Do Dating Rules Change After 40?

Not to stir up the already buzzing hornet’s nest but your days of requiring that a man have a financial plan in place and be financially stable are behind you.

It’s a bitter pill for many women 40 and over to swallow. Men in their age range probably aren’t looking for any kind of a formal commitment. If they are they’re dating women in their mid thirties or younger.

I hate to put it so bluntly but I think you need to accept that most of the men you’re meeting don’t plan on dating anyone for very long. Your focus now should be finding someone you’re attracted to and whose company you enjoy and forget about his living quarters and portfolio. – Yoram

Soooo….let’s see how this comment goes over.

I’ve mentioned before that my attitude towards commitment has changed a bit over the last year or so. While I’m not opposed to marriage, I don’t feel that it is a reasonable expectation for me right now. Maybe when I’m older and there are fewer issues that might interfere like sex drives and career goals. Right now, I’m focused more on my own individual life plan than anything else. It’s has certainly taken some pressure off me and allowed me to just enjoy a relationship without worrying about where it’s going. I don’t like the idea of dying alone or getting sick, but it’s a reality.

Because of this shift in my thinking, I’m less concerned with finding someone who will be a good provider for us. As long as he can provide for himself I’m satisfied. I don’t plan on merging finances or households for some time. I have a Bachelor’s degree from a decent school, but nowadays a Bachelor’s doesn’t mean much. So a man doesn’t have to be “well educated.” (Though I do prefer he have at least one degree.)

Basically, all the things I considered important in my thirties don’t really factor in to my decisions anymore. Is he happy and an honest/kind person, am I attracted to him, can he support himself. That’s really all I care about.Credit scores and renting vs. owning and financial security don’t really play in to my decision any more.

At our He Said/She Said event the other night, one man of 40 asked whether the fact he was 25K in debt as well as had a mortgage to pay was going to be a deal breaker for a woman. Another man interjected and said that he felt a man his age with that kind of debt was “a loser.” Translation? “I’m not that much in debt. I’m better.” (Keep in mind that the man who asked the original question was in attendance. Filters, kids. They’re you’re friend.)

While watching the movie Shame with a friend last night, we both remarked at how horribly awkward one particular first date conversation was. The woman, who was recently separated, asked the main character how long his longest relationship was. He said 4 months. She seemed horrified at his response,  ignoring the fact that her brief marriage failed and that she wasn’t even divorced and she was already dating. Guess what, folks? She still had sex with him and wanted to see him again.

The point I’m struggling to make with these two scenarios is that I believe we come up with a list of must haves and standards that, ultimately, are worthless. These bullet points are just our way of selling ourselves. The woman in sceanrio two could look down on her date because she at least got married. The guy in the first example could tell himself that the men succeeding where he had failed were “losers.”

We don’t really require that this criteria be met. I think we use them more as a shield more than anything else. They serve as an excuse for us not to settle because we need to believe we “deserve” better or have more value. That, and not an actual relationship, seems to provide many people with comfort.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I agree with Yoram’s comment to some extent. I don’t think anybody should give up on wanting to find a life partner. I do think that as we grow older we need to shift our focus and expectations a bit. A person of 40 or 45 who has never married or settled in to something long-term probably chose that path for themselves, consciously or unconsciously. So it seems futile to expect that person to change for us. That seems unrealistic, no? If they’re divorced, are they really eager to give that a go a second time?

I know people will say I’m being negative or that I’ve given up. I haven’t given up on having a relationship or on love or anything of that kind. Maybe I just accepted the fact that if I had truly wanted to be married or settled in to something by this point in my life, and not just told myself I did, that I probably would be. Is that such a horrible realization? Or are we only supposed to think that but never say it out loud?

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26 Responses to “Do Dating Rules Change After 40?”

  1. The D-man Says:

    Life got a lot easier and more enjoyable for me when I let go of the idea that there is some kind of script I have to follow: marriage, kids, climbing the ladder, retirement, grandkids, death. While I’m not opposed to getting married again, I would definitely need to be talked into it. Hollywood sells “forever ever after” but these days I’m more interested in “the next six months after.” Unless you want kids, I don’t see a reason to think much more than 6-12 months out anyway (obviously you should plan for emergencies and retirement, but I’m talking about relationships).

