step one: don’t be ageist.
So much of how we define ourselves , and thus end up silo’d, is determined by which age-box we tick off on a form. It’s a gravitational pull towards the norms. When we’re in the market for a relationship, one of the first questions friends ask is ‘what is your age range’. Typically, it’s within a few years either side of our own age. Unless, you’re a man, in which case, no matter what your age, you prefer 24 year olds. (To be fair, that only reflects men on OkCupid.) Truth is- and, ask any woman over 35 and they’ll have the stories to back it up – men are not afraid of dating older women, not as a weird fetish, but because they recognize what they bring to the table – strength, experience, wisdom, perspective. Don’t rule out the younger man, that would be ageist.
step 2: Think, don’t overthink
Finding love after you’ve had some serious life and relationship drama is different than it was fifteen or twenty years ago, when you didn’t know what you know now. So, don’t expect to approach it the same way. It might be a more serious consideration, involving kids, or strict boundaries, or some trust issues you’ve acquired. On the other hand, it might be a post-divorce taste of freedom that has you YOLO-ing all over town. Regardless of what you tell anyone else, be honest with yourself.
“But – and, ask any woman over 35 and they’ll have the stories to back it up – men are not afraid of dating older women, not as a weird fetish, but because they recognize what they bring to the table – strength, experience, wisdom, perspective.”
step 3: remove the deadline
Shockingly (to me, at least) is that the average time for remarriage after a split is three years. That doesn’t seem a like a huge amount of time for healing, regrouping and figuring yourself out. Maybe not surprisingly, the second-marriage divorce-rate is higher than the first timers. The lesson? Take all the time you need. Meditate, reconnect with girlfriends, make a life-list or a vision board and focus on what you really want for your life with or without a partner. For many women, this is a time in life when they pivot; they find their true north and put their own happiness back at the top of the list. This is incredibly important. As flight attendants have taught us, you have to put your own oxygen mask on before you help anyone else.
According to the Pew Research Center remarriage is still very popular, despite it’s very bad track record. The average age of divorce (erm, the first one) is 30, but that doesn’t make everyone gun shy. There’s a glut of couples on their second marriage between 35-54, and how about the huge number of couples 55+ tying the knot. The wedding industrial complex is alive and well.
step 4: remember, you’ll be fine
I’m not sure I’d call dating at any age ‘glamorous‘ (shout out to goop, but, no) considering the very high chance of endless first-date small talk, and, mismatched ideals, but, one thing I know is true, many women meet their soul mates in their forties, and have fulfilling, rich and rewarding relationships because they know themselves a lot better than they did when they were 24, and the ‘happy ending’ we’re looking for is centred on realistic goals and authentic connection, which may or may not include marriage. Either way, you’ll be good.
What has your experience been dating in your forties? Spill!