“Without good communication, a relationship is merely a hollow vessel carrying you along on a frustrating journey fraught with the perils of confusion, projection, and misunderstanding.”
~ Cherie Carter Scott
If you are approaching “middle age,” you may feel that you chances of dating successfully are zero to none.
The pressures of society does not help reduce this anxiety. With expectations to get rid of wrinkles, reduce fat and eliminate gray hair, we exist with an undertone that middle age is not something to look forward to; and that our youth is far gone and the expectations of our 30’s has quickly faded.
If you have been single most of this time and looking for the perfect mate, married and divorced or unsuccessful being in and out of relationships, feeling discouraged about dating is a normal reaction.
You might even feel like you have failed. But, you have not failed at all. It’s actually quite the opposite.
I invite you to view middle age dating as more of an opportunity.
An opportunity to embrace everything that you have experienced, mistakes that you have made and lessons that you have learned.
It first begins with simply changing your mindset about dating.
View dating at this age as positive, that growth is happening all the time, and unexpected joys happen when you least expect it. If you can begin by adopting these simple “truths” you will be amazed at what happens next.
I just turned 50 today. In this article, I will share strategies I’ve learned and practiced over the past decade. These specific tools have helped me ground myself, grow and open myself to healthy love.
Here they are:
1. Consider your Choices:
Women spend a lot of time before they buy a pair of shoes. There is the “feel”, “the look” and the “right fit.” If you’ve ever bought shoes on impulse you feel the consequences almost immediately. This is also true in relationships.
The wrong match can lead to consequences that are emotional, physical or even spiritual. One characteristic alone does not guarantee the “right fit.”
Take your time, reflect and consider your choices. See who will be the best fit. Just like the wrong dance, the wrong fit will not have the right feel.
2. Trust your Intuition:
When you are in a relationship that isn’t the “right” match, there are early signs that point to just that. When they are glaring, they’re called “red flags.” But signs don’t have to be that obvious, they can be more subtle. Pay attention to them.
A sensation that shows up in your body is called a “gut” feeling. It’s a knowing. Listen to it. Trust it. Respect it.
Ask yourself: What made you ignore those signs before? Was it for the sake of love and acceptance, or fear of being alone? What made you attach too quickly?
3. Your Wish List:
Make a list of what qualities you are looking for in a partner. Keep it in a place that you can reflect on it from time to time. When we set intentions on how we want our life to be (relationships, career, life purpose, etcetera), we allow space for these things to blossom.
Don’t just take what you can get. Be selective.
Write a second list of your previous partners and their attributes. What attributes did you like and what attributes did you dislike? Getting clear on your needs will help you not settle.
4. Your Identity:
Never forget who you are. It is normal to question your identity especially during life transitions (marriage, divorce, job change, empty nest), and during mental and physical health challenges. But, remember you can always find yourself again.
Getting in touch with yourself requires time and effort.
Don’t expect a relationship to fill that void. Never apologize for “who” you are or change for someone just to be loved. Be yourself and attract the right person.
5. Embrace Discomfort:
Being alone is not always easy, but being with the wrong partner can be far worse. Ask yourself why you are attracted to someone. Is it because you don’t want to be alone? Do you want someone to rescue you?
You must first acknowledge if fear is keeping you in the same relationship patterns and then deal with your baggage.
Relationships are not a substitute for being there for yourself. When you like being with yourself, the fear dissipates and amazing things happen.
6. Be Present:
If you are obsessing about previous relationships or about relationship that haven’t happened yet, you are not living in the moment. You are also losing precious time.
Balance is key.
Don’t expect to give too much in a relationship and expect something in return. It doesn’t work that way. Balance you with your relationship.
It is important to ground yourself daily. It’s up to you to be present for yourself. This can be done by how you care for yourself physically, emotionally spiritually and intellectually. It’s up to you to do it. And only you.
Relationships are never easy at any age but the truth is at middle age your knowledge, experience and trust in yourself can help you navigate a place that you once tackled blindly.
Kavita A. Hatten, MS, LPC, NCC – www.phoenixcounseling.net
It is not uncommon to feel that you are running out of time.
Perhaps the years have passed in the blink of an eye while you were busy at your career, travel or a variety of things.
Maybe a string of bad relationships has stolen your time, or you just haven’t met “the one”. There are a few things that you must consider to use your time efficiently in the dating arena.
You must maintain a life while you are looking for love
Do not get consumed with dating to the point where you make it a job. Adapt an attitude of moderation with your dating activity. You must live your life naturally.
