I’m often asked what makes dating in midlife different than dating in your 20’s and 30’s — at least for women. While I know the following are gross generalizations and there are always exceptions, here’s what I’ve come up with:
- Having more/any biological kids is past. Most people are finished with the early part of child rearing, although some may want to adopt. Some people still have kids at home, some people’s kids are grown, and some have grandkids. The biological clock has stopped ticking for most midlife women, which releases a tremendous amount of pressure from the dating process.
- Physical attractiveness has begun to wane. While there are still plenty of pretty/handsome midlifers, most have had some loss of beauty — at least from their perspective based on what they had in their youth. Many people are physically active, some even buff, and some in better shape than they were a decade or two ago. But most have some wrinkles, and perhaps a bag or sag or two, unless there’s been surgical enhancements. And some are more attractive with those signs of experience on their face.
- Health challenges may be present. High cholesterol, aching joints, high pressure and diabetes are common among midlifers, no matter how healthily you eat and how many days a week you work out. Much of this is managed through diligent diet, exercise and medication so it has little affect on activities, but some more severe cases limit activities. This makes dating more of a challenge when you have to explain why you can’t go backpacking or windsurfing or rock climbing on your dates.
- Financial fitness is more common. Although divorce and health issues can take a financial toll, by midlife many people have figured out how to manage their money, and often have financial security through investments. Even if they are not affluent, most have a strategy for getting by. And many can afford time off and grand vacations.
- More responsibilities make it harder to find time. Dating takes time. Midlifers are more likely to be looking after their parents and kids simultaneously. Add to that a job, physical fitness, friends and hobbies, and many don’t have much time left over to devote to dating. However, if the kids are on their own and the parents don’t need much attention, there can be plenty of time to explore activities with a sweetie.
- Clarity about what they want. After a break up or two, most people reflect on what they don’t want to repeat. They are clearer about what they want their next relationship to entail. In fact, if someone has been married a time or two, in midlife they may decide they don’t want to be married. Instead may want an activity partner, but not someone who they will live with.
- Wisdom about life. They may be slower to anger, quicker to forgive, mellower, more willing to love and be loved. Some people think midlifers are way more interesting to be with than younger dates, even though there is lots of hype about wanting boy/girl toys.
What can you add to this list that you notice about midlife daters and dating?
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