So you're in your 30s or your 40s and you're looking for love. Has it passed you by? Is falling in love harder as you age?
Research suggests the new singles — those who are back on the market after getting a divorce or becoming a widow — are still looking for love after five years. The reasons are numerous — from not getting out enough, to fear of the dating scene, to family commitments taking up any available spare time.
But if it is love you are after, all is not lost. Here are three common causes that might be holding you back and some practical tips on how you can resolve them
Re–entering the dating scene in your 30s, 40s or 50s can be scary. Times have changed since you first went off the market — there are the perils of online dating, social media and a sense that you might just be a little out of touch, alongside the all-too-adolescent fear of not being liked.
While you may be a confident and mature grown-up, there's nothing like a first date to send you whirling back to your days in high school where you worried about not being trendy enough for the cool kids. Or you might be stressed about the tick-tock of your proverbial body clock.
According to relationship experts at one of Australia's leading online dating websites, eHarmony, singles in their later years might be a little intimated by the dating scene.
"Just as life didn't end when you turned 30, it won't end at 40 or 50 either. Single or with someone, life keeps getting better for those who embrace the adventure," they say.
Sure, you may be a little bit scared of re–entering the dating scene, but don't let those insecurities get in your way.
"Choose to be bold and fearless," say the experts at eHarmony. "Know your strengths, enlist a friend who's good at pep talks to encourage you and take a few chances. Maybe it's time that you made the first move for a change."
Gail, a recently-engaged 40-year-old, agrees.
"I had to make the first move with Rob or else we would never have got together," she says. "We got along so well as friends but things just weren't moving forward. I was afraid of being rejected but ultimately I was more scared of missing out on what I thought was a great relationship!"
Between your career, your family and your social life you might be wondering whether you even have time to date. If you've been on a few dates and it just seems like it's a waste of time, you're not alone. In fact, studies show that singles hoping to find a long–term partner should engage in somewhere between 15 and 25 new dates a year to meet just a couple of potential suitors. Typically, most singles give up after four or five dates.
Dating takes time and effort. In your 30s and 40s you're probably at a high point in your career, leaving you little time (and desire) to join the nightclub scene. You are also more likely to be at a stage where you know who you are and what you want so you're less inclined to spend time on partners who don't tick all the boxes.
Experts at eHarmony suggest to save yourself the time and be honest with both yourself and your date.
"You know yourself. You have dealt with psychos, being hurt, feeling lonely and broken hearts and have finally realised that sitting in a bar until 5 a.m. dancing with teens isn't a good look. If your biological clock is ticking, discuss your goals and dreams early on in the dating stages so if your goals are different and no compromise can be made you can move on quickly to someone out there who shares similar dreams," they suggest.
Denise Ferris believes that if you want love, you need to sort out your priorities in life.
"Taking full advantage of what life could bring was my priority when I met Mike," she explains. "Loving life was my priority. I was up for anything. When we are open, life is filled with possibility. I had ended a relationship the year before and was ready for a new experience. Love is always a priority for me but love doesn't always have to take the form of a partner relationship — there are many, many ways to enjoy love!" she says.
Five weeks after meeting each other on a plane, Mike proposed and Danielle said yes. "I wasn't looking but I was open to the possibility," says Danielle. "I was focused on my own health and well-being, enjoying the pleasures of the everyday and open to all that life could bring. When you live with this perspective you have the potential to attract amazing things," she says.
So, take some time to focus on you — on what you want out of your life — and see what doors open.
Sometimes the most important relationships we have aren't with a romantic partner.
Couples who have been married before and who have children from a previous marriage may find that it's not just spare time those offspring take up, but available space in the heart as well.
Research conducted by Relationships Australia found that, of the three most important relationships a person has in their life, their children often take the top spot. In fact, 65 per cent of females nominated their son or daughter as their most important relationship compared to 54 per cent of males.
However, as singles age and kids move out of home, romantic ties become more important to help prevent loneliness from creeping in.
According to the experts at eHarmony, kids are often a factor when dating in your forties and beyond, especially if you're worried about how your offspring will react to a newcomer.
"If you have kids it's important to use discretion as to when it's appropriate to introduce them to someone new. If they're young it's important to keep them from bonding prematurely with your date. Older kids need to be kept informed about what's going on and should be able to voice their concerns. Kids need to know that you're a parent first and that they're still your priority, even when you're going on dates and spending time away from them," say the experts.
Karen, 35, found it hard to juggle time away from her baby when she re–entered the dating scene.
"Toby was only six months old when I left my husband so he was quite young when I started dating again. It was hard to explain to a two–year-old where I was going and what I was doing, just as it was hard to find dates who were willing to accommodate a single mum with a toddler!" she explains.
"But, I needed the time for myself and I knew I wanted another relationship at some point. It was important to me to meet new people and keep being myself apart from my role as a mum. I still haven't met the right one yet, but I'm happy to keep looking."
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