Dating in Middle Age: Honoring Your Needs and Plucking the Weeds

Dating in middle age is rough. Your boobs and ass live in a different location and your wrinkles tell a tale of life joys and bad decisions. In my 20s and 30s, my body could handle late night excursions—maybe watching the sun rise after a sweaty night of dancing and Long-Island iced-teas. Now late-night adventures include my boxer, HBO and Frosted Mini Wheats. I can assure you I’m not crunching Cheerios, watching Homeland and cuddling Oscar De La Hoya.

While all my committed friends are living vicariously through me—I’m still hoping to find an option who has evolved beyond barfing at lake after too many Schlitz or even worse strapping me down to watch the latest episode of Ice Truckers or something worse. Dating just isn’t as glamorous as it seems. 

It doesn’t matter whether you are online dating or allowing a friend to “hook you up.” Both can be just as terrible or wonderful. The bottom line is you have to sift through a plethora of misspelled, shallow bios, outdated college pics and my personal favorite—the time suck of texting for two weeks only to discover they were a catfish or something worse.

No matter how discouraging dating can be—it’s also the best way to discover what you really want and what you won’t tolerate. Even though my dating has not proved to bring me Ms. or Mr. right—it has definitely help me understand that my time is limited, precious and valuable. I no longer give me time to others who don’t make me a reciprocal priority.

Even though “we’re just hanging out,” is a common expression—it is also expression of emotional unavailability and a huge red flag. If someone has just ended a relationship and hasn’t fully healed—you will only experience a part of them. More than likely—a broken part. Getting involved with someone who is still getting over someone else will only prove heartbreak in the end.  

The saying “The best way to get over someone is to get under someone” always made me giggle, and even though there is some truth to that statement—there is a more accurate way to describe this tactic. It should read, “The best way to get over someone is to sleep with another wrong person.” If choosing emotionally unavailable people is your go-to, maybe it’s time to explore why this pattern continues to occur and how you can avoid the heartache of giving too much and receiving too little. In the beginning of dating—everyone wears their ambassador hat. However, it’s important to stay present and remind yourself to not put anyone on a pedestal.

Everyone has faults. Everyone has baggage. Everyone has something to offer. It’s finding the person who can stay positive through the rough stuff, love you authentically and is willing to do the work (in relationships). Relationships are hard. People will do and say shitty things—even you. However, it’s these moments of disagreements and heartaches that mirror to us the things that we either don’t like in ourselves or aren’t giving ourselves.

Mirroring is one of the best ways to discover how you really feel about yourself. If you have a partner that is unavailable and you feel like you are constantly trying to win their approval—maybe it’s time for you to win your own approval. Many people who have an intense fear of abandonment often pick emotionally unavailable people and spend most of their time trying to find ways to please their partner so they won’t leave. 

After a rough split, you might find yourself acting in neurotic, impulsive ways trying to convince your partner to stay. You might panic and frantically text them in hopes that they will realize their mistake and stay. Whatever you do, don’t blame yourself for the entire split. This can be a difficult task, but there is always two roles that contribute to a separation. However, it’s so much easier to blame ourselves. After all, if we blame it on ourselves then maybe we can fix it ourselves.

There is a reason you are not together and as hard as it may be—you must work on letting the relationship go. Give yourself space to heal. Give yourself permission to grieve. Have patience with the process of healing. Let yourself cry for the relationship and future that didn’t work out. Unfortunately, it doesn’t happen overnight. You won’t wake up in the morning fully refreshed and feeling great after a breakup. If you are still healing from a breakup, this is not the time to start dating–unless you’re looking forward to picking another wrong person.

Researchers claim it takes ½ the time together to recover from a breakup. For instance, if you dated for 2 years—more than likely, it will take a year to process and heal. Until then, you will experience anxiety and restlessness. You will ruminate about the beginning of the relationship when things were good, exciting and the sex was amazing. However, you must realize those times have come to a close and have served their purpose on your journey. 

After you have fully healed, dating might be an option. However, if you’re not healed, you’ll just fall into an old pattern and choose another emotionally unavailable, or non-committal person. Many of us also pick partners that have different qualities that we wished we possessed. Most often, people try to find their joy at someone else’s party. 

Even though opposites attract—it’s also important to remember what similarities you have. Over time, certain differences and qualities that you might have found “cute” or “endearing” have now turned to into annoying habits and behaviors. This is when the honeymoon stage is over and you can finally see the entire peacocks plume. This is the time to pay attention. It was Maya Angelou’s words, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” People always show their true colors. In the end, it’s about whether or not their true colors are enrich your life’s canvas. Just remember– choose your palette wisely.

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