Have time and enjoy friends, family and other activities. You will quickly experience dating burn-out if you don’t and this will impact your ultimate result.
Be moderate with your dating activity but be selective. Remember, you are selecting someone who has the potential to be your child’s father. Whether you stay together or not, he will always be a part of your life. Select carefully and don’t rush!
Desperation will get you no where
Maintain a positive attitude. Engage in life giving activities that bring you joy and satisfaction. Visualize the relationship that you want and believe with all your heart it can happen, even if the present is showing you something different. Desperate energy attracts the wrong kind of guy.
Leave the fear behind
If you find yourself saying, “what if it doesn’t happen” or “it will never happen”, take a step back. Center yourself with self-care, meditation and support from friends. Believe that you can have what you want. What you seek is also seeking you.
Get clear on what you want
Finding the one can be like looking for a needle in a haystack unless you are clear about what you want.
Identify the characteristics that you would like in a partner and relationship.
If who you meet does not fit the bill because there are some deal breakers that you become aware of, it is time to move on. Do not waste your precious time with those who don’t fit the bill just because you are attracted to them.
Above all else, remember that you are the prize!
Lisa Angelini, MAPC, LPC – www.lisaangelini.com
When your biological clock starts ticking, one of the most important things you can do when seeking a mate to settle down with is to be picky.
Be VERY selective with who you date, swipe, get set up with, etc, because it could happen that you meet an incredible person who takes your breath away, falls madly in love with you, and enjoys all the things you do, but doesn’t want children, and then — bam!
Five or ten years have gone by, and sure they’ve been fun, but you’re no closer to having children and your ovaries keep getting older.
It’s scary and stressful to worry about your biological clock.
Our bodies are wired to start reproducing in our early twenties, but as society changes, women are settling down and having babies later and later in life. That’s ok.
Our bodies know what to do!
It may take a little more time and TLC, but it is still possible to get pregnant and have healthy babies later in life. And please note that the pressure shouldn’t just be on us!
Older men may have a decline in their libido, sperm count, motility, etc, which can cause difficulty getting a woman pregnant. So the burden is not just for women as we age.
But you don’t want to wait forever, and you don’t want to waste your time dating people who are not on the same page as you are.
So what do you do?
How do you know if the person you are dating wants the same things as you? Wants to settle down and start a family (in a reasonable amount of time)?
If online dating is your schtick, put in your profile that you are looking for a mate to settle down with and start a family. If your friends and family act as Cupid for you, ask them to pass along to any potential set-ups that you are looking for a LTR rather than a fling.
And if you are already in a long term relationship, talk to your partner about your vision for the future. See if his vision is aligned with yours.
Let’s talk more about dating, and sifting through all of the eligible partners to find the one for you to settle down with. How can you know, just by looking at someone’s profile, or by meeting them for the first time, if they’ll be baby daddy material?
Date lots of different people!
When I was going through a breakup, just before I turned thirty, my mom suggested I consider dating men who have been divorced.
Her reasoning was that these men have already settled down once, and for whatever reason it didn’t work out, so they could be looking for another serious and permanent relationship. Don’t rule someone out just because they’ve been divorced.
If appropriate, look outside your cultural, religious, racial, dating zones.
Look for dating partners who are professionals, or who at least have a full-time job, because generally speaking, employed men are more stable and more able to provide for a future family.
Go on dates to museums and supper clubs, rather than bars and night clubs.
Meet his friends and family—sooner rather than later. Do his friends have kids? That can be a good sign.
Most importantly, have fun and enjoy dating.
Putting so much pressure on finding the perfect mate to settle down with can be exhausting, and take the fun out of meeting new people and experiencing new things.
It’s always said, but it’s so true: you’ll find your forever partner when you’re not even looking.
Stephanie Weinblatt, MA, LCPC – www.healthylivingcounselingcenter.com
Dating to find a life partner while your biological clock is running out of time is one of the most stressful things a woman can go through.
If you want children, It is important to take your situation seriously and develop an effective dating strategy while remaining calm, focused and optimistic.
If you are certain you want a family, it is important to date men who also know they want children.
This means that if you are doing online dating and you see a man’s profile who says he is unsure about children, yet he looks like a good match otherwise, do not date him.
You may think you can change some things about a man who seems like a good match, but has some minor differences, however children are not something to bargain over.
He most likely either wants them or not. If you feel time is of the essence, do not waste your time getting to know men who do not want a family.
You may feel this limits your options considerably, but this may be a good thing. Limiting your options means you are more likely to get what you are looking for.
