“Maybe it’s just not meant to be.” I could hear the hopelessness in her voice, even though she tried to convince me she was happy being single.
My former roommate was approaching the age of 40 and she was freaking out because she hadn’t found a husband. Her biological clock was ticking and since she didn’t have any prospects, she figured it’d be easier to just give up on her dreams instead of holding on to hope that she’d find real love.
I couldn’t let her give up. She was my sister-friend, and she deserved to be happy. She was beautiful, talented, giving, and a successful career woman. I knew she would make a great wife and mom.
We were hanging out in her master bedroom, with me watching her as she was cleaning out her cluttered closets. All of a sudden, I blurted out: “You gotta make room for love! Just like you’re cleaning out your closets, you gotta clean out your life so the right man can come in.” Then I told her I could see her holding a beautiful baby boy with big, round eyes.
Later that day, we went to the mall. As soon as we stepped through the doors, we saw a sign that read, “MAKE ROOM.” The building was being renovated and these signs were everywhere we looked. I knew it was a divine download. God was giving my sister-friend a lifeline of hope, but it was up to her to reach out and take it.
In a few short months, my sister-friend called me. She’d met someone! They got married a year later and she asked me to pray for her as they were trying to conceive. 2 years later, she sent me a text message that blew me away: it was a picture of a beautiful baby boy, with big round eyes!
When you’re dating in your 40s you’ll face a few unique challenges that no one else understands that can make meeting your partner more difficult than when you were younger.
1) If you don’t have children and you want them, your biological clock is ticking. It’s easy to start freaking out and feeling the pressure to meet a potential father for your child. If you’re not careful, the desire for motherhood and the devastating thought that it might not happen can consume you and lead you down the path of hopelessness.
Most women I work with either stop dating altogether or make the mistake of looking at each potential date through marriage eyes. While it’s true that more and more women are having children in their 40s, they forget that they’d have to meet a man who:
- Wants to have kids
- Is marriage material
- Wants to get married 12-18 months after they meet
- Get pregnant right away.
That’s a tall order! Having timelines and pressure on when it should happen will leave you feel anxious about relationships overall.
So how do you navigate dating in your 40s? I’ll share 3 success stories from my coaching clients who are now in happy relationships (and even on the path to marriage!)
Karen was staring 40 in the face. She was a successful attorney who wasn’t currently dating because she’d decided to take a break after a failed 5-year relationship. She always thought that marriage would just happen for her, like it did for all of her friends, so she didn’t put much thought into dating. Instead, she focused on making partner and ended up working insane hours every week. “I feel like I’m married to my job,” she told me. Coming back into the dating world, she suddenly saw her dating pool shrink. She’d always imagined dating someone her age, but it didn’t seem like those men were very interested. They were looking for sleek, “Hollywood” types when she had more Southern values even though she lived on the west coast.
Krystal’s situation was a little bit different. She’d been divorced for 10 years and had 2 almost grown children. A workaholic like Karen, Krystal had busied herself by taking care of everyone else including her ailing parents. She was a consummate “good girl” and was devastated by her divorce to her high school sweetheart. She’d only dated a few guys—mostly truck drivers—and was very disappointed in her prospects (and guarded because she didn’t want to get hurt again). She didn’t think it was possible to meet someone who was on her level and who would respect the fact that she was dating while celibate.
Jackie’s journey was different. She came to me in the throes of a 10-year on-again, off-again relationship, what she called a “long-distance booty call.” This man had wrecked her self-esteem, blaming her for all the relationship failures and for pressuring him into marriage. She couldn’t bring herself to walk away completely because she’d invested so many years of her life into the relationship and she wasn’t sure she’d be able to find anyone else at her age. She couldn’t have children and as a result, had trouble seeing her true worth as a woman.
So how did these women overcome the challenges of dating while 40 and attract a healthy, happy, relationship with the partner of their dreams?
1) They had to take back their power to define their lives.
Each woman had assumed the role of the worker bee in their family. Because they were still single at 40 plus, they were looked to as the babysitter, the caretaker or the provider. They were comfortable with this role because they it gave them a sense of certainty int eh face of an uncertain future. “At least I know my family will always love me,” Karen said. A man…he could leave me!” I had to teach them how to say NO to everyone else and start saying YES to their own desires
2) They had to face their fears
Karen almost pushed her boyfriend away because she was reluctant to think about moving away from her family. The thought of committing to him when he wasn’t a sure thing and then having to start over at her age made her feel safer staying single. All three sisters had the fear of “what if” controlling their dating decisions. What if no one likes me? What if he sees the real me and finds out I’m not as beautiful as my profile picture? What if we get married and something happens to him?
The fear of vulnerability, the fear of starting over and the fear of losing it all was tormenting these ladies. I had to put a tool in their hand to silence the voice of fear and help them find peace in living in the present instead of thinking about the future. It worked!
3) They had to be willing to release and redefine their dreams
When they were in their 20s and 30s, these sisters had a clear picture of what they anted their lives to look like. But in their 40s, the dreams were replaced with disappointment.
I told the sisters that releasing the dream doesn’t mean it won’t happen. It just means it may happen in a different way. If you continue to hold on to the original dream, you may make dating and relationships harder for yourself.
Once the sisters did this, they were open to love showing up in a new way. Karen’s meet a man from the south who was a little older than she was and who already had children from a previous marriage. However, he was excited about having another child and was willing and able to relocate to her state so she could continue building her career.
Krystal’s man was in his 50s but had never been married. Not only was he also dating while celibate, but he embraced her children as his own. Jackie’s boyfriend was completely different from what she’d imagined. Their relationship began as a friendship and evolved when she saw how kind and consistent he was. Whereas her last boyfriend couldn’t even call her consistently, this man plans grand adventures for them to explore the city together.
When you’re dating in your 40s, your path to marriage and family may not look like everyone else’s, but that’s ok. You may have arrived here because of choices you made, like pursuing the right job instead of focusing on finding Mr. Right, or by staying in a broken relationship too long.
Or, you may have gotten to this place in your life because of things that were done to you, such as a breakup or divorce. Maybe you’ve had unexpected health challenges that put your fertility in jeopardy. It doesn’t really matter how you got here. The important thing is that you have the power to decide what are you going to do now that you ARE here. You may or may not be able to have kids, but you can still have love and marriage. Embrace the hope of your new dreams!
So here are your takeaways:
There are the guys who are actively looking for you, but you can’t see them because they don’t look like the kinds of men you imagined:
What should you do?
Well you could do 1 of 2 things:
1) Get frustrated, angry and give up on relationships because your blueprint of how things are supposed to work out didn’t happen.
2) Change your blueprint.
What does #2 look like in real life?
- If you want children, you can either look for a man in your peer group who wants to adopt kids or who doesn’t have any kids at all. That may take quite a bit of work and effort, but it’s possible.
- You could open yourself up to meeting men who are divorced and/or who have kids.
- Or you can adjust who you’re looking for. Make little tweaks in the categories of age, location, income, and/or educational level so that you have more men in your dating pool. For example, an older man, maybe in his 50s, may not be so focused on having kids and won’t mind that you don’t want any or can’t have kids. He may even be looking for someone exactly like you!
Ultimately, you should look for the people who are looking for you, focus more on the core values you’ll share with your Mr. Right and stress less over how old he is. You’ll increase your options and your odds of finding love now!
P.S. Please join me for a one-day Virtual Retreat, You Can Love Again, where I’m going to show you the exact step-by-step system I used with my successful coaching clients. Click here to learn more
Are you dating over 40? What’s your greatest challenge?
Tell me below!