    I used to get lonely, but between frequent conversations with close friends, loving my work, a healthy lifestyle and the Internet (for entertainment), I feel really lucky to be alive right now and that I have everything I need to be happy at this moment. So I choose happiness now instead of waiting for someone else to bring it to me.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 52 Thumb down 0

    • Shangie Says:

      D-man, I am your female counterpart. except I am happily married most of the time.. what people don’t realize from lack of studying history, is that love and marriage, etc. is a relatively new social concept in the history of mankind and religion and media and marketing are really trying to corral us to behave in ways that are deemed beneficial to society and the pocketbooks of everyone needing to sell you on what a loser you are unless you have purchased this and that or achieved this and that.

      Religions purpose in society is to tame us so to speak and to support the evil empire that organized religion is.

      Media’s purpose is to control us so that we do what those in power need us to do, including how we perceive our lives and the lives of others.

      Marketing’s purpose is to beat us into submission so we spend money on whatever they are selling, from a political stance to a fashion item.

      We humans are desperate for connection so we fall prey to those are smarter than us and abuse us, therefor exploit us, to gain power. We no longer have the village that was our family where we hunted and gathered together, caring for the survival of the entire village. Whether we liked them or not, our fellow tribesman were a part of the clan and we cared about the clan.

      Now we are fed a line of crap to be so independent we women will screw each other over to compete for the attention and support of males during biological urge periods, the reproductive years. The behavior from that can spill over into our menopausal years.. It used to be that the female members of a tribe looked out for each other as well as they could. There is even a belief that males were kind to women and children until organized religion appeared and brainwashed men into believing it was acceptable to abuse and use women and abandon their offspring.

      How many of us ever discover our true selves? How many countless hours and dollars do women spend trying to look good? Tens upon tens of thousands of hours and dollars-money that could be in savings for security. How many hours are spent on hair, makeup and fashion that could have been spent on time with loved ones, your own children, your own interests and hobbies?

      How many men focus their lives on looking smarter and richer than others and ignore doing what might be more meaningful because marketing tells them that in order to be someone they have to reach a certain status in life?

      The older we get, the better some of us get a figuring out all this and when we think it through we realize we want closeness and intimacy because when it is right it is like having a village but with someone you can enjoy sexual intimacy with, if that is what you are seeking. You can adopt children if wanting children is so necessary to your fulfillment in life, you can commit to serial dating if you absolutely love the company of the opposite sex but do not want to bring them home every night!

      Hubby and I are so compatible because we do not make each other responsible for each other’s physical, financial or emotional well being. We met in our later years and we enjoy friendship, team effort when a negative arises, intimacy and the end of the day together when our careers allow for that. No nagging. he knows how to feed and clothe himself and we hire the house cleaning out and pay to have groceries delivered. Perfect. If he leaves me for someone else then I will know he was needing something else and I would wish him the best.

      I am asking everyone to really think about what is driving your need to hunt down a mate? Once you can honestly pin point that you will start to understand more about yourself and perhaps even that fear of loneliness, or not having a family or financial needs is not an honest reason to hook up with anyone. If you have a personal hidden agenda that involves getting your needs met and that is why you are hunting for a mate, then spend a year giving yourself the things you expect someone else to give you such as financial security. Check into adoption and the costs of raising a child if having a child is critical to your happiness. Sex: well that’s easy. There are clubs in every city were people advertise for casual sex. Intimacy-what is that? Your partner may be out there but he or she is not going to be found until you are restored to an honest agenda mentality with no manipulation of another to get your way. No one deserves to be hunted down and manipulated to serve your needs. In every situation, ask yourself “Am I being pure?”

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 2

  2. fuzzilla Says:

    Apparently I gave D-man two thumbs up (unless someone was double-teaming me).

    I’m in the process of trying to switch careers, or at the very least get a new job right now and hustle more money. I even considered moving back home with my mom (IF AND ONLY IF I get into this school program I applied to. The coursework is very time consuming with some semesters requiring 40 hours a week out of you, and I just don’t see how I can work enough to pay rent if school is that demanding. I’ve heard of people using student loan money for rent, but that seems pretty dumb to me as you have to pay it back. IF I moved home, I would have a definite, time limited reason why I was doing so, and would do so because I was very busy pursuing specific goals).

