If you are a single woman over 40, I have a question for you: When you look at yourself today, are you the same person you were in your 20s or 30s? Have many of your priorities changed? Has experience taught you new life skills and shifted your perspective on things you previously held as absolute truths?
And what about when it comes to dating and relationships? Have you updated your “checklist” for the 55-year-old men you are dating; choosing not to judge them like you did 35 year olds? Have you learned that your worth is far more than whether a man wants you, and that you are okay with yourself; whether or not you have a partner?
If you’re like me, the answer is probably a resounding “yes” to these questions. You’ve probably opened your mind to new ideas, and perhaps closed your mind to others. You’ve learned life skills that have brought you success, both at work and at home.
In fact, you’re probably feeling damn smart at this point in your life. And you should! You have achieved a lot, and gained a ton of knowledge and skills over the years. Together, this has rendered you one wise woman.
Well, like us, men change and evolve. I can hear you shout, “I know that!” (I’m even tempted to throw a “duh” in here.) But in my work as a Dating and Relationship Coach for Women over 40, I often help women who say they know this, yet still tend to make assumptions about men based on stereotypes and expectations that originated in their teenage years and lingered.
Like you, men in midlife and beyond have experienced, matured and created good lives for themselves and these men can make fantastic partners. Yes, there are some outliers, just like there are women dating like they are still in their 20s. But if you make the mistake of assuming all men are childish, it’s likely the grown-up good guys are going to pass you by.
Here are three common misconceptions about men that are based on when we were dating boys:
1. Grown-up men do not chase.
Even if they once were, they no longer see the value and have dumped it as a hobby. Why? First, the woman-to-man ratio is now in their favor and they don’t have to compete like they did in their 20s. Also, their hormones have mellowed and they have broadened their vision of themselves; reducing the need (and sometimes ability) to rack up sexual conquests.
Finally, the grown-up men who have achieved success in life know how to how to get what they want. If they think you are unattainable, uninterested or you don’t have space for them in your life they will move on. They won’t waste their time on something (or someone) they can’t win.
What does this mean for you, the single woman in her 40s, 50s or beyond trying to connect with a good man? It means when you meet someone you are interested in, you need to let him know! It’s not about being aggressive — like asking him out or jumping into bed with him. It’s simply about giving him a clear signal that, if he asks, you will say yes. Tell him you very much look forward to talking with him again sometime. Tell him that you had a great time and would like to do it again. Compliment him. Receive graciously. These are all ways to show clear interest.
The old idea of “the rules” and making him chase you not only doesn’t fly with grown-up dating, it turns off the smart, commitment-minded men you are probably trying to meet. These men are not into playing games or climbing your wall of “I dare you.” They just want to meet a nice woman, have an easy time getting to know her and hopefully meet a wonderful partner to share the rest of a great life.
2. Grown-up men are willing to communicate.
Like you, they have many years of professional and personal circumstances that required them to develop effective communication skills. You can talk to men and they will talk back; and even listen! This is good news. You can be open, honest and direct without playing games. Tell him what you want, what you don’t want (in a kind way) and your true feelings. There is still the question of timing, and effective communication with the opposite sex requires a special language. (That is a whole other story for another time.) But chances are that he won’t run away like the mute scaredy cats you dated twenty years ago.
Grown-up men want to know they can make you happy. If you don’t make them guess how, and are willing to cut out the drama of unjustified disappointment…you will likely find your life changing with all the men around you. So tell them how to make you happy, and if they like you they will do it, get it or create it! And if not, they (or you) will move on. Either way, you win!
3. Grown-up men would rather be alone than with the wrong woman.
In our 20s and 30s we are looking for someone with whom we can create our life. Now we are looking for someone to enhance what we already have created. We are looking for a good fit, not potential. Just like you, these guys have figured out that their life is just fine and that being with the wrong person is way worse than being with themselves.
This is why men often seem to have a great time with you, yet you never hear from them again. It just means he liked you, but doesn’t see you fitting into his life. (Men can be smarter about this than us gals. They tend to be better about not trying to fit a round peg in a square hole…so to speak.) So if you don’t hear from him, just know he knew something about himself or his life that meant you weren’t meant for each other.
If finding love with an adult, interesting, committed man is on your dream list, consider opening your mind to see him as such. If being with you doesn’t greatly enhance his life, he’d rather be alone. And I know you would too.
If you like him, show him, and let him know there is room in your life for a man. Lastly, don’t make him guess what you want. Tell him how he can make you happy. The right man will love you for it. And you just might love him back!