With the high divorce rate and more transient nature of relationships in 2019, more people are dating in midlife than ever before. Factor in the growth of online dating, dating apps, and dating through social media and the entire dating culture has dramatically changed. Change can be good, change can be bad, and in the case of midlife dating change can be outright ugly. For those who are out in the trenches, here is a summary of the realities of dating over 40.
First let’s start with the positive news. Internet dating whether through sites, social media or apps has made it easier than ever to meet a wide range of people who you would otherwise never have the opportunity to meet. Connecting with the potential love of your life can be done from the comfort of your own home simply by putting up a profile and messaging with prospective dates. Many sites and apps are free so there is no financial requirement, your time is really the only investment. Never has it been so easy to connect with other singles when you are busy juggling careers, children, aging parents and other demands on your time.
It’s these multiple demands on your time that form the basis for the bad part of dating in midlife. Work, children, fitness, family obligations and many other responsibilities pose significant constraints on your time. Often it can be challenging to even find a free night to date, let alone the energy to go out. Custody and access schedules can also complicate things as prospective daters may have opposite weekends and need to get agreement from their ex-spouse to change things. In addition, so many people at this stage of life have so much stress to manage, they want to keep their personal life as stress free and positive as possible. Dating often involves a roller coaster of emotions and potential drama, so many people end up choosing to avoid it altogether. Many midlife men and women find that they enjoy being single, making their own decisions, and not having to make the compromises they made over the years in relationships. This has created a world where less people are really looking for a serious, long-term relationship and more people are looking for just casual, fun relationships that end up lacking any meaningful connection.
Casual fun and a lack of meaningful connection give rise to the outright ugly part of midlife dating. Modern daters have so many options so easily available that they treat each other as if they are a disposable commodity. Courtship has become a thing of the past, and everyone always thinks they can “do better” with the next swipe or click of their mouse. Manners and etiquette are often forgotten as people date multiple people at once and they disappear without a word when they think they have found someone “better”. For someone coming out of a marriage this modern dating culture can be both depressing and a blow to an already fragile self esteem. What at first may have seemed exciting and ego boosting, can quickly turn into something demeaning and undermining of one’s ego.
While midlife dating has both positive and negative qualities, unless you are planning to remain single the rest of your life following a break up, dating is the only alternative you have. As long as it is approached with a realistic understanding of the pros and cons, it can be fun and if nothing else it can provide you with funny stories to tell at your next cocktail party.