    Or I might just work two jobs or something, who knows. Anyway I thought – wow, what would dating be like if I moved home? I couldn’t fault guys for being like ‘pfft, loser,’ as I just might feel that way myself. So I guess I’d adapt by adjusting my expectations and being more open to casual situations, internet flirting, fuckbuddies…keeping a stable of them so I didn’t get too attached. Just focus on fun and companionship and meeting at least some of my needs if I know that school has to be #1 and I’m not in a stable position to build a life with someone. Hell, maybe I should have that attitude now. It would be delightful to meet someone who saw my potential and was willing to wait ’til I was done with school, but I surely shouldn’t count on that. Like buying a lottery ticket – you wouldn’t do it if there wasn’t at least some chance of winning, yet you understand and accept the odds are against you.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  3. Karen Says:

    The criteria will change even more when you get to be 50. I don’t take that as “settling”. Status seems less important. Its more about finding a good companionship that doesn’t bring drama or excess baggage in dealing with children and ex’s, financial constraints in dealing with those things. The guy that said 25K was excess…wow. Some people will owe that in child support over the years alone. I’m over the self important ego’s.

    I haven’t looked for a “relationship” in such a long time I am happier because of it. In your 20′s, 30′s & 40′s always trying to prove that you are someone worthwhile are long gone. I am open to it, just not chasing it or trying to be something to “fit” into someone else life.

    I for one, do not believe that marriage is the recipe in having it all and having happiness. Age/wisdom has taught me that.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 21 Thumb down 3

  4. The Private Man Says:

    Well, shit.

    I’m 50.

    I ain’t givin’ up.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 51 Thumb down 0

  5. icara Says:

    I agree with D-man. I have kid drama and ex drama and although I’d still like to find the fairy tale, I’m not even sure it fits into my life. The financial stuff would be important if I were to get married, because I’m not in a position to take on any more financial responsibility. But marriage itself? Not a goal per se. It wasn’t that good an experience the first time around.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  6. Christina Says:

    I don’t think anyone has to give up, at any age. When I was dating, I ran into a lot of men in their mid-to-late-forties who were looking to marry again and they wanted women in their mid-thirties and up, hopefully with grown or no children.

    Yes, you will make it harder on yourself if you have too many criteria. I expect a man my age to be able to take care of himself financially, but there’s nothing wrong with a modest lifestyle. Daters should also keep in mind that the recent recession created financial catastrophes for a lot of people who would otherwise be doing well. A sense of superiority and self-righteousness will do nothing to help you find a good companion. It just adds to feeling that seems to be so common: “I’m too good for all of the losers out there who want to date me.”

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 29 Thumb down 0

  7. Craig Says:

    The rules of the dating game definitely change after 40. They change after every decade of your life. It doesn’t mean you give up, it means you just have to make adjustments to your new reality. The kind of lovers you could pull in your 20s and 30s are now going to be out of your league in your 40s. This goes for men and women. So you adjust your expectations accordingly and then you’ll be fine. I don’t want to hear any talk of giving up. There’s a lid for every pot – you just have to be realistic and make an effort to keep putting yourself out there until you find yours.

    As an aside, the person who said anyone who was $25k in debt is a loser is dead wrong. Most younger adults have significant debt if they own major assets like a home, boat, or a car. Due to my mortgage, auto loan, and student loans, I am in a hell of a lot more debt than $25k. I wish all I owed was $25k – I could pay that amount off in cash. It’s not how much debt you have that matters, it’s whether it’s responsible debt and whether you can afford to pay for it without being broke. I easily afford my debt load with plenty left over because of the affluence that resulted from the education those student loans paid for. That’s not bad debt, it’s a wise investment in oneself.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 35 Thumb down 2

    • Selena Says:

      Craig, “I don’t want to hear any talk of giving up. ” Made me smile. I love this positive post. We need more of them here. :)

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  8. L. Says:

    They don’t have to change unless you want them to … i.e. unless you’ve absolutely decided that that is the best thing for you. Granted, dating gets infinitely more difficult after 40. We get more jaded, many divorcees ask why they should do it again, and many of the single people who are left would be in committed relationships if they were capable (not ALL, but many).

