Dating after 40 can be a great experience since you’re more mature, more experienced, smarter, and wiser than you were in your early dating years. You need to make sure you’re using all those qualities in order to make dating easier than it was when you were younger.
However, it’s important to understand that dating after a certain age can be a different experience compared to when you were in your 20s since you have a lot of financial responsibilities now. Also, you’re more experienced and probably had a few serious relationships by the time you reach 40, so you need to make sure you’ve learned from them.
It doesn’t even matter if you’re divorced or have never been married, there are a few things you should never do when dating in your 40s. Read on to discover the dating mistakes you should avoid at all costs!
1. You’re not ready to date just yet.
Dating changes constantly, and it sure isn’t the same thing when you’re 40, as it was back when you were in your 20s and experienced your first relationships. At this age, you already had your fair share of deep connections, and the person you’re dating probably had them too. Therefore, both you and your date might have emotional baggage that you’re carrying around with you.
According to Kelly Campbell, Ph.D., professor of psychology at California State University, San Bernardino, you need to make sure you and the person you’re dating are actually ready for it. It’s important that both of you are ready to move forward and love again, especially if you come after a divorce or a long relationship.
You can easily find out that you and your partner are not ready to date just yet when you’re talking more about the past than you do about the present. Also, when you’re talking about your ex-partner in a disrespectful manner, and not being able to remain impartial, it could be a sign that you haven’t moved on, which makes you not ready to date new people.
“If they are unable to discuss it in objective terms or clearly see each person’s role in what went wrong, it may be a warning sign that they aren’t over the other person, are still holding a grudge, or are at risk for repeating maladaptive patterns in the new relationship,” Dr. Campbell suggests.
In fact, having to constantly hear about someone’s ex, or another same-sex person might be a total turn-off, explains Fran Walfish, MD, a Beverly Hills-based family and relationship psychotherapist.
2. You think dating is still the same as it was 20 years ago.
Getting back into dating after being in a serious relationship for several years or even married could easily become a challenge, considering that dating has changed a lot in the past years. You probably imagine that being single and ready to mingle in your 40s comes with a lot of date nights, parties, heading out to bars, or flirting with someone you just met at a coffee shop.
However, the reality is often a little different, since you’re working full-time and also need to take care of your kids. Going to bars and meeting new people might be the last thing on your mind since you barely have time to eat.
However, that doesn’t mean you have to give up dating when your schedule is very busy. In fact, dating has evolved a lot since you were in your 20s, and a lot of people are now using online dating apps for that. It’s definitely a more efficient option especially when you have a busy schedule and children to take care of.
3. You’re using old photos as your profile picture.
Probably the best approach when dating in your 40s would be to focus on being authentic. Therefore, posting old photos over social media could give the false impression that you still look like that, even though the photo might have been taken years and years ago. Recent photos that show your true self are very important.
If you’re thinking about updating your social media profile pic, experts recommend trying to avoid uploading selfies or photos that do not reveal your best qualities. Chances are people won’t react to it and you’ll end up disappointed. Especially when it comes to your online dating profile, the more professional the photo, the better.
Additionally, doing your makeup and hair is also a good idea in order to get other people’s attention, if this is what you want. Relationship experts recommend thinking of a profile picture like you would treat a job interview. Therefore, wear your best clothes, make sure your hair and makeup are on point, and don’t forget to smile. You can really take a photo to the next level if you follow these simple steps.
4. You tend to rush into introducing your new partner to them.
It’s true that things can become even more complicated when there are kids involved. If you’re a parent, your dating life will look different, as your kids might be your top priority, and everything comes after.
Most of the time, children have a hard time adjusting to their parent’s divorce, so seeing you with someone new that isn’t their other parent might make them very sad, which I guess you wouldn’t want. Your children’s emotional needs should be your main priority, rather than your new partner, but you can still do both.
According to Walfish, children might need more time to accept the fact that their parents are no longer together, so they might go through different emotions in this period, including confusion, anger, frustration, sadness, and finally, acceptance. Walfish also added that it usually takes up to two years for them to be ok with the idea that you’re no longer together.