Once you start dating someone, it will be important for you to discuss the issue of children fairly early on.
Don’t wait until you find you like this person and are getting attached to find out he does not want kids. A man who definitely wants a family will be happy to discuss this and tell you his feelings.
He is most likely a bit anxious about finding someone, as well, who wants the same thing he does.
He may not have the pressure of a ticking biological clock, but if he is a mature, responsible guy, (which is what you are looking for), he will understand that you have time considerations that cannot be ignored.
It is important to not panic while in this process of finding the right partner.
Decisions made with fear and anxiety often turn out to be the wrong choices that we later come to regret. Stay level-headed and don’t buy into statistics that say you lose your fertility by some ridiculously young age.
I have had so many clients tell me fearful things their doctors told them about age and fertility. You are not a statistic and women get pregnant at all ages when the time is right for them.
Get clear about what you really want and claim it.
When you follow your own heart, find the right partner and do what is right for you, life has a way of working out.
Nancy Harris, LCSW, LICSW – www.nancyharriscoaching.com
Women are whole and lead fulfilling lives on their own two feet. As a proud feminist, I am a firm believer that we as women generate our own happiness and sense of worth.
If we are at a place in our lives that we are desiring a partner to share our lives with, and we feel as though time is running out, and we begin to panic. Don’t.
A choice to share our lives with someone is arguably one of the most important decisions one can make in their lifetime. A trajectory of positive or negative experiences can come from making one decision about one person.
Stop. Breathe. Be.
Please disregard the old paradigm that women are something if only they have someone.
One essential question to ask ourselves when it comes to big decisions in our lives is if we are making a choice based out of Love or Fear.
A fear based choice is coming from a primal and triggered part of our brain. Fear produces a freeze, fight, and flight response.
When we are fearful, we are not in a balanced and grounded state. Our worth and identify could seem to be wrapped up in being married.
Please identify if your desire to settle down and get married is coming from a place of fear.
- Are you being influenced by outside people?
- Are you feeling shame?
- How is your self-worth?
When we make decisions from a love based place, we activate our prefrontal cortex.
This part of our brain is responsible for problem-solving and executive decision making.
When we are in a state of relaxation, we feel safe and happy in our own skin on a cellular level. This is when we attract positive people and opportunities into our lives. Actively build and shape your life.
When we make decisions from a love based place in our lives, we attract more joy and more love.
If you love a certain hobby, choose to pursue it. If you love to travel, go on an adventure. If you love nature, go for that walk. Go towards your big loves. Make it known what you love and what you value.
Make big, bold choices when it comes to what you love and stand for.
The ”who”will come and appear in the places you organically are. Choose to live from a place of love.
Brooke Campbell, M.A., RDT-BCT, LCAT – www.creativekinections.com
Stop reading right now. Take a deep breath and tell yourself, “This is not a time to panic.”
Meeting a marriage-minded man, or any man actually, under duress will cause him to head for the hills before you’ve even had time for a second date.
Instead of stressing, consider these practical steps:
1. Know Whom You’re Seeking: Take time to make a list of desirable traits in a mate, considering physical characteristics, personality traits (including the desire to get married and have children!), and spirituality.
While appearance often becomes more attractive as you get to know someone, having different spiritual beliefs or clashing personalities can be a real turn off and lead to future problems.
Once you have a short list of non-negotiables, take a radical approach to dating and end a relationship if you find that your new potential mate is not meeting these standards.
2. Be Clear About Your Expectations:
While starting a first date off with, “Hi. My name is ___________. Would you like to get married and have a baby?” may not be the best approach, don’t waste your time dating a new guy for six months before you ask about his future plans.
Questions like “What does your ideal life look like 5 years from now?” will give you a glimpse into the dreams of the person who’s sitting across from you.
If you don’t hear key words like “marriage” or “family,” you can dig a little deeper and ask if he ever sees himself having a family.
Many relationships, including marriages, have ended over this difference of future goals, so be prepared that you may need to walk away if your man’s future looks different than how you imagine yours.
3. Relax and Remember Your Options:
The more pressure we put on ourselves, the less likely we are to let our true personalities shine through to a new man! Keep breathing and remember to take time for yourself! Even if marriage and children doesn’t arrive on your desired timeline, that doesn’t mean that your dream is dead.
Women are having babies later and later in life, as science has afforded many options for women whose biological clocks aren’t ticking quite as steadily anymore. Some single men and women also consider foster care and adoption as other options to becoming a parent.
So, while the journey may look different than you originally imagined it, keep in mind that you really do have more time that you think to meet this future goal!
