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There is none of the messing around that inevitably accompanies dating when we're young. We go through a lot of trial and testing as young daters, because we're still searching for the right type of person to suit our personality, a personality with which we ourselves are vaguely familiar.
At 40 a few of us may have been married once, maybe we're already parents as well. We've finally now grown into the person we have always been aiming to be, having blossomed out of the personality development stages of our life.
While we had been going through this kind of natural change, it was difficult for us to really settle down into a routine of life, owing to the headstrongness of innocent youth (with someone else along for the ride). As we advanced both in age and experience, the calibre of our relationships needed to change. Some people are blessed to have swum against the tides of these very difficult changing times together, to have reached the shore as a solid team. This unfortunately is not true for everyone.
For most, having finally grown into themselves, they are therefore ready to find the person they know would complement them, their life, the people in their life, and the general style of living with which they are accustomed.
In our twenties we were stubborn, naïve and somewhat carefree. Life was out there for the taking, a career was being developed, in many cases we had no kids, and life was a bowl of fresh plastic fruit – incapable of rotting.
Our thirties flew by, marriage, kids career, family, friends, all sailed by our very eyes like a mist, instantly evaporating. The bite we had taken out of the fruit of life was far too big, which often made chewing difficult, and swallowing had a way of inducing indigestion.
But wait! The forties came and suddenly there is all this life, still out there. We've eaten our share of real fruit and now know that while the plastic ones look good, it's the real ones that count. Of course they'll rot sometimes, but that is the price of living, consuming, giving and learning! Now relationships aren't a mad, desperate dash to find someone to complete us, for we have learned how to do that ourselves. Relationships are now an extension of the contentment we already feel with our established lifestyle and who we are. Therefore, we can afford to take a more steady, relaxed approach to finding the right person.
Experience in life, with other relationships (and with people in general), have taught us a lot about human nature including the way men behave. In less experienced times in our lives, we dove headless into relationships our mothers and older friends could see were heading for destruction.
The men we chose, we did so only on the assumption that the person they allowed us to see when we were out on a date, was the person with whom we would walk up the aisle, and have babies. The man sitting opposite us at the fancy restaurant didn't have to be the man we'd dreamed of inside our heads as little girls, in fact it didn't matter that he was the total opposite, our young imaginations could convert his obvious shortcomings into whatever our love-blind heart wished he could be. We could see ourselves cuddled up in front of the TV in the beautiful home surrounded by pale blue picket fences and perpetual lime green ferns, with men who were obvious commitment-phobic. Whatever was wrong, it didn't matter, our dreams would take care of it later on.
In our forties we've learned to look harder. Look beyond the muscled chest into the heart beating beyond it, and through the deep brown eyes into the mind which gives them light. We can now see the dangers and warning signs for ourselves, thus are able to save ourselves the pain of getting into, only to have to get out of such a relationship. We don't believe in wasting time with flings that are doomed to fail. We've already done that and prefer to now save ourselves the bother.
Of course, a vital part of any long lasting relationship is the presence of romance. But at 40 we know that this solely cannot sustain one. A man who provides all the romance we need, yet does not know how to get along with our family and friends, cannot hold down a job, or treat us badly in between spates of romantic gestures, is not worth the bother.
When we were inexperienced, this did not register. A man who brought us flowers, and spontaneously took us on a fabulous date, won our hearts without question. But we have learned the hard way that romance, though splendid, is not sustainable and is not a cure-all for a failing relationship.
After 40, there is always the mortgage, standing bills, and maybe even children at school. Romance can satisfy the heart but not the belly or the tax-man. While I am certainly not advocating that we shouldn't date poorer men (I've found some of the less wealthy men to be the most attentive and supportive), I'm pointing out that a woman in her forties goes into a relationship with expectations of more than an occasional date and a bunch of flowers.
This aspect of dating is made easier for us, because a man in his forties (well, this doesn't apply if you're dating a much younger man) most likely has an established career, a place to call home, and some savings. Dating at 40 means that money troubles shouldn't be an issue in a budding relationship as it can be among people with less established lifestyles.
Knowing who we truly are tends to release the boundaries we place on ourselves,our advancement, and our creativity because it breeds confidence. We understand completely that mistakes aren't a reflexion of inadaquacies, but a seal of our humanity. Confidence means that we wouldn't be afraid to make new friends, take plunges and explore untreaded avenues.
In the same way, knowing who we are makes it possible to give more of that person, to be a better partner, to offer solutions, to say sorry, to call first, to be our true self. All of these characteristics, make for an almost perfect partner (no one is perfect), and to be the one that he has been looking for all his life. We cannot make anyone happy if we first cannot be happy with who we are.
Being 40 is the time when we're happy and fun and outgoing, this is why it's the perfect time to date. It's a pity that many more of us don't.
Anne Lyken-Garner is a contributing writer for Fabulously40 Youth Project Worker, Writer, Television Support Actress & Occasional model.
To find more of Anne's work visit her blogspot
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