“Introducing a new love interest too soon may delay or damage this process. You owe it to your kids to take it slow when dating,” he added. That is why it’s important to introduce your new partner to your kids only when you know it’s going to be serious.
For instance, if you’re dating someone for a few months and you feel certain that they’re going to be in your life for a long time, the best approach would be talking to your children about it. Tell them what you like about your new partner, how happy they make you feel, and encourage them to share both their positive and negative feelings about the situation.
Listen to what your kids have to say about the idea of you dating someone new, and even though they might be ok with it at first, don’t rush into introducing your partner to them right away. Keep talking to them about the situation until you feel like they’re ready to meet your new partner.
If things are not serious between you and your partner just yet, it would be better to enjoy dating them while your kids are spending time with their other parents or grandparents. As Dr. Walfish has explained, introducing your new partner very early to your children might make them even more confused if things don’t work out.
5. You still want the same qualities in a partner that you wanted 20 years ago.
When you used to be a 20-something-year-old you probably want to date someone that was good-looking, sexy, smart, funny, romantic, with a full head of hair and a good financial situation. Maybe you even found your Prince Charming but went on your separate ways now, and it’s time to start looking again.
However, it’s unrealistic to still look for the same qualities in a partner when you’re in your 40s, especially the hair part. Also, chances are you’re a different person now compared to when you were in your 20s, maybe you’re not so focused on finding a good-looking partner anymore, but rather one that makes you laugh and treat you with respect.
It’s important to ask yourself what you’re looking for in a new partner or what qualities you wish they had. Getting back into the dating scene is definitely more challenging when you’re 40, but it’s a good thing that you have a lot of experience and probably learned your lessons from previous relationships.
In order to attract new people, you need to make sure you know yourself and understand what you’re looking for in a partner.
6. You’re rushing to get back into the dating scene.
Going through a divorce or getting out of a serious relationship might be a very discouraging experience. You probably can’t even go a day without having a mental breakdown or crying in the bathroom, which makes you not ready to start dating new people.
If your divorce left you in pretty bad shape, you need to be ok with the fact that you might not be ready to start dating just yet, even though you want to. This would be the best time to focus on yourself, your children, your job, and your friends. Self-care is very important and it will help you overcome those bad moments.
According to Sibel Golden, a psychotherapist and Expressive Arts Therapist in Seattle and founder of Real Food + Real Beauty, especially after going through a bad divorce, you need to make sure you’re taking good care of yourself, in order to regain your sense of worth and value that might have been affected by the separation.
“This is a time for healing. Think of it as nurturing yourself with a balance of activities that you enjoy, as well as solitude and introspection,” she added.
7. You’re always apologizing for being yourself.
Emotional baggage is part of your life by the time you reach 40, as you probably had your fair share of laughter, sadness, love, and suffering. You shouldn’t apologize for being yourself, nor let anyone make you feel bad for being the way you are.
As Durvasula has explained, “Women, in particular, apologize for what they perceive are their shortcomings or to discount themselves.”
You don’t need to apologize for living your life the way you do. Also, you don’t even need to apologize for your past mistakes. Own up to them and acknowledge the fact that they’ve made you who you are today.
Additionally, make sure to listen to what the other person has to say without judging them based on the mistakes they’ve made in the past. Treat someone the same way you would like to be treated.
8. You don’t trust your instincts.
According to Clinical psychologist Ramani Durvasula, MD, when it comes to dating, it’s very important to always trust your instincts. In fact, a lot of dating mistakes begin by not trusting your instincts early on, Durvasula added.
Especially after reaching a certain age, you probably have a lot of experience from your previous relationships, so it’s even more important to trust your instincts. At the same time, when you learn to trust your gut, you’ll make a lot of decisions based on shared feelings, and mutual values, and you’ll also start to look outside your type. Types will only limit your chances of finding someone special, Durvasula added.
