In fact, according to relationships expert Pepper Schwartz, PhD, author of Finding Your Perfect Match, looking for another Mr. Right at this point offers advantages you didn’t have in your teens or 20s. You’re probably wiser now about how the world works and where you fit in it…you no longer measure yourself against impossible super-model standards of beauty…and you have developed higher self-esteem as you’ve grown older. Here is Dr. Schwartz’s advice on how to start your search…
Ask yourself what kind of relationship you’re looking for. For many women, a midlife relationship is about love, sex and companionship—not necessarily marriage. Of course, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer…but figuring out what you want—and what you don’t want—ups your chances of hitting the mark.
Make a must-have list—but remember, the more attributes a potential partner has to have, the less likely you are to find someone who meets all the criteria. Also, recognize that the qualities you looked for decades ago ("he’s ambitious, he wants kids") probably have changed. So make a dream list, then pick just three qualities that are nonnegotiable and let the rest go. Example: "He must be financially secure…have a sense of humor…and not have school-age children."
Do a personal assessment. Looking your best boosts your confidence. You won’t demand perfection of yourself, of course—but maybe you would feel good about updating your hairstyle and wardrobe. Check your attitude, too. Are you hanging onto hurts, resentments or negative behaviors (for instance, being too controlling or too passive) from past partnerships? Talk to friends and/or a therapist about how to move past these problems so they don’t sabotage future relationships.
Make a list of places where potential partners might gather. Art galleries, bridge clubs, dance classes, lecture series or tennis clubs? Research what’s available in your area that fits your interests and sign up. Consider online dating sites, too—many now cater to older adults.
Devise a safety plan. Do this before you start accepting dates—it’s best to be cautious. Plan to: Do a basic background check before any first date by talking to mutual friends or looking up the person on the Internet…give out your cell-phone number and/or e-mail address, not your home phone or address…meet in public places and manage your own transportation, so you won’t wind up in a car or a secluded area with someone you barely know.
Get feedback. Double-date with a friend and ask her afterward, "Did I talk too little? Was I trying too hard to be funny? Did I seem interested in what was going on?" If you’re on a date and the man’s demeanor suggests that he’s turned off, be straightforward in asking him if you did something to cause that. Use the feedback to improve your dating skills.
Be open-minded. You kill your chances if you say to yourself, "I can tell within 10 seconds whether or not he’s for me." Give every date at least 30 minutes (time enough for coffee), and vow to discover one interesting thing about the person. Even if he’s not partner material, you might make a new friend…and maybe he’ll be the one to eventually introduce you to the right guy for your future.