#FabulousAtForty: Dating and navigating relationships
First, set your baggage down.
I’ve always been a hopeless romantic. When I was younger, I read a lot of novels and I would wonder how my life will pan out. I wanted grand gestures and rom-com-like relationships. But when you’re younger, you don’t always see the bigger picture. But by the time you’re in your 40s, you may not know what you want but you definitely know what you don’t want. Everyone is so afraid of being at the mid-point of their life, and I was also one of them. But it is truly the best time of your life because you have more clarity, especially when it comes to dating or relationships. By this time, the rose-tinted glasses are off. You can see through the cheesy one-liners and are able to cut out all the unnecessary drama.
I always say that the 40s are the most liberating years in a woman’s life. You’re confident in your own skin, you know what you want and can handle your emotions more maturely. All this makes navigating relationships much easier. That being said, there are some sticky downsides and slippery slopes. Some men automatically assume that a woman in her 40s won’t be looking for a commitment, especially if she has children and has been married. Then there are those who can’t help but wonder why a woman is still single at this age and think about ‘what is wrong with her’.
Of course, there are some great men out there, but finding that person is like looking for a particular needle in a stack of needles. Also, the fact is that by 40, you start valuing your time—when you meet someone, you evaluate if the time you are investing into the person is worth it or not. Which doesn’t happen when you’re younger. At 40, you have your own inhibitions, because you’re either divorced or just haven’t found the ‘one’ yet. So, finding the person that accepts you for who you are is not an easy task.
Here are a few things I learned along the way.
Set your baggage down
I found that the only way to move forward and get over these inhibitions is to put your baggage down. It’s this load, this burden that you’re carrying around that makes it difficult to separate your inhibitions from the person standing in front of you. Rather than looking for red flags, try focusing on the green flags that you might be overlooking. One of the things I keep an eye out for is if he has children, how he treats them; how involved he is in their life and how patient he is with them. Navigating a relationship at a mid-point in life requires a lot of patience and perseverance.
Do your choices and priorities align with your potential partners?
It’s no longer about saying ‘I love you’ 20 times a day or the grand proposal that you’ve been dreaming about. It’s about looking at the choices he makes and whether those choices align with yours. For instance, if I meet a guy whose priority is to party and go out four times a week, I take a step back. On the flip side, if I enjoy my fair share of painting the town red, then will he be able to join me or is he a big homebody? Things like 'does he eat at a table with me' or 'is he an early riser' or 'can he make conversations with my friends' or 'can I share my bathroom with him', take precedence over any grand gesture that he makes. You have to assess whether your morals and values are the same. These may seem like small things but it tells me how much he can fit into my life and how much I can fit into his.
At 40, you can’t be impulsive. You have to take things slower and assess how much resilience this man has to actually stick around. I need someone who can accept me for my eccentricities and quirks. Someone who is empathetic, compassionate, and has the same view of life as I do. Good looks can only take you so far. These are things that are important.
Let your children form their own opinions
Telling your children about your new partner is a very delicate situation. Before you get to that point though, you have to make sure that your partner is a good person. Also, don’t just break it to your children. First, see at what point they are in their lives. Are they dealing with some emotional trauma? Or like in my case, if you’re divorced, are your kids still learning to adjust? You need to put them first and give them the space to form their own opinions about the person you’ve chosen. I ensure my children get to know the person I am with, and I tell them that it's okay if they don't like him. All I need is for them to give him a fair chance. My kids always know that they are my first and only priority.