Laura Miller, LCSW – www.millerfamilytherapyinc.com
As a Professional Counselor and Holistic (Inner) Life Coach as well as a woman who very much felt her biological clock ticking and made some interesting choices (and learned from them!), I want to offer guidance on how to maneuver through this time. Guidance I wish I was offered or at least that I had chosen to listen to.
First, practice self-compassion DAILY.
Being single and wanting to become a mother can be a lonely, depressed place to be. Friends are coupled up and moving into starting families. The mental math you are doing to stay “on-track” with your life has you needing to meet your person today. It can be really hard to not get sucked into anxiety and panic and bad relationship choices.
Make a commitment to care lovingly for yourself.
I highly encourage you to visit and get very familiar with Kristin Neff’s work. Self-compassion will help move you forward wholeheartedly on your journey to becoming a parent.
Next, work on your resilience to rejection.
You want to meet someone wonderful and the path to this person might have a number of false starts. Know this: research has shown that even the slightest rejection is felt in the body similarly to the pain experienced from being punched.
Often we respond with negative self-talk, depression, rebound relationships, and even self-harm. Have a game plan for lovingly countering rejection to keep you from losing sight of your authentic self out there in the dating world. I highly recommend this book by Dr. Guy Winch.
Self-compassion and resilience to rejection are wildly important tools.
Add in a mindset shift, though, and you will dramatically improve your experience with your ticking biological clock and finding your person.
- How do you react internally when you see a happy couple?
- When you walk by a pregnant Mama?
- When your friend announces she is getting married?
- Do you experience jealousy? Anger? Comparison? Rejected by life?
These, while super normal, are all low vibration feelings (i.e. they make you feel bad).
A mindset shift into joy and trust would shift your energy toward yourself and the happy couple (I love that they are happy! This is coming for me, too!), the pregnant Mama (I’m so happy she is pregnant! I wish for her a healthy baby.
This is coming for me, too!), your friend (It is awesome to see couples so deeply in love! This is coming for me, too!).
Joy and trust connect you with your authentic self and raise your energy vibration.
From here you can move into manifesting the man of your dreams! Check out Super Attractor by Gabby Berstein.
Do this work so you can stay connected to your Authentic Self during this journey! Your future thanks you!
Sue Bruckner Engstrom, MA, LPC-IT – www.suebecounseling.com
If you are feeling pressure to find a partner because your biological clock is ticking, you need to be gently aggressive in your approach to dating, and make sure you don’t waste too much time with people who don’t share your values.
While you don’t want to appear desperate or needy, you do also want to be honest and clear about who you are, where you are in life, and what you ultimately want.
This does not necessarily mean that you put it out there on the first date.
It takes time to get to know someone and assess compatibility, but it doesn’t take forever.
Remember that you are not just looking for anyone who will have you, you are looking for someone that you want to share your precious life with.
The partner that you choose is probably the most important choice you will ever make in your life.
It can determine whether you have a fulfilling life, or a miserable one.
You don’t necessarily need to settle for the first opportunity you have to have someone who wants to have a baby with you.
Make sure that you are compatible in many ways – emotionally, psychologically, intellectually, spiritually, financially, and sexually.
Most of all, you need to have shared values in order to form a solid and long-lasting partnership.
Just as women feel a biological imperative to have children before it is too late for their bodies, many men also feel they need to have children while they still have the time and energy to do it. They also don’t want to be too old to parent well.
An intelligent and forward thinking man will plan his life, including when is the best time to have children. This can often depend on establishing his career first.
Many men are reluctant to start a family unless they are financially able to support one.
Thus, if a man has not figured out his career, you may want to keep on looking if you are feeling the pressure of your biological clock.
This is not always the case, as some women are the breadwinners of the family, and their partners have made a decision to be a stay at home dad. In today’s world, this happens much more often than in previous generations.
If you’re supposed to have a child and find someone, it will happen.
If it doesn’t happen, remember that it is not the end of the world. There are many childfree people and couples who enjoy life abundantly with more freedom in many other ways.
Do your best to create the life that you want, but if it doesn’t happen, it may be something you can learn to accept.
Hinging your happiness on one thing or one person can be a setup for unhappiness.
Change the things you can, but accept the things you cannot change. And always remember to have the wisdom to know the difference.
Anita Gadhia-Smith, PsyD, LCSW-C, LICSW – www.drgadhiasmith.com
This is particularly true when you feel you are short on time or don’t necessarily have the same goals.
