After my first date in a year ended in disaster, I spoke to other fortysomething women — and a psychologist — to learn what they could teach me about running the gauntlet of romance. L ast week, I pushed myself to go on the first date I have had in a year.
In this case, it flung back a guy who lied on his dating profile about his age, used a photo that looked 15 years out of date and told me a bizarre story about how he had done time on a chicken farm because the prisons in his native country were too full — all, and this was the really confusing bit, for a crime he did not commit. But women in their 40s are likely to have run the gauntlet of hope, heart-sinks and uncertainty that are part of the dating trajectory, from traditional meet-ups to the rise of the planet of the apps.
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My process of natural deselection is trawling hundreds of profiles that pass in a blur of torso selfies, confusing group photos and grinning men in their 50s holding out large fish this choice of profile picture is one of the many mysteries of online dating. So, I speak to Dr Martin Graff, a senior lecturer in psychology at the University of South Wales, who confirms my fears that it is just a s game after all.
Dr Graff, whose research interests include the psychology of online dating, explains why the hours of swiping feel draining. For a start, fewer men in that bracket are looking for women of a similar age, compared with younger men.
Graff agrees that men in their 40s are more likely to want a partner in their 30s or 20s. But Graff has not quite razed my optimism to the ground.
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He thinks online dating is still the most effective way for women in their 40s to find a partner, because people in their 40s tend to be more confident, discerning and instinctive. That is true for year-old Helen James, an author and single mum from London who has been dating for almost a decade, starting when her son was four.
So, I turned to online dating. Helen has attracted men her own age, as well as men more than 10 years younger.
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She prefers meeting men similar in age, but over the past nine years her attitude has changed ificantly in other ways. But you find yourself where you find yourself. It sounds so liberating. I wonder if I, too, will experience less anxiety as I get further into my 40s — maybe become a Muslim version of Carrie Brhaw, a sort of No Sex and the City?
Dating can leave you feeling vulnerable, but Olivia, a year-old secondary school teacher from Sussex, is impressively stoic. Olivia often finds that men want casual hook-ups, but she is looking for a meaningful relationship. What about speed dating? For Helen, though, it offers the best answer to dating woes, since it combines s with the chance of chemistry.
Sarah Payne, the events manager for a site called SpeedDatersays she has seen an increase in women in their 40s attending their events. But there can be consolation where there is no click, Payne adds: she says speed dating has nurtured a culture of female bonding. This chimes with me: looking for a partner has resulted in me finding more friends — or at least opening different avenues in life, if not in love.
One guy became a genuine figure of support for my work. Another has tried to introduce me to potential matches, as I have for him.
Hope and heart-sinks: what it is really like to date online as a woman in your 40s
Also, the of married women who tell me that they envy my freedom, and that I should savour my best single life, has been eye-opening. At this stage in my life, as opposed to in my 20s or 30s, I know myself better, I have a broader notion of happiness and I approach dating with a far more open mind than I did ly. Dating — either online or in real life — requires courage, resilience and willpower.
Being yourself and opening yourself up to the universe, whatever it chooses to give back, is something I will continue to embrace. Hope and heart-sinks: what it is really like to date online as a woman in your 40s. Remona Aly.
Mon 9 Mar Topics Dating features.
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