If you’re single and over 40, chances are your BFF, your parents, your siblings, and maybe even the stranger in the checkout line, are all offering you their unsolicited dating advice. While Aunt Debby may have a point, we’d rather leave it to the pros. So we spoke to a handful of dating coaches and relationship experts, and asked them to share their best tips for dating after 40. Read on and find love.
When you’re done being patient…be patient.
Whether you just left a bad marriage, or have been in the dating world for decades, it makes sense to feel like it’s your turn to find love. “Singles over 40 often have an Amazon Prime mentality when it comes to dating,” says relationship expert and founder of Smart Dating Academy, Bela Gandhi. “They want to check off a few boxes and have the perfect candidate arrive at their mailbox in 48 hours.” It’s important to be patient and to stay positive, she says. Think of your frustration like a blizzard-it will do nothing but delay the delivery.
Remember, you’re exactly the right age to find true love.
When you’re wondering if your smile lines are stopping Mr. or Miss Right from swiping right, it’s easy to forget that if you were ten years younger you wouldn’t be who you are right now. Relationship expert Dr. Juliana Morris says love connections at an older age can be even more profound.
“When you own where you are in your life, who you are, and are confident in your values and personality, you are more likely to find someone who is better suited for you,” she says.
Keep trying new things.
“Be the single you want to meet,” says Tammy Shaklee, relationship expert and founder of H4M Matchmakers. One way to do that is to constantly explore new hobbies and interests. That way, she says, “you’ll have exciting things to discuss on a date, whether it’s travel plans, the latest restaurant, or even new places and activities going on in your city.” When you’re the best version of yourself, “it can be magnetic,” says Shaklee.
Don’t get hung up on what you think you want.
If you know right away whether your first date is worthy of a second, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Intuitive dating coach Nikki Novo says this is a common mistake. “Dating in our 40s typically means we know what we want, and we feel pressed to find it quick!” she says.
“But eliminating fast is often the strategy that prolongs our single status.” She warns that there is a thin line between “going with your gut” and being judgmental. (Are excuses like ‘I don’t like how their apartment smells,’ really deal-breakers?) Before saying “see ya never,” ask yourself if the person has other qualities that might be worth another look.
But do think positively.
“After a couple of decades of dating experience, it can be easy to assume you will be disappointed,” says dating coach Lily Womble. But that cynicism is only working against you. Sunny Joy McMillan, relationship expert and author of Unhitched, agrees. She recommends replacing your doubts with optimism. For example, she suggests changing your mindset from “dating is scary and difficult” to “dating is fun and easy.” Dissolving any pesky thoughts will help you date with positivity.
Embrace your baggage.
It’s safe to assume most people have something they’re struggling with. Morris suggests reframing “baggage” as “life experience,” and Erika Ettin, dating coach and author of Love at First Site has found this to be true. For example, Ettin says, one of her clients didn’t want to date a man because he took care of his grandson. But Ettin helped reframe it as a positive. “It showed that he was dedicated to his family,” says Ettin, who encouraged her client to give it a shot. “She now has a newfound love of chicken fingers at Friendly’s.”
Resist dating someone who reminds you of an ex.
“It can be tempting to go out with a person who reminds you of someone you’ve already had a relationship with,” says Lane Moore, author of How to Be Alone. And while there’s something to be said for familiarity, if love didn’t work then, why would it work now?
To stop history from repeating itself, Moore recommends finding ways to heal, whether that means going to a therapist or doing some soul-searching. “Healing is the only way to date a person who isn’t similar to someone who is unhealthy for you,” she says.
Hire a dating coach.
Just like a trainer at the gym helps you push yourself, a dating coach kicks your love life into shape. “In every area of our lives, we hire people to help us,” says Gandhi. “Yet when it comes to love, we think it should happen organically.” As a coach, Gandhi helps clients with everything from writing online dating profiles to teaching folks how to message effectively. “Coaching offers services and products that are designed to improve our clients’ success,” says Keren Eldad, who created the program Date With Enthusiasm. Eldad recommends searching Linkedin for a dating coach that melds with your personality, is ICF certified (that stands for International Coaching Federation), and has a proven track record.
Create a truthful online dating profile.
“Do not modify who you are, do not copy someone else’s profile, and for goodness sake,” says Eldad, “stay away from trite quotes.” To attract the kind of person you want to be with, it’s most important that your profile reflects your authentic self. “
In short, “don’t fake your age, height, or anything else for that matter,” she says. “You don’t want to start off with dishonesty.” Instead she says, if you love a certain fantasy novel, talk about it. If you like to dance, ski or go on walks with your dog, mention that. “You are unique and awesome, so show up that way. You will connect with another person as the true you.”
Pick a couple of apps that feel right.
So, how do you know which apps are best for you? If trial and error sounds stressful, take Novo’s guidance: If you have “stranger danger” Bumble is great, because it allows you to make the first move, she says. But if you like to be pursued, she recommends Match.com. And for those who feel most comfortable knowing there’s a social connection, she likes likes Hinge because it matches based on common friends.
But, don’t rely on apps alone.
If all that swiping starts to feel overwhelming, shut it down. In fact, a lot of people over 40 miss dating IRL, according to Novo, who says her clients have the most success when they hang out at places that make them feel good, like a bar that plays their favorite music, at a cozy independent coffee shop, or by joining a running or fitness community-if that’s your thing. “Don’t discount referrals or meeting by chance, just because everyone else seems to be using apps,” she says. If you date in a way that feels right for you, you’ll be more successful.
Make the first move.
“One of the freedoms of being older is knowing what you want and being able to ask for it,” says Morris. So, if you think you may be interested in someone, you shouldn’t hesitate to be the first one to initiate a conversation, or ask that person out-or even go for the kiss.
“By the time most people are 40, they can handle acceptance and rejection equally,” she says. So use the confidence that comes with age to your advantage. It provides an opening that many younger people miss out on.
The stakes can feel higher when dating in your 40s and beyond, says McMillan. “Each party has more life experience, and often more kids.” This can turn a simple first date into a “future trip of epic proportions.” But instead of jumping ahead and wondering how your kids will get along, take dating one step at a time. “We are most powerful in the present moment,” says McMillan, “So use that power to your advantage when dating, and keep your attention on what is immediately in front of you.”