Dating at midlife can feel a lot more daunting than it did when you were younger, but that doesn’t need to be the case. Think about it—you’re now older, wiser, and more in tune with what you want than you were in, say, your twenties. Here’s a list of tips for embracing the experience with confidence.
- Take Things at Your Own Pace
“The biggest challenge I have with dating now is time,” explains Hannah Froelich, who is 55. “I have a very full life and a career I love, so carving out space in my schedule seems difficult sometimes. I feel more comfortable taking things slowly so I’m not allocating huge portions of my time to someone before I even know if there’s long-term relationship potential.”
Reentering the dating pool after a difficult life transition is a big deal, and you should never feel like there’s a set speed at which your dating life should progress. Always give yourself the time you need to become comfortable with changes, and know that it’s okay to move slowly—though you will need to allocate a certain amount of time to dating if you want relationships to progress. Communicating effectively with those you date is an important part of feeling comfortable, so don’t be afraid to speak up if things feel like they’re moving too fast, and don’t feel like you need to drop everything in your life to pursue dating.
- Help Yourself Feel Your Best
You should feel good about yourself as you navigate the world of dating, so take some time for self-care. Get your hair done, go shopping for some new date-suitable clothes, or sign up for a yoga class to get your dopamine levels up. “I like to go for a run before I meet someone for a date because it helps put me in a good frame of mind,” says 52-year-old Dane McElvenney, who began dating again last year after a stressful divorce.
- Enjoy Getting to Know People
If you’re dating again after divorce or the loss of a partner, it’s easy to feel dubious that you’ll find someone else you want to be with. Instead of thinking too far ahead and putting pressure on yourself, focus on simply getting to know some new people and forming friendships that may or may not turn into something more.
“When I was younger, I would just chameleon to match any man I was with,” says Froelich, who feels better about dating now than she did when she was younger. “Now I know who I am and what I like better than I did in my youth. It makes getting to know people a lot more enjoyable.”
- Make Use of Online Dating Sites
Some people falsely believe that online dating is for younger people, when that couldn’t be further from the truth. In 2015, 28% of people who used online dating sites and apps were age 45 and above, and more and more older adults are entering the world of online dating every year. Choose sites that are suited to your age and lifestyle if you want to have a bigger pool of people to potentially connect with.
“I’ve found online dating the easiest way to meet people,” says McElvenney. “We like to think the right person will just come into our lives one day, but I think we need to put in the work to find them, and online dating is a great way to do that.”
- Know It’s Okay to Feel Nervous
People of all ages get nervous before going on dates, so don’t feel overwhelmed if you catch yourself feeling scared. Dating can be full of unknowns, but many of those unknowns could turn out to be positive, and you’re free to say “Sorry, I have to go” to anything that makes you uncomfortable.
“I was so nervous before my first date in twenty-two years that I had all my girlfriends over the day of,” says 59-year-old Jennifer Richards. “We ended up chatting for hours and then dancing a lot, which eased a lot of my nerves. By the time my date came, I felt so supported that my anxiety had turned into positivity. He didn’t end up being the man of my dreams, but he helped me feel good about getting back into dating, which was really valuable.”
If you’re not feeling your most confident self while on a date, try some confidence-boosting body language. “Power poses” that keep your body open, rather than closed off, can increase testosterone levels, a natural confidence booster. Even smiling when you don’t necessarily feel like it can do wonders for your feelings about a nerve-wracking situation.
Whether you’ve just started thinking about dating again or you’ve already found your groove, remember that confidence in who you are is one of the most attractive qualities you can have. Be yourself as much as possible, and you’ll likely attract the kind of people you want to be around.