Forty seems to be the new thirty! Couples often start families later, and people don’t always lock in their careers until they’ve spent years in several jobs. But can you find true love after 40? Or is it too late to have the kind of love you dreamed of in your youth?
The answer is a big, hearty yes. But just as 40 brings with it a number of physical changes, it also comes with life history. And that history can shape your perspective on love and a potential mate.
Forty is an interesting age. It’s like a bridge connecting your youth, with all its freedom and exploration, to middle age. It can instantly make you feel old, even when your mind swears you are still young. And if you’re single, it’s only natural to wonder, “Can you find true love after 40?”
And a good number of my clients are over 40 who have met their life partners as a result of our coaching.
However, I’ve seen that for marriage-minded people, being single after 40 can feel disheartening, even hopeless. If you fall into this group, you may be doing a lot of comparing to friends who are happily married. You may see them as having what you want — or think you’re supposed to want. And you may see those younger than you as being “lucky” because they still have possibilities you believe have passed you by.
But let’s pull away from despair mode and really look at this question, “Can you find true love after 40?” If you’re convinced it’s useless at this point, what are some of the lies you might be telling yourself?
- All the good ones are taken. (They’re not.)
- I had my one chance, and it didn’t work out.
- I have too much baggage for a relationship now.
- Everyone else in my age group has too much baggage.
- Dating takes too much time and effort.
- All men are (fill in the blank).
- All women are (fill in the blank).
- Men want only younger women.
The truth is, this threshold into middle-age can also be a threshold into your most profound relationships — including love.
You’ve not come to this point empty-handed or empty-hearted. Or perhaps you’ve already been married and it didn’t work out for you. And, chances are you’ve had several romantic relationships and at least one significant relationship so far if you haven’t been married yet. You’ve “lived and learned,” not only about life and people but about yourself. And you’ve refined your beliefs and values, sometimes without even realizing it.
You are, simply put, the person you wished you knew how to be when you were younger. But life has its trade-offs, and the lessons that enrich and empower it usually come at the cost of time.
So here you are — 40, 45, and even over 50 — and single. Dating for the sake of dating sounds exhausting at best. And if you’re marriage-minded, your question is “can you find true love after 40?”
When you embark (or re-embark) on the dating scene after 40, there are several things to keep in mind. And there’s at one essential in this list that can make all the difference in your success.
- Keep in mind how you got here.Have you ever been married? Are you divorced? Widowed? Or have you loved and hoped it would move towards marriage, and it never did? Your specific experiences with love and loss will greatly affect your mindset going forward.
- Own where you are If you’re not comfortable being alone as a choice and not as a default, you’ll only exude neediness in the dating world.Even if you’ve always wanted to be in a committed relationship, being single isn’t a sign of failure. Embrace your solo life as an expression of knowing what is important to you and knowing how to truly appreciate the life you’re in now.That kind of confidence is what will get you through disappointing dates with a “that was interesting” attitude. And it will help you approach every connection with a mindset of “What can/did I learn? And how can I grow from it?”Owning where you are now is just another way of saying, love yourself. And by this point in life, you know that no one else will love you if you don’t love yourself first.
- Be (or become) the best version of yourself.If you want to meet someone who is adventurous, be adventurous. If you want to meet someone who is health-conscious, tidy up your own lifestyle habits.The important thing is to treat your life as if it is still supposed to be lived — because it is. Explore new hobbies and interests. Get involved with new groups of people who are doing things you’ve never done before.Cultivate points of interest in your own life. Interesting people attract other interesting people. Would you want to hang out with you? If not, look to expand your interests and activities.
- Give your baggage a new title.Baggage is a burden only when you drag it around unopened. And by “opened” I don’t mean over dinner during a first date. I mean facing it. Dealing with it. Learning from it. Allowing it to shape your values, character, behavior, and choices going forward.That means owning up to your own mistakes and making changes that make you a better person and potential partner. Your “baggage” now becomes a wealth of life experience to share with someone who also has a lot to offer.And if your baggage is a child or a dependent parent, how can you turn that around so it will be considered an asset for you?
- Don’t pull any punches.Especially if you’re using an online dating site to increase your options, don’t lie. About anything.Just because you still enjoy the music of your 30’s doesn’t mean you’re 30, so don’t say you are. And even if you were an athlete in college, you may need to do an honest assessment of your body type now that you are over 40.Pretending to be something you’re not will only lead to disappointment and distrust once you meet someone in person. So be authentic and honest. Remember to own where you are and who you are.
- Hire a dating coach.You call in the pros for everything from taxes to plumbing, so why not for dating? Don’t stay stuck wondering, “Can you find true love after 40?” Reach out and bring an expert along to show you how to do it.Most of my clients are over 40, 50, 60 and beyond! For those who seek it, love is available to all! And a dating coach can shorten your learning curve and save you from heartache and wasting your time.
- Lower your expectations, not your hopes (or your standards).Dating later in life can feel defeating from the get-go. You’ve reached a point where you know what you like, and you probably have little tolerance for what you don’t like. So it’s natural to think no one will measure up. (Watch out for those gremlins!)This is the time to let go of some of those fantasy expectations from your younger years. As you look ahead to the later years of life, you realize that rippled abs and a designer wardrobe aren’t what will sustain a relationship. Sometimes a true gem is buried underneath some quirky habits, stretch marks, and a favorite shirt from the 80’s.List a handful of character non-negotiables, then allow people to show you who they truly are. Chances are you’re not rushing to beat a biological clock, so enjoy the ride. Keep in mind that anyone you meet is also assessing you.I’m not suggesting you lower your standards. I’m recommending you give a nice person a second or third date to see if something can develop. Then, if you decide s/he’s not the right one for you, then politely tell him/her “no thank you”.
Give people the benefit of the doubt. Go into dating with confidence and hope, and without expectations. (After all, you’re happy to own your singlehood, too, right?) And watch how life — and love — can blossom after 40.