Swiping in your 40s: A Guide to Online Dating

Christine Morrow

To lots of women, online dating can seem like a bridge too far, myself included. I was and still am, horrendous at dating. A friend once said my longest relationship was with my first hairdresser. Although in defence he did cut my hair from the age of 13 until my mid thirties.

Venturing online to find a partner was always going to be a challenge, a nervous and petrifying challenge. Although one particularly brave day in May this year, I wrote the profile, did a bit of swiping, typed a message I can’t remember and got asked out for coffee. Easy, right?

Well, not so much. For many women, me included, putting yourself out there online is a nerve wracking move. Especially if you’ve been through a relationship breakup, marriage breakdown or divorce. Trusting in real life after that is beyond difficult, never mind trying to learn about someone new by messaging a stranger. According to research from the University of Bath, the chances of finding love naturally on any given day are 1 in 562 so it's time we take our love lives into our own hands and make sure we get out there.

How do we make it slightly easier to forge onward in the pursuit of a perfect match online? Here are some tips to help you get back out there and dive into online dating.

Age is Just a Number

It’s often said but it's definitely true. Age is just a number. As online dating allows you to be specific about the age of any potential date, many men use the late thirties as a cut-off. Being over 40 doesn’t mean it’s all over, with the right man it is just the start. Don’t be immediately discouraged by any age bracket listed. There's a person out there for you.

The Ticking Clock

Anyone over 40 (or even 30 for that matter) will have heard all about the ticking of the biological clock. It can be disheartening if you are of a certain age, with no children (unless that is your choice. More power to you!) and trying to find a partner to maybe start a family with online. You’ll hear people say that time isn’t on your side. Don't listen to them. Now is the time to heed the above advice about age not being the be-all and end-all. Now is the time to really think about the type of person you want to spend the rest of your life with, and who you don't.

Baggage (air quotes)

Reaching 40 and beyond means life experience. Lots of it too, which is amazing. There will have been good times, bad times and everything in between. You might have kids, a cat, a dog or designer suitcases to bring to the party. Anything you have is part of you and any prospective partner who stands a chance will accept you with these things included. You don’t have to tell them everything about yourself to the point of exhaustion though, this is a new start for you. Remember to breathe and focus on the present. A present which could be the perfect relationship for you and one you deserve.

Be Yourself

Writing about yourself online isn’t easy, making yourself sound attractive is even harder. Don’t try to be something you’re not. If you like watching box sets in your pyjamas while sitting in a blanket fort, write that. There’ll be someone who likes making blanket forts (who doesn't like blanket forts?).

Arrange a Date in a Public Place

If you’re nervous, knowing other people are around will be a comfort. Tell someone you trust where you’ll be and if it makes you feel better text them when you’re home. Relax and have fun but always trust your instincts when it comes to meeting someone new.

Trust your Gut

Don’t feel pressure to do anything. If you need to make the emergency get-me-out-of-here call, do it! Stay in control of the situation. Online dating is about meeting lots of new people, all of them strangers so keep yourself safe.

Take Breaks

Don’t feel bad if you need to take a break. You’re not answerable to anyone about how you spend your time or who you reply to so don't feel guilty about having a rest. Talking and texting can be exhausting and it’s important to be able to enjoy the whole process. Next time the phone buzzes, don't beat yourself up if you can't be bothered.

Be Honest about What you Want

You’ll get asked what you’re looking for. It's inevitable. You might not have thought about it too much before logging on to your dating app of choice but it's good to know what you want to achieve. If you're after a long term match, a few casual dates or someone to get out and about and explore the outdoors with, make sure that's what they're interested in too.