Three Dating Pitfalls

Dating seems like it should be simple and enjoyable—don’t you just go out with people, one by one, stay with them if you enjoy them, and move on if you don’t?  However, for many older women looking for their special person, dating is neither simple nor enjoyable – it is often fraught and discouraging.

No time for fun Bobby

Older women don’t have time to spend years going out on amusing dates, with the perfect partner on the distant horizon. Our distant horizon is now. If we are ready for a partner, then we want them while we can still share our active older years together. We don’t have time to linger with fun Bobby until Mr. Right** appears.

The three dating pitfalls

Because we are so ready to find Mr. Right, any particular date takes on more weight than when we were young. Will this man be the right one? And that makes us more susceptible to three dating pitfalls. These pitfalls that can trip up anyone, but are deeper traps for older women:

1) Settling for the first guy who comes along because we’re afraid there’s no one better out there

“Out there” becomes increasingly fraught for older women—we hear about the scarcity of ‘good men,’ and dating or being alone sounds worse than staying with a not-quite-right partner.  Whether or not these fears are true, they lead to staying with Mr. OK rather than looking for whom we really want. 

2) Pouring our hopes into one guy, and being so devastated when it ends that we stop dating.

We are so eager to find that partner that when we find someone, we rejoice and pour our hopes and dreams into them. But if it doesn’t work out, it’s like a fall from a high cliff onto a hard dirt ledge—we feel bruised, hurt, and even more alone. Many older women opt out of dating at this point to avoid being hurt again. 

3) Being so specific about who we date that we date no one.

I applaud women who know what they want. Many of us have written detailed partner wish lists, including characteristics that are deal breakers or must haves for a partner. Visioning is a powerful tool. However, lists can be a trap if each potential date is evaluated on how well they conform to an imagined partner. No one starts out as a partner, but if there can’t be a first date until they look like one, it’s a Catch-22 – they have no chance to become one! Ironically, focusing only on the list increases the danger of missing someone who might actually match the list.  

Do any of these dating pitfalls sound familiar?    

Let us know in the comments if you have experienced them, and whether you figured out a way to avoid them.

How I tried to avoid the pitfalls: dating as a research project

At age 57, to avoid these pitfalls, I decided to approach dating as a research project—researching the type of man I might like. I set a goal of going out on 50 dates. The men didn’t have to be potential partners—they just had to represent different types of men, in personality, professions, and lifestyle. As I dated, a vision of my partner emerged.

To find out whether this helped me avoid these pitfalls, read my next post!  

Goals of this blog

I want to inspire women, especially older women, to enjoy dating and find the right partner for them. I want to model being sexual in our 50s and beyond for those who want that. I want to share my stories and insights in hopes of encouraging all women to be brave, in dating, or in any part of their life.  Thanks for joining me on this journey!

**Although I’m focusing on women who are looking for men, this can be true for any older person looking for a person of any gender.

Published by Carolyn Lee Arnold

I'm the author of Fifty First Dates After Fifty: A Memoir, about my dating adventures to find my perfect partner in my late fifties. I found him, and we've been happily together for over 10 years. These blog posts explore what I learned while dating and from writing my book. For more about the book, including dating resources, other writings, and fun interviews with me, check out my website at the top of this page.

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