Age has a way of bringing clarity and understanding to many things. Predicaments that seemed insurmountable in your 20s are laughably easy to maneuver in your 40s.
But these differences may not seem obvious in the beginning. If you’re coming out of a divorce and haven’t even thought about dating since a male Clinton was running for the White House, there will naturally be a significant amount of fear and trembling accompanying the dating process.
But once you move past your terror, you should be comforted by the fact that you will know yourself infinitely better than you did when you were younger. By itself, that makes the process of relating to another grown-up much easier, smoother, simpler.
A recent study conducted by Match.com concluded that older singles report feeling the greatest level of happiness combined with the least amount of stress over their relationship status.
“They are less likely to play games. They want to make a decision quickly and cut their losses, because they have learned life is too short for dating games,” Bowling Green State University gerontologist Charlie Stelle said on match.com.
Sheila Blagg, a divorce mediator with over 10 years experience dealing with separation, divorce and dating after divorce, came up with a list of five ways dating changes when you get older, according to the Huffington Post.
These are the highlights of Blagg’s list:
Your Priorities Are Different
You Know the Red Flags
You Have More Responsibilities
You’re More Straightforward
You’re OK With Nights In
If you look at each one more closely, the thread that runs through them is maturity. Dating and maturity often seem mutually exclusive—the guessing games and mind reading that are usually an unavoidable part of dating’s early stages don’t tend to leave much room for maturity.
But when you’re already a grownup, already a person with responsibilities and important tasks that take up your days, you don’t have nearly as much time for game playing.
“Chances are, you have your life together more when you re-enter the dating scene,” writes Blagg, creator of Divorce2dating.com. “You might have a demanding career, one or more children or other significant responsibilities in your life. The point is, you’re less flexible and dating is never your first priority.”
Speaking of priorities, if you have a grownup job and maybe even some kids in the house, you don’t even have time to obsess about whether your potential new partner has called or texted or emailed or direct messaged. There’s a great deal of relief for both parties in this fledgling relationship if you know you’re dealing with a mirrored reflection in terms of maturity.
A lack of time also translates into a willingness to be more straightforward. This is how Blagg describes it:
Finally, in many ways you’re an easier date when you’re older. That means you’re less likely to be impressed by a pricey restaurant that’s been written up in the New York Times. Been there, done that. Many times. You’re looking for creativity, something interesting, some signal that effort went into the thought. Or, you might not even need to go out.
“When you’re young, you want to go out — and even if you don’t, you know everybody else is going out, so you feel pressured to go out,” Blagg writes. “When you’re a little older, you (and your potential partners) are all a little more comfortable with spending the night in or turning in before midnight.”
In other words, you could care less what everybody else is doing. That’s the beauty of aging.