Dating in your 40s: 10 things I’ve learned

Advice on finding that special someone and the benefits of having years of dating experience



It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single, attractive, heterosexual woman over the age of 40 must be in need of a man. Or so Carrie Bradshaw would have you believe; and she is mostly right. But for me, and my three best friends, the key word is “want” rather than need. We all have fulfilling careers, lots of good friends and interesting lives. We waited a long time to focus on settling down, and now we’re facing a somewhat distressing fact of life: Once you’re over 40, there is a diminished pool of men to choose from.

So we figured out – and accepted – that the right man does not magically appear when you’re ready for him. You have to work hard to find someone you really want and really like – or, as one married male friend put it, “someone normal” (apparently normal men are in short supply). The search is a kind of journey, and along the way you tend to learn a few things about yourself, and about the society we live in.

Here’s what I’ve learned:

1. Everyone knows lots of fabulous single women in their 40s
…but can’t think of any equally fabulous single men the same age. This is one of life’s big mysteries but sometimes I think the key is identifying the right places to look.

2. When you’re over 40, you’re usually pretty comfortable in your own skin
You know what you like, and what you don’t. Maybe you would prefer to hang out at cafes, museums, film festivals and art galleries. And maybe that’s where the cool 40-something men are hanging out, too.

3. A lot of single 40-something females look and feel fantastic
They do Pilates and yoga, they’re energetic, they take care of their skin and are into healthy eating. Perhaps the benefit of not haemorrhaging energy into family stresses? When you see them sitting next to women in their late 20s and 30s you can’t see a significant age difference.

4. You can decide you don’t want children
Whether you planned for this or not, there is something liberating about taking baby-making off the table. Children are not for everyone, but there’s a lot of social pressure on women to procreate. Sometimes I wonder if we convince ourselves we want children without really examining it.

Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of Eat, Pray, Love, explains in her follow-up memoir, Commitment, that she loved her nieces and nephews but did not want children of her own. That decision can be pretty liberating – especially when you’re dating in your 40s: There’s no biological clock ticking away, which can put pressure on new relationships.

5. You don’t have to limit yourself to men in your age group
Not to feed the cougar cliché, but by the time you reach 40, the social stigma of dating younger men is so passé. In my experience, younger men really don’t care much about age differences. Also, since you’re done with the aforementioned race to beat the biological clock, you can just date who you want, when you want, for as long as they are interesting to you.

6. When you’re in your 40s, you know a lot more about the nature of sexual attraction
Sure, you’re mature enough to think someone who might not be obviously attractive is worth investing some time in, but you also know that a guy who gives you a negative feeling – either physically or intellectually – is not someone you want to see again. And since you are now a wise, mature adult (or better at acting the part), you know it’s not a big deal to cut a guy loose by telling him that you’re not feeling a click.

7. On the other hand, you might feel a huge click with a guy who doesn’t share any of your interests
But since you’re more mature and wise, you get that shared values and personality characteristics are more important than shared interests.

8. Beware the newly-divorced
You will hear a lot of people talk about snagging good catches when they’re leaving their first marriages. And in theory, that is sound. But remember that newly-divorced men come with a lot of baggage. They can be bitter. They might not know how to take care of themselves, and they might have complicated custody issues that keep them from travelling. Look before your leap.

9. You might come to realize that marriage is not for everyone
I have plenty of happily married friends; but a couple of my closest friends compromised their happiness because they were afraid to be alone. Single, independent, accomplished 40-year-olds know there’s nothing to fear in being alone.

10. Even your feminist friends will treat your single state as a project they need to fix
…and they will spend much creative energy trying to find you a match. Depending on who it’s coming from, this can be flattering or very insulting (especially the friends who urge you to compromise). But remember this: It’s only human for people to want to feel validated in their own life decisions by seeing you reflect them with your own.

Related links

Where are the (normal) single men hiding? 
The one exercise you need to ramp up your sex life 
Men and porn: Is it just a ‘guy’ thing? 
I want sex more than my husband: Am I normal?

19 comments on “Dating in your 40s: 10 things I’ve learned

  1. Men have much, much harder lives all around in this twisted and malicious and corrupt American society. Women are treated more gently all around in this crazy backwards society. You almost never hear men complaining, but women are bitching and whining all the time over their lot in life.

    Try being a man. You’ll really have something to complain about!


  2. as a single, heterosexual male in my 40’s, i find it daunting to seek someone who shares attributes & experiences. i have never been married or divorced. i don’t think having children will offer me unfulfilled happiness. i have always been sensitive & different. i am vulnerable yet my confidence sparks whenever the setting is comfortable. i don’t whine or believe in complaining about how difficult is to find true love. i know it’s hard. i know it’s never easy. it is sacrifice or work. it is commitment. this is reality. one to one.