    Finding that right person truly becomes more like looking for a “needle in a haystack”. But it’s not impossible if that is what you really want. I know I intend to continue to try. And frankly, I think the prospect of being sick alone or of dying alone should never be the primary motivation, but I do also think it is something that should never leave ones mind because it’s a very good reason to have a partner. I am watching my Dad right now who is very very ill, and my Mom is there every day for him. I keep asking how it would feel if that were me and I was alone with no one coming to visit me. Believe me people, you may not think much about this and how you would feel at 40, but you will as you start to approach the years where your parents and older relatives become ill. It’s a terrible time to feel lonely.

    I’m not saying that one has to continue through age 40/50/60 with a rigid plan in mind … have kids, get the home with the wraparound porch, etc. That plan needs to be altered somewhat. But to me, I think it’s reasonable to still expect to find a life’s partner and that’s what I intend to do.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 11 Thumb down 2

  9. Deen Says:

    The rules of dating have changed, PERIOD. I don’t think everyone of a certain age range play by the same rules; it all depends on where you are in your life, how content you are with your life and what you’re looking to add to your life. I’m 30, and although id like to get married and maybe have a kid, it’s isn’t the end all; either way, i’ll make the most of it. I enjoy dating, relationships, companionships and the variety of it all. Ideally, id have a lover on every continent, but that’s another topic.

    I have friends in my age range who want marriage, but also want separate households, and others who don’t want kids at all. Relationships and commitments can be whatever those two people want. Even in a marriage, there are no guidelines, there’s no ‘cookie-cutter, this is what a marriage is suppose to be’ template; its whatever outline those two people have drawn out for themselves. It’s when people get into the game of competing with others or trying to conform to the pressure of society or friends/family that they find themselves in a relationship, situation, or state of mind that isn’t healthy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 3

    • L. Says:

      There are no “cookie-cutter guidelines”, but there are general guiding principles of commitment that apply to a marriage (and there are general guiding principles of decency and courtesy and caring that apply to committed relationships between two people who love one another). The problem in today’s world (vs. 40 years ago) is that we’re all so self-entitled and spoiled that many are not willing to fullfill those commitments. Sure, some people want kids … some don’t. Some people want to live in the city, some in the burbs. But I’m talking about commitments and “selflessness” towards the other person that nothing should trump.

      It’s not a matter of competing with others or conforming to the pressures of society. It’s a matter of not being selfish and having the ability to look past one’s needs (some of the time) and give of onesself to nuture and contribute to the other person’s betterment. Inasmuch as there are no specific “rules”, there really kinda are … they are unwritten. The people that have embraced those “unwritten rules” are the people who are sitting at home with their families right now or who are in successful long-term relationships.

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 1

  10. Kurt Says:

    The dating rules would have to change for women over 40. I have generally heard that most single 45-year-old women will have to go for men 5-10 years older to get commitment, but do women really want a man that old? I would bet that a lot don’t and therefore probably won’t end up in a truly committed long-term relationship anytime soon.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 12 Thumb down 5

    • L. Says:

      Agreed. Look at the typical female dating profile. Most women’s ranges barely go a few years to their senior. I’m not sure what makes so many 45 y/o women feel that they have to much to offer that they shouldn’t cast a wider net in terms of age range. But then again, men have been looking mostly younger for ages and I suppose in today’s world, they feel that they should have the same right.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 4

    • Jamie Says:

      Indeed… single men I’ve met over 45 tend to have medical and head issues that make them unable to sustain, and a lot of them don’t even want anything more than a cuddly friendship, and I don’t need that. It’s not about looks for me, it’s about ability and desire (and yeah, I’m not sloppy but wasn’t even a beauty at 29 let alone 49, but if it was about my looks or ability, then the younger ones should have more problems, not fewer). Maybe if they are married, they address the issues, but when they’re single, why bother?

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  11. Mr. R Says:

    Moxie, I think you should jump on eHarmony and see what happens. Hey, it worked for me. :)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  12. mari Says:

    I am 50 – don’t think it is hard to date at 50 – true I have met people that I don’t have anything in common with, not attracted too, have too much drama, but I have also met and dated great guys. And nice that I am not necessarily looking for marriage, already have kids, so now looking for someone to have a nice time with, companionship, sleep with, etc…much easier than at 20 something for some reason. Thinking have learned something over my 50 years…and so am much clearer about who I am, and what sort of person I like/works well with my personality…just in time :)!

