Although, the challenges of dating and relationships are not new, many of our challenges will increase as we age and mature. While many of us would like to think with age and experience come wisdom, many mature daters find themselves grappling to understand and adapt to the new way of meeting and dating. Unfortunately, many mature daters find themselves akin to a fish out of water when it comes to dating and relationships, unable to understand as well as negotiate the new rules. We can all agree dating has changed tremendously over the last ten to twenty years with people meeting and socializing online rather than in person.
Those of us that have not been a part of the dating scene for an extended period of time find ourselves trying to socialize and engage with others in a manner that is no longer socially acceptable and antiquated. Both mature women and men find themselves expecting their dating experiences to be the same or similar to their dating experience in the past, however, that is rarely the case. Daters find themselves reliving their teen or early twenty’s years when it comes to the dating world. A lot of mature daters re-enter the dating field after having been in a long-term relationship or marriage, many struggling with adjusting their perception of themselves now and who they were as teenagers or young adults. Daters often report feeling overwhelmed by the new process of dating, becoming paralyzed by the old vision of themselves and the old vision of the people they dated.
Previous studies conducted on mature daters suggest women are more selective during the dating process than men. The primary concerns and desires also seem to differ between the sexes with men being more likely than women to select and date and a younger partner, while women are more likely to seek a partner they perceive to be more stable than their previous partner. Women more so than men are more likely to have experienced caregiving of their sick and deceased partner, maintained childrearing responsibilities, cared for ailing parents, etc., so they typically seek partners that are more independent, mobile, and healthier. In comparison, men are more likely to seek partners who are more carefree and less sexually uninhibited. As we grow and mature it is important to recognize and accept we have been significantly changed by our life experiences, therefore, our needs and wants will not be the same as they were when we were teens or young adults. For mature adults, it is much more important to meet someone that fits our needs than our desires. As we age we begin to value our time more than we ever have in our youth. Dysfunctional and demanding relationships can create emotional, physical, and psychological stressors that can be too difficult and time consuming to manage. Demanding relationships can lead to feelings of resentment and animosity causing us to simply live life without enjoying life.
Reasons we Become Selective with Age Include:
- Desire for stability
- Change in priorities
- Value placed on attractiveness has changed/diminished
- Changes in health
- End of a long-term relationship or marriage
- Personal needs have changed
- Family structure has changed/kids have grown up and left the home
- Sexual needs and interests have changed
- You know yourself better now
- You have clarified your dreams and goals.
- Your expectations are realistic
- You are better equipped to assess potential partners
One benefit of dating as a mature adult includes having a variety of experiences in dating or having had at least one serious relationship. By having experience in the dating field we can begin the process of identifying pattern in our dating style, the type of person we typically select, and the issues that often become prevalent in our past relationships. Self-reflection gives us the opportunity to reflect on our patterns, our roles, and responsibilities with regards to the end of a past relationship. Not surprisingly, we often end up with the same kind of partner in the same kind of relationship — without even realizing how we got there. An important concept to keep in mind when dating is that we aren’t always attracted for the right reasons. Relationships tend to fail when we seek out and pair up with people whose defenses and negative characteristics perfectly complement our own.
When it comes to pursuing a romantic relationship, we do not have to act impulsively, choosing to get into a long-term relationship with the first person we meet. As we get to know ourselves, we are certain to find out things we do not necessarily like that hurt us in past relationships. Identifying patterns can help us break the ongoing cycle of dating people that are not right for us and those that do not bring value to our lives.