    • I’m reading this article to understand a person who is now in her 40s trying to find happiness with a new relationship. What is interesting is how the maturity and confident she becomes about her self — as well what she is looking for in a person. I agree that finding a love will take time, effort, commitment and lots of compromising. The one thing that I realize that it is never too late to find the right partner to love and share the moments. I’m sharing a little of what I see in a special person who has take the path to find that person. I am proud of her and knowing how she value her self as a woman to become happy with her life.


    • You sound like a very passive, wimpy, pushover of a man. No woman respects a wuss. And capitalize the beginning of your sentences.


  3. Phillipcrumel


  4. When you see them sitting next to women in their late 20s and 30s you can’t see a significant age difference. — should have gone to specsavers.


    • I’m 45 and female and I was thinking that too. Even with fillers in my cheeks, nice hair and staying in shape I will never look as good as a 20 year old. Maybe a 30 year old if she’s not looking after herself. I am told that I look mid-30s bc of my self care.


  5. So many fabulous women in their 40’s? Where? I’m 47, male, have been on probably 40-50 first dates and more than a few 2nd ones, and none have kept my interest.


    • This article is disingenuous, to say the least.

      By “Everyone” knowing lots of fabulous women in their forties, she’s referring to other women knowing them, not men.

      “When you’re over 40, you’re usually pretty comfortable in your own skin.” Translation: you’re an inflexible pain in the ass.

      “You can decide you don’t want children.” It’s not a decision if you have no choice in the matter.

      “You don’t have to limit yourself to men in your age group.” Because the desirable ones don’t want you anyway.


  6. For an older person who is widowed or divorced, dating the right person can help fill a lonely void. over 40 dating can improve ones overall well-being. When an adult who is over 40 finds a compatible date mate, the relationship can provide a new lease on life and build self-confidence.


  7. We found love over 40 and know that it is a process that takes work. We both used to be negative about the prospect of finding love over 40, but now we know that it can be done and we have started a blog to help others through a serious of positive steps toward successfully finding a lasting love in their forties. We suggest that anyone hoping to find love in their forties check out our blog and get ready to do the work!


  8. This is so strange.

    I am an attorney and work in a firm with 16 other attorneys the majority of which I met in law school almost 15 years ago. Only 3 of us are married and only 2 of us are women. That leaves 11 men ages 35 or so to a little over 60 with the median age somewhere around 45. We started the firm after law school, because none of us could get a job–so we are close. My friends are mostly between the ages of 35 and 45 (we have one guy who was older when he started law school–and is now 60 or so) and are all single men. We don’t know where the single women are.

    I can tell you where the single women aren’t because we go out looking for them every weekend. If we don’t have court on Saturday–I am in a kickball league with guys from work, after our game we usually hit a place like Buffalo Wild Wings where we can have lunch. We usually hang out most of the day on Saturday going to a pro baseball, football, or basketball game together–sometimes we go to the lake and go fishing or to the beach and do some sailing. In the evening, we usually go eat at some local fish place where they have cold beer and TVs to watch the evening game. We hit a different bar from 9-11 and a few times a month will go to a club and stay from 12 till 2 am or so. . . but we are always the oldest guys in the club–women seem not to go out after the age of 28 or so.

    On Sunday we have a standing 11 am tee time at the local country club and are usually done a little after 4pm. We usually eat dinner at the club and play gin rummy, go to one of the guys houses and BBQ, or go down to one of the guys boats and BBQ and have an evening sail, or go down to the yacht club and eat oysters and drink cold beer till Uber takes us home.

    Any woman we see who is not with a man gets approached whether it is at the golf course, kickball league, fish resturant, sporting event, or club. The problem is that there are just very few women who go out and do stuff after the age of 28, and most 28 year olds don’t want guys old enough to be thier father hitting on them.

    I don’t know where the women are. I wish I did.


  9. I am a single man of 43 and know a ton of single normal guys–I have no idea where ANY single women are. Maybe it is because I live in Pacific Palisades and mostly there are only married couples and single (high net-worth) men.

    Maybe single men and women just run in different circles. I do not know.


  10. I’m in my 40s male , and I must say it would be an absolute joy to meet that someone special in my age group. I read article after article stateing how easy it is fur us guys. To me it’s an urban legend.


  11. If you think you are – and your friends are telling you – that you are a sexy, accomplished, mature, funny, interesting, woman in your 40s and you are not finding any “good men” who are into you, then the fact is that you are not all that you think you are. In my experience, women treat themselves and their friends with kid gloves. You need to be objective about what you’re bringing to the table. Good luck!!


  12. Quite a crock. From my experience , finding a single remotely attractive woman in her 40s is extremely difficult. You make it sound like there are hundreds of them floating around, and that certainly isn’t the case in Southwestern Virginia. The ones that do fall in that category are absolutely swamped with attention, to the point that dating sites for example, are a complete waste of time.


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