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  13. AmyRose Says:

    I can appreciate what Moxie is saying. She is being a realist.
    If I summed the countless hours of my youth where I spent time
    being boy crazy or trying to heal from heartache it would amount to at least 20 yrs total I am sure.
    As the great Gilda Radner once said “there’s always something”..
    and it’s a constant process to get out of our own way and let things play out.
    The problem is the over thinking and it tends to put us in a holding pattern.
    I recently became engaged. Our libidos are not matched and it has been a major sore spot
    for me. Women spend thier whole lives focused on the outside (some more than others)
    and past the age of 40 when men don’t fawn us with attention and we date someone our
    age it feels like being put out to pasture. Trying not to take it personally has been
    an everyday struggle. But all of the other criteria Moxie points out
    Is spot on. So do I not marry the guy because I am sexually frustrated?
    No. That would be idiotic. It can be figured out. I think that historically Women seem to get the short
    End of the stick when it comes to marriage and fidelity. Taking control of ones life like Moxie
    has is part of the steps needed to change that way of thinking and being in relationships.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 3

  14. Allan Says:

    If I am not planning on raising a family with a woman I see no point in any commitment. If we get along as friends, then that’s all well and fine.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 4 Thumb down 9

    • anon Says:

      Amen, brotha. We’re all thinking this, don’t kid yourself.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 6

    • Joe Says:

      You don’t see any point in commitment, Alan? This is why the women and men are both in this massive head game. If you are not looking to stay, then you are looking for sex until something better comes along. I didn’t say stay for eternity… but you need to say that you’re at least in until you’re not. And if you’re not in, I would hope there would be some reason that you could explain to her.

      I think women don’t explain themselves well or move on for non-obvious reasons– their motivations are not always as clear cut as mens’. They often sacrifice their relationships to accommodate their children or other family members. Or women overthink the problems before they are there. Men tend to live in the moment more than women, which I think speaks to Alan’s comment about not needing or wanting commitment.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 2

  15. OhDear Says:

    Dating over 40 just doesn’t sound very appealing IMHO. What’s the point of avoiding all the dudes you could never “settle” for in your prime years only to pick up those same men now that you’re infertile and they’ve already lived their lives so have no use for you but to have sex with you on their terms. Smh. I dont get it.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 5 Thumb down 8

    • anon Says:

      Sooo…. you’re just going to sit alone? If that’s your preference, then that’s just great. Why do you assume that we “don’t have any use for you but to have sex with you on our terms”? We might actually like you. You might actually like us. You might actually enjoy sex, too. So, what are these “terms” that are exclusively the man’s? If you don’t want to hang out, or have sex, or any combination of the above, you’re free to do as you please. As are we. If it works – for all parties involved – then that’s great. If it doesn’t, well, it doesn’t. It’s not that complicated.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

    • ruby Says:

      haha, i think your comment is funny. i relate. it can be really depressing to see the kind of guys that are attracted to you once you near 40, and i’ve preferred to be celibate, just because i can be friends with someone i’m not physically attracted to, but i see no point in going beyond that unless there’s that attraction. of course you can always go for younger men…most men are always available…but that has its consequences, which are obvious.
      it really does get a lot tougher to find attractive men my age who are attracted to me, and with whom i have things in common. i didn’t expect it to be this difficult, but i should have seen it coming. good thing is it gives you a lot of time to focus on what you’ve always wanted to to do, with no distractions. and to live with loneliness until you get beyond it and learn to be happy by yourself- something i never learned because i always had someone attractive waiting in line.
      so there is a silver lining.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  16. Deborah Says:

    As long as people don’t start expecting that ALL people’s expectations and feelings shift. I have never been married, I want exactly what a 25 year old woman wants. I am not being treated like a 25 year old woman. But I even have a touch of ASD which makes me socially around age 25, and I get along so great with younger men!

    I don’t know what to do. It’s getting horrible. I’m not interested in 40 year old men.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  17. julie Says:

    Was that supposed to encourage us to stay in the game, because it didnt work. I just turned 38 and knowing my hope of ever finding a man for more than a night of “fun” because i cant expect to hold onto him since he will be too busy boinking all of the throngs of desperate 40-somethings while he waits to settle down with someone 10 years my junior….well…..yeah, not encouraging.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

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