Forget Nicholas Sparks, The Notebook or any other unrealistic expectations you may have conjured up in your mind about love at this point in your life. It’s all useless crap.
As forty-something’s, we are all or should be wiser members of the new population of adult dating society and as much as we may like to think we have it all figured out, we quite often don’t. At this age, we are in a constant state of stationary state of hope/hopelessness, transformations as in being single again and growth on this new path with what you want and don’t want and despair as in “you are dating , again!”. Your love life is a depiction of those inner transitions, and that is entirely okay. In fact, that is the way it should be. So, with that said, here are some things you should realize about love in your forties…
First of all, let it be known that this is a time in your life to make decisions, right or wrong, which suit you—not everyone else. While you live, laugh, life and be the best you, you will realize that these will be some of the best years of your life. So do yourself a favor and don’t waste away your best stage of your life drowning your sorrows in a tub of Ben and Jerry’s, a bottle of vodka or a box of tissues. Put to rest the constant complaints surrounding your love life. If you spend all your time focusing on someone else, you will rob yourself of the opportunity to focus on yourself and do things that are entirely for you. Whether or not you’re in a relationship, dating or single; get out there, do everything you can, be a little selfish, and give yourself this chance to figure things out and establish who you are as an individual.
On that note, being single for a few months or for a few years does not mean you are destined to spend the rest of your life ‘forever alone’. I promise. Honestly, being single is awesome and until you get over the negative stigma associated with your single status and learn to love and embrace it, you probably aren’t ready for a relationship. Being single shouldn’t be about being lonely; it should be about doing anything and everything you want. Own your independence, take on every opportunity and do everything you could possibly want to do, without having to consider a significant other. This doesn’t mean you aren’t cut out for a relationship or are ‘un-datable’; it means you are capable of standing on your own two feet and loving yourself, without needing someone else to do that for you. And that, quite frankly, is one of the most attractive traits anyone can posses.
This is also a time in your life in which, instead of focusing solely on finding one other person, you should focus on the relationships you have with all the people around you. I consider myself to be in not one, but many committed relationships. With who? My friends and family; the wonderful people who have embedded themselves as a constant in my life, regardless of the comings and goings of any other fleeting relationships or troubles. These people are all my soul mates, in their own way. Take this time to enjoy and nurture the potential for so many incredible relationships with the people you meet, and you will open yourself up to the best kinds of people.
Now, as I’m sure you all know, not all of the relationships which cross your path in this life will not all be of the positive kind. Unless you are extremely lucky and equipped with unnaturally good judgment, you will probably fall in love with a complete jerk and get your heart broken once, twice, or maybe even multiple times. It happens.
I honestly think that everyone needs to date someone that is totally wrong for them at some point in their life. It may suck getting your ass kicked romantically, but it will serve as a valuable lesson to never settle for less than you deserve. Because after getting dragged around in the mud for awhile, most of us will come to our senses and realize that those kind of relationships are not worth the emotional hardship they cause. Then when the right one comes along, we will never look back.
With that said, there are times you will be on the providing end of the jerk spectrum. We are all hypocrites and assholes at one time or another when it comes to love and relationships. We will preach our hearts out to everyone within earshot and then turn around and do exactly what we warned someone else not to do. Why? Because most of us have to learn the hard way to learn at all. And that’s okay. Most of the time, we haven’t even figured ourselves out enough to know what we want or need in someone else. So, embrace the uncertainty and embrace your mistakes. It is all an essential part of the process. Date every type of person, fall in and out of love, break-up, make-up, have a one night stand-all of it. Things won’t always work out, but that’s the point. Don’t beat yourself up about it; love in your forties will never be the end of the world and your mistakes will only help to steer you in the right direction in the long run.
Another point, which perhaps I’ve grown to understand more than ever this past year, is the importance of being brutally honest with both yourself and anyone you’re with, in terms of what you want and what you need. We spend so much time glamorizing the idea of love and relationships that sometimes we force ourselves into relationships or situations with people that might not be right for us, based on an idea of what we think we ’should’ want. But in reality, the ‘should’ does not matter. What matters is the character you and the other embody and the corresponding traits which align with you romantically, mentally and emotionally, in a way that will work both now and in the future.
Don’t waste your or their time in a relationship that is, ultimately, not right for either of you in the grand scheme of things.
Lastly- and perhaps the single most important point of all- do yourself a favor and let go of any specific romantic timelines you have set for yourself. This is not a facet of your life that you should not stress about with any unrealistic deadlines. If you’re single, in a long-term relationship, engaged or married or divorced, it doesn’t matter. Don’t panic about not being in the place you expected to be, romantically, or at any point in your forties. You are only human in your forties, in this stage of your life, so wherever you are at right now, embrace the hell out of it. You will end up in the right place in your life, at the right time, one way or another. Don’t force the process, just be happy, enjoy it and let it be.