9. You’re saying ‘Yes’ to everyone.
When you’re in your 40s and start using online dating apps for the first time to meet new people, you might be thrilled to connect with everyone. But after a while, doing this might turn out to be very time-consuming. Also, you might have to deal with a lot of weirdos.
Since you might not have so much free time to spend online, it might be wiser to limit your contact with people that appear sane and respectful.
10. You’re making assumptions.
Each person you meet is different, so it’s not fair to start making assumptions based on your past experiences. If someone hurt you in the past, doesn’t mean that everyone will continue to hurt you in the future.
And even when you had a lot of negative experiences with dating in the past, you shouldn’t just assume the person you’re now seeing will do the same. People are not the same, even though your trust issues might tell you otherwise.
Let the other person surprise you and try not to be too judgmental or harsh, while also trying to keep your guard down just in case.
Pro Tip: This book may help you understand better how the human brain works.
11. You’re taking things too seriously.
Dating can be stressful, but you need to make sure you’re having fun while doing it. No matter what age you are, the purpose of a date is to find someone you actually enjoy spending time with.
It’s normal to feel a little vulnerable when putting yourself out there, even when you are aware of your own qualities and you know what you bring to the table. Don’t be too harsh on yourself and don’t take things too seriously. If you’re the type that frustrates over a single word the other person said to you doing your date, you’ll have to deal with a lot of negative emotions.
Do not judge yourself or your date, and try to enjoy the moment without overthinking it. After all, this is not the moment to decide if things are going to work between you two or not. You’ll have a lot of time for that later on.
12. You’re still following old-fashion etiquette.
Try to let go of the idea that men are supposed to make the first move, and of women have to act in a certain way or another. Sitting down and waiting for someone to make the first move might take forever, so why not take the situation into your own hands and ask someone out? If you do this, you’ll feel a lot more empowered and confident.
Especially when we talk about online dating, you shouldn’t be afraid to approach someone, after all, this is how you create traffic. And the more traffic you generate on your online dating profile, the more you’ll get back in return.
13. You’re not accepting the other person’s schedule.
As previously mentioned, dating in your 40s usually comes with a whole new set of challenges, including managing each other schedules. As your life might be very busy with work and children, you probably do not have the luxury of spending a lot of hours on a date night on Wednesday.
You might feel a little frustrated when your partner is calling to reschedule date night, but you also need to understand that each age comes with its own challenges and responsibilities, and children are usually every parent’s priority.
So instead of feeling angry when this happens, try to understand that your partner might have their own personal responsibilities that need to be handled. At the same time, the other person will also have to be supportive when you’ll be in the same situation.
14. You’re making too elaborate plans for the first date.
Most people tend to make this mistake a lot. It’s usually because you set very high expectations of a first date, you want to do fun things and make it unforgettable, but you’re forgetting the most important thing: chemistry.
No matter how much you talk to someone online, via texts, or on the phone, you can’t know if you have chemistry or not until you meet in person. Most of the time, when you’re making very elaborate plans for a first date you’re focusing on the wrong thing.
Ramani Durvasula would recommend sticking to simple things, such as going to a coffee shop or even a restaurant, where you can just sit down and talk to each other in order to get to know the other person better.
15. You’re putting too much pressure on your first date.
First dates should be light, you’re not discussing too personal topics and you’re also not getting into details about your past relationships or even marriages. Your main goal should be to get to know each other better and find things in common.
People tend to overshare or put too much pressure on a first date when they desperately want to be in a relationship. But this is a trap and you shouldn’t fall into it, Durvasula said. Dating in your 40s can be a little more stressful than it was back in the day, as you might not want to waste any more time on meaningless people.
However, there is such a thing as setting very high expectations, which can make you very disappointed if things don’t work out as you planned. Ray recommends being the person you want to attract.
Try to be the best version of yourself on your first date, make sure you look nice, don’t be afraid to smile, and focus on having fun and enjoying each other’s company. Things will come naturally and there’s no need to force anything.
Make sure to also check: 9 Signs You’re Dating the Right Person, According to Experts.