I think a lot of people fear the loss of a relationship if they are too honest. I don’t think there is any such thing as “too honest”.
I think that someone who is serious about you and your relationship with them will listen to you and see if you can’t find a compromise, even if they don’t agree or don’t understand what you need.
Telling someone you’re just beginning to date what your ultimate intentions are may scare them off, but they’re in the relationship for different reasons than you are, and it’s doubtful it will work out in the end.
There may be a better moment to breach the subject, but how many dates do you want to go on, and how many months do you want to be putting energy into a relationship that isn’t what you want or isn’t going to be what you want in the future? (Isn’t that the point of relationships?!)
If you love yourself and trust yourself, you know you need to talk about this, and there are any number of ways this conversation can go!
You might find that your partner is on exactly the same page as you are, or you might find out that they are close to you, but need a little more time to catch up. You might also find that their timeline is really far from yours and you have less in common than you thought.
But before you have this conversation, know a few things for yourself:
- What do you want from a relationship?
- When, exactly, do you want that?
- Is this the relationship you want that from?
- And what are you willing to compromise?
Knowing your own expectations allows you to communicate them clearly and allows the other person to fully agree or disagree.
And knowing exactly what you want will allow you to make better choices about what is acceptable or unacceptable. Good luck!
Becky Bringewatt, MA, LPC, NCC – www.mantiscounselingandcoaching.com
What do you do when you are seeing someone for a while and the relationship seems to be stagnating.
Yet you’re getting older and are concerned that if you wait any longer, time may run out for you to start a family.
Your biological clock may cause you to make some unwise decisions, so be careful.
Here are some things to consider:
1. You do not want to view your partner with rose-colored glasses if the relationship isn’t already solid and secure.
Your need to have children should not override your need to be in a healthy, respectful relationship.
2. Stay true to yourself and ask yourself if “this is someone you can see spending the rest of your life with?”
“Is he the type of man who is good with kids and shares your ideas on how to raise a family?” Be honest in answering those questions.
3. Don’t be afraid to talk with your partner, because even though starting over is scary and time consuming, it is better to know now where you stand, rather than later.
If the conversation doesn’t happen, then consider whether you want to stay or move on.
4. Try not to panic since that will cause you undo pressure.
That means pressure to meet someone so you can have a baby, pressure to move your current relationship ahead sooner than it should be and pressure to force what should come naturally. Be patient and enjoy where you are right now!
5. Figure out what you need and listen to your body.
- Are you noticing any significant changes, like your cycle is starting to shift or become erratic?
- Are there new aches and pains you never noticed before?
Now is the time to pay attention to your body and make some changes, whether it’s adding new vitamins, exercising differently or eating better.
The most important thing to remember is to not judge yourself or compare yourself with others.
Everyone progresses through their lives at their own pace. Your biological clock is a part of you that lets you know the state of your physical body. Set realistic goals and when the time is right for you, you will know. Just be open to all possibilities.
Amy Sherman, M.A., LMHC – www.yourbabyboomersnetwork.com
Are having children important to you? Do you find your biological clock ticking?
There are two recommendations I have for assisting YOU in finding a partner who can meet this need.
My first request is I want you to let go of the societal message around fertility.
You know the one-“that the age of 35 is the cut off if you want to conceive a healthy child.” In reality that number should be closer to 40 and within that I even know women who are in their mid-40s who have had healthy children without any fertility treatment.
Stop allowing society to drive your stress and anxiety about having children!
I can personally relate to this because I am currently pregnant and will be having my first child at 36. I remember the pressure setting in when I hit the age of 30.
It wasn’t uncommon for me to hear, “Shouldn’t you have partner by now if you want to have children? That clock is ticking you know.” I met my husband at the age of 33 and we will be welcoming our first child this fall.
My second recommendation is that you do let potential partners know that you want to have children.
- Do you want to waste your time on dating someone who does not see children in his future?
- Does this mean that potential partners may not be interested in you?
- Of course it does but then is this partner that you want?
At least then you know up front and don’t waste time or energy in a relationship that ultimately will not be right for you.
When discussing children don’t interview your potential partner on the first date, which is just a plain turn off. But instead keep it conversational around desires and wants for the future.
Here is an example of what you could say,
“Where do you see yourself in five years”.
- Is your potential partner including children in this statement?
- If they are not perhaps you say, “I see myself in five years with a family is this something you want as well?”
It creates a less intimidating approach to the issue without putting your potential partner on the spot.
I hope that what I have stated above assists you in finding the right partner!
Lyndsey Fraser, MA, LMFT – www.relationalconnections.com
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