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If you’re over 40 and you’ve tried the dating waters, you know they can be treacherous with rough currents and full of sharks. The problem with dating at a certain age, is that unlike dating younger, you’re generally not coming to it with a fresh view. You’ve likely been dumped, dissed, divorced, dogged, disappointed or all of the above. And now that people interact with their devices more than each other and in the midst of the #MeToo movement, things are more confusing than ever. Here’s what you need to know to date while grown.

HEAL THYSELF

Do the world a favor. Heal yourself of the trauma of your previous relationships before you attempt to start a new one. Yes, a compassionate partner can make a world of difference if you have been hurt, but if you’re still traumatized and angry and bitter, it will be hard to find one. There are a lot of wounded warriors in the dating game, and most people are trying to stay on top of their own issues, never mind yours. And don’t forget that dating while grown generally comes with more life complications. People are dealing with aging parents, troubled children, hectic jobs and financial struggles. No one expects anyone to be without baggage, but if you don’t deal with yours in a proactive way – therapy helps – then you will either find yourself running people away or you’ll be in yet another failed relationship.

KEEP YOURSELF UP

Let’s be honest. Not too many of us look the same as we did in our 20’s. But some of us look years older, because life – family, responsibilities, etc., have gotten in the way of our self-care. It’s hard enough to date but when you don’t feel good about yourself, that makes it even harder. If you’re carrying 40 plus pounds you don’t need, you may find yourself being assessed on whether or not the risk of significant health issues down the line is worth the risk. If you haven’t dated since the first Bush was president, you may be out of style as well. Ask your kids (or grandkids) to help you upgrade your look. (If your kids have been dying to do this before you even ask, chances are you need to take them up on it.)

KNOW YOURSELF

By the time you get to your 40’s, you know who you are – or should. If you are someone who enjoys fine foods and wine, chances are you’re not going to be happy with a guy who thinks a fine food meal is a chain restaurant. If you’re a man who likes to collect passport stamps and you meet a woman who’s a homebody who barely wants to leave the house, much less the state, you’re not going to be happy with her as a romantic partner. There are exceptions to every rule of course, but by the time you get to your 40’s, you’re not going to be successful in a relationship that forces you to compromise things that are truly important to you.

GO ONLINE

The dating game has moved online. Most people are meeting folks online, from Tinder to Match.com.  Each online site has its pluses and minuses and you can meet someone on any site, but some are better for serious relationships while others are more for hooking up. There  are also sites like Christiansingles.com for those who profess Christianity and Ourtime.com for singles 50 and up. There are other online options as well, via affinity groups on Facebook which focus on singles of various ages, those who share hobbies like travel or those who appreciate men with beards. Unfortunately, a lot of the specific to singles groups descend into petty bickering but there are others dedicated to travel and other interests where members focus on the interest, not the drama.

TAKE YOUR TIME

Don’t date to get married and don’t date with expectation of anything but a great night out. If you don’t, you’ll go on a few dates and when true love doesn’t happen, you’ll want to quit. Dating takes time, patience, intention and fortitude. If you don’t have those qualities, you’ll be frustrated in dating and ultimately, it won’t work out for you. Also, and especially for women, don’t stop dating multiple people because you have a good vibe with one. If you don’t both come to a mutual decision that you’re a couple and its time to delete your dating apps, then you’re still single. If you are a single woman, there’s nothing wrong with dating multiple men. I said dating, not sleeping with – but that’s up to you and your personal morals. Learn to date without expectation and you’ll have a better experience.

Dating Over 40? 10 Things You Need To Know was originally published on blackamericaweb.com

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