us had thought about a virtual date before.”

“I think we will probably talk and maybe have a wine,” she says.

Dr Maria Scoda, a clinical psychologist who specialises in relationship counselling, says virtual dating may provide an opportunity for people to take things slow and get to know each other on a deeper level.

For people who are genuinely interested in developing a connection with someone, Dr Scoda suggests creating parallel dating scenarios within the home like having dinner, playing a board game, or watching a movie together while on a video call.

“Even just talking about the mundane things together, describing your day or week, that’s part of a normal relationship,” she says.

Does ‘virtual love’ work in real life?

The “big unknown” is whether a relationship built in the virtual world will translate in real life, Dr Scoda warns.

“Once they meet in person, everything they’ve created may fall flat,” she says. “I know people don’t want to hear that, but it’s a possible reality.”

May*, a 31-year-old musician from Melbourne started chatting to a woman on the dating app Raya a week ago, and they’ve already gone on three virtual dates.

“We’re always texting and calling,” May says. “It’s offering companionship and it’s adding value to my isolation.”

For their first video call, May decided to lay down in a local park and talk to her. They spoke for an hour.

“The time actually flew past, she says, “I almost forgot that I was just lying there completely on my own.”

They talk about everything from what they did that day, to dreaming up things they want to do together in the future.

Coronavirus questions answered

“The fact that we enjoy talking to one another and keep having things to share despite the fact that there’s no physical affection is a really good sign,” she says.

“But looking into the future too much is not really the best thing to do because there’s so much uncertainty and it feels like I probably won’t see her for months and months.”

It’s not just social distancing that’s keeping May and her Raya date apart. May was meant to move to the US in April, where her Raya date lives, but the move has been put on hold indefinitely.

“I think we’re trying to be as casual as possible, just enjoy it for what it is and not put too much pressure on it.”

While this new dating paradigm can feel exciting, Dr Scoda says it important to understand that the risks and dangers of dating in person also present themselves when dating from home.

“There will be people who take advantage of others and may move a video date in a sexual direction that the other person doesn’t want.”

If this happens, she advises to disconnect immediately.

“Trust your gut feeling if it doesn’t feel right,” Dr Scoda says. “People need to look after themselves while virtual dating as they would in real life dating.”

There will also be single people who don’t want to date right now, and Dr Scoda says this period of isolation may be a good time to reconnect with yourself.

“Start looking at the things that you enjoy doing that you haven’t had the time to do,” she says, “like reading a book, or doing a project, or deepening existing relationships.

Loveless isolation

Adam, a 50-something university lecturer in NSW and father of two, describes his pre-pandemic love life as “very sexually active” with “a few different lovers”.

The last time he met a lover in person was mid-March, just before the government started rolling out social distancing rules.

“Whatever we were doing just a few weeks ago now feels like an outrageous risk,” he says.

Adam’s older daughter in her early 20s found an “isolation buddy”, a guy she’ll stay at home with for as long as the stay at home directive is in place.

While he’s maintained contact with his lovers through texts and phone calls, they’ve all decided to not meet up.

Stay up-to-date on the coronavirus outbreak

“It was suddenly a good time to have one person you could bunker down with,” he says. “That’s when I got that feeling of playing musical chairs and the music stopped and I didn’t have a chair organised.”

Adam’s working from home and living with his teenage daughter, who is also staying at home and doing school online.

The energy he used to put into planning dates is now being put into other things like gardening, meditation and building an extra room onto his house for his daughter.

“I’ve been a sexually active person all my life so maybe there’s something to learn from a period of abstinence,” Adam says.

“I’m able to really spend time with my daughter,” he says, “it’s just a whole lot more quietness, a whole lot more time together, a whole lot more connection than is possible in the non-stop rat race, really.”