Finding love in midlife is hard. Dating second time round can be both daunting and bewildering especially when the rules have changed so much since you were last out there – and no doubt you have, too.
The Daily Mail reports that the good news is, that as a leading relationship coach and author, with 20 years of experience helping individuals to become stronger, happier versions of themselves, particularly after relationship break-ups, I can help you navigate this new world.
It’s not them, it’s you
To find love, you must rediscover your identity as an individual first, otherwise how can you know who would suit you?
Ask yourself, what makes me happy? What did I enjoy when I was younger? If I could choose anything to do now, what would it be? Identify what interests you and act on it.
This shifts your focus. It can’t, and mustn’t, be all about finding someone. Then, figure out what values are most important to you.
Love, security, passion, adventure, stability, honesty, drive? Work out your top five values for a relationship, and rank them.
If stability is your priority, and you meet a man whose number one value is adventure, however much you love each other, that relationship is going to be tricky.
He’ll want to jump out of planes and climb mountains, which will constantly challenge your most cherished value and make you unhappy.
Ditch your friends
Who you spend time with directly impacts how you feel about yourself, as well as your opportunities to meet new people.
Often your closest friends are not the most helpful in this particular area of our lives.
Don’t always retreat to your safe space – the old friend who says: ‘We’ll stay in, get a takeaway.’
Be brave, push through your comfort zone, or you’ll remain stuck. Book a retreat or a cookery course and go alone.
Chances are you’ll only do it on your own once because you’ll create new friendships with people in a similar situation – people, who are, like you, being positive about finding love.
Yes, you are ready
These days you can date from your sofa, in your pyjamas. You just go online. A lot of my clients say, ‘I’m not ready!’ My advice is, ‘You’ll never be ready, just do it.’
Dating from home will build you up. You’ll get a few ‘likes’, and chat for a bit, then realise ‘people want to meet me’.
That will motivate you to take control of whatever is denting your confidence. A lot of my clients feel they’ve let themselves go.
Face what worries you – weight, fitness, lifestyle – and enjoy changing. Present the person you want your date to see.
Learn the rules
Not everyone out there is honest about their motivation, and it’s important you attract a partner for the right reasons.
So how do you find love, but protect yourself?
As well as listing the values you’d like in a partner, also write your list of five ‘Must Not Haves’.
Your main focus should be on what you do want, but you must be certain of your Red Flag Deal-Breakers.
That means you absolutely will not date someone with those qualities.
That could be ‘I won’t tolerate a man who lies’ or ‘I won’t date a woman with young children’.
Red Flags protect you from getting hurt and allow you to say: ‘This isn’t going to work for me.’
You will understand early on that the relationship can only be short-term.
The dating game has changed, so be prepared to play by the new rules. If you’re meeting people online, it’s normal to date more than one person.
That means chatting to and engaging with up to six people at a time.
You might arrange coffee with three or four. But only when you’ve had the chat ‘Are we exclusive?’ is it a strictly monogamous relationship. Until then, expect them to date other people, too.
Don’t be a limpet!
When searching for love, you can’t look for someone to fill the emotional gaps in you – you’ve got to fill those gaps yourself. You need to heal any hurt or upset you’re carrying yourself.
In my clinic, I often see clients who are unhappy because they don’t like being alone, so their criteria for a new partner is ‘do they have a pulse?’ and ‘they showed me a sign of affection’.
People like this go into what I call ‘limpet mode’ – they sucker themselves to anyone who shows a glimmer of interest and bombard them with messages. It scares the person off.
You have to find a way of accepting yourself, of loving your own strengths and weaknesses.
Part of this is having a positive outlook and enough self-awareness to be good company. Don’t point out you’re having a bad hair day or detail every woe.
Think of a few fun, upbeat topics of conversation. That said, if what you project is not the real you, you’re wasting your time.
Has this tech team cracked dating for over-50s?
The over-50s have been neglected by dating sites for years, says expert Charly Lester.
‘So many friends have approached me over the past six years and said: ‘My parents have just got divorced. ‘What dating site would you recommend for my mum?’ And I just didn’t have an answer for them. ‘I’d explain I’d spoken to women in their 50s and 60s and that, honestly, I didn’t have a site or an app I could recommend because their experiences had been quite miserable.’
It was, she explains, that old problem of men wanting to date younger women, while women tended to prefer men of their own age.
Many women in their 50s would sign up excitedly to a dating site only to be ignored. So, given 7.5 million over 50s in Britain are single, divorced or widowed, Charly decided to invent the first over50s app, designed to use on your smartphone.
Launched last September, Lumen hit the headlines almost immediately – but not necessarily for the right reasons.
You may have seen their Sexy Santa ad campaign just before Christmas where a fit, silver-haired guy was pictured shirtless, holding a plate of mince pies (‘Pull A Cracker This Christmas’).
It caused a storm, with accusations of objectifying men. The ad was banned by Transport For London.
Charly is unrepentant. They used a photo of a real-life model, Paul Orchard (age 58), to show mature daters can be sexy and have a sense of fun. ‘That shouldn’t be news to anyone – yet the fact that it became a national news story shows it is.’
Then, last week, Lumen revealed its most successful fifty-something users – all of whom looked eminently datable – causing another media storm.
The result is that Lumen is not only one of the most talked about dating apps, but more than 250,000 singles have signed up, making it the most popular app for over-50s in the UK.
Ironically, it took two tech-savvy thirtysomethings to come up with the idea. Do they really know what it’s like to be single after divorce or bereavement? Or the horror of being the only fifty-something woman on a singles holiday?
Perhaps not, but both do have experience of online dating.
Despite her youthful appearance, Charly, 35, has been a dating consultant for six years. She used to be an agony aunt for website eharmony and is the creator of The Dating Awards, the Oscars for the online dating industry. Currently single, she uses dating apps.
Her business partner Antoine Argouges, 30, previously at dating apps Badoo and Bumble, met his wife on a French dating app.
‘I enjoy making products that change people’s lives as much as one changed mine,’ he says.
Charly says this sets them apart. ‘We know the pitfalls, we know the frustrations. So we’ve tried to work functionality into the app.’
Which means making it as easy as possible to meet genuine, likeminded singles in a safe space.
In fact, over-50s have been a forgotten generation in tech. Until recently you couldn’t even create a Tinder account if you were over 50.
And even now you get lumped into the 55+ category (with no chance to show your individual age).
Most dating services aimed at fifty-somethings started as websites used on a home computer (eharmony, Our Time, Plenty of Fish) or matchmaking agencies.
The feeling was that ‘mature daters’ like me wouldn’t find apps easy to navigate. But now 73 per cent of those aged 50 to 59 own a smartphone, Charly thinks we’re ready to embrace the technology.
(Story source: Daily Mail)