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Dating Like a Grownup

Finding Romance After 40

Cupid is busy this time of year. He’s also tired. Shooting arrows at twenty-somethings who text each other across the table is such a waste. What happened to conversation? What happened to romance? Where are the grownups? Dating after 40, or edging toward 50 and 60, can be a scary proposition. The princess is no longer in the ivory tower waiting for the prince, who’s scouring online dating sites while she’s on Facebook. Where to begin?

Is the man still the one who initiates a date? Or can the woman ask him out? Who pays for lunch or dinner—or do they split the check? Face-to-face conversation or texting like idiots? Meet separately or drive together? What are the rules?

Need help getting back in the game? Dating has become such big business that it has spawned multitudes of dating and relationship coaches. It’s a $2.5 billion industry in the U.S. alone.

Online Dating Magazine estimates that there are approximately 2,500 dating sites in the U.S. for every conceivable group and more than 5,000 worldwide. The users’ success rate overall, social analysts say, is pretty dismal. Although there are happy-ever-after stories, getting back into the dating scene after divorce or post-relationship may bring encounters with serial daters or commitment-phobes—or no one at all.

But wait. There’s speed dating with no prescreening or scrutinizing. Here an equal number of men and women sit across from each other and have five minutes to make a perfect first impression before rotating to the next participant. Pretty exhausting.

The rules have changed but so has everyone over 40. We’ve built successful lives and careers, raised families, developed lasting friendships, been in and out of relationships, and now it’s time for a new start.

Dating like a grownup means getting past old dating habits and behavior—not replaying the old recordings and newsreels still in your head—and checking ancient baggage at the door. Navigating the single life after a long hiatus is an adventure that’s no longer fueled by the raging hormones of our 20s. Definitely a good thing.

A local attorney who is actively dating after years spent focusing on her career put it this way: “It’s nice to enjoy a candlelight dinner with someone who gazes into my eyes instead of his smartphone.”

Yes, and there’s more to meeting someone than online sites and Facebook. Friends are a great resource. According to statisticbrain.com, in 2017, 20 percent of committed relationships began online but 60 percent began through a friend. And the Pew Research Center says that 88 percent met their significant others offline, mostly through friends.

That’s how it happened with local writer and retired professional counselor, Vic Cruikshank. Following a divorce, he tried the online shopping lists, meet-ups and other singles activities without success. “Online dating was a great experience for a writer collecting material, but otherwise a waste of time for me.”

Finally at 62, he decided it was okay to not be married or have a partner and ditched his preconceived ideas and expectations. “I had settled into a happy singleness and wasn’t trying for anything except friendship,” he says. He went about his life doing the things he enjoyed and not worrying about dating.

Then one day friends introduced him to Cindy. Without thunderbolts or crashing waves, they developed a strong friendship. But, he says, they never “dated.” Instead, they hung out doing mutually interesting activities and discovered how much they had in common. They have been married nearly two years, and “I’m married to my best friend.” On reflection, he adds, “Grownup dating sounds more like honesty to me.”

Romance in the time of maturity is the best of all worlds. And love and friendship are the icing on the cake.

Happy Valentine’s Day. Make Cupid happy.

 

Things to think about when getting ready to date:

• It’s a ew era, men no longer call the dating shots, and women are equal opportunity daters.

• You’re independent with a healthy self-image, confidence, good manners, empathy and a sense of humor. You’ve earned respect.

• You can finally be yourself.

• A date is a two-way audition.

• Dating is the opportunity to get to know someone. Remember the song from The King and I: “Getting to know you…getting to hope you like me.”

• Fancy dinners are nice, but so is a walk in the park, a day at the zoo.

• Getting “out there” means exactly that.

• All the good ones are not taken.

• Don’t hide a previous marriage or relationship, or drag it through the mud. It’s part of who you are.

• Technology has changed the way people communicate, but it still takes two to have a conversation.

• If finding someone else to share life with isimportant, treat it like a project of high importance.

• Remember the threeentities in a healthy developing relationship: “I,” “You,” and “We.”

• This is the best time of your romantic life.

• Keep your mobile phone handy.