The 5 Phases of Mid-Life Relationships
Let’s face it—creating a successful relationship during mid-life can be a challenge, and at times it can be a total pain in the ass. We all know people who have no trouble finding and keeping a relationship after 40. It’s tempting to say they find potential mates everywhere because they’re in good physical shape, financially stable, and have a healthy mindset. But is that belief correct? Are those the only criteria for successful mid-life dating?
No and no.
Even if you’re a few pounds overweight, have more bills than you’d like, and think men are jerks sometimes, it doesn’t mean you’re doomed to stay single, not at all. You can have the relationship you want—it just takes a little work.
I’ve identified five phases of mid-life relationships and what you can expect during each.
Attracting partners is harder after 40 simply because we’re all older and a little set in our ways. Finding an emotional fit who also matches your communication style and needs may take a little longer. Sometimes we find that the people we’re attracted to aren’t attracted to us, and vice versa. It happens.
When you do attract a good guy, it’s easy to accidentally push him away or let him go. One of the main reasons why good people don’t connect with one another is because the minute one thing is “off,” one or both of you are on to the next potential partner. We expect perfect, and I hate to tell you, but no one is perfect—are you? That’s the flip side of dating sites—so many options.
So what’s a great woman to do here?
Be open to all possibilities. Don’t be the woman who jumps from guy to guy, and don’t be so darn picky. When a good guy comes into your life, don’t dismiss him for silly reasons. Give him a chance. Go out with him at least three to five times over at least two weeks before you tell him no. Every guy you run into is going to have a few quirks. You expect him to take you as you are, so you have to do the same.
Yes, you do. Period.
Here’s the thing: When you give a guy a chance, you may find he’s exactly who you’re looking for, even if he’s not the one you had in mind. If you flit from date to date like a bee looking for honey, you’re going to miss the tastiest flower.
So you’ve attracted a great man into your life and you’ve been dating for a while. You have shared values, you have fun, and you have admiration and respect for each other. And the sex is great.
Now comes the fun part. Or the stressful part, depending on your attitude.
It’s time to think practically about how well you two fit together. Did you start out as a long-distance relationship? That can create problems when you want to see each other more and involve kids, family, and friends in your lives. In fact, you can expect some hurt feelings, some pissiness, and some awkwardness. That’s OK.
So start small. Take the whole gang for a picnic at the park and see how things go. Include the dogs—they’re family too. It’s quite a task to blend two lives together, and it takes time to work out. If you can get through a picnic or a trip to the grocery store, it’s a good sign.
How you two handle this phase will help you see how your lives will blend should you become serious. As you continue your relationship, you’ll see how well the two of you work in the real world. And this may show you that your relationship isn’t meant to be. Better you find out now than in six months.
Storming is conflicts and all the junk that happens when two different people come together. This is when you get mad at him for the toilet seat being up, and he gets irritated with you about hair in the shower. Or he wants to watch football with his buddies and you want to share an activity together cuz it’s your only free day to spend with him. You need to know how healthy your conflicts can be and if you can have differing opinions in a positive way.
Sometimes second-guessing or doubt happens during this phase, which is absolutely normal. Question yourself and the relationship as much as you need to. Surviving a storm takes a relationship to deeper intimacy and strengthens it. Don’t listen to people who claim they’ve never had a disagreement. Either someone is full of it, or someone doesn’t stand up for himself or herself.
In this phase, you’ll see if you truly do share values and can be together long-term. Nothing like a storm to bring out the best and worst in you and your partner.
The nesting phase is when one or both of you begin spending more time at the other’s home. You truly feel like a couple, and you believe that this relationship is real and has a good chance of going the distance.
When men nest, they aren’t going anywhere. If you find yourself together most nights of the week (or as much as you can considering the kids), and you have space for your things at his place, you’re nesting. You may see the stuff you never really wanted to, like him shaving or trimming his nose hairs. He may see you shaving your legs and cutting your nails.
This stage is typically when you move in together or start talking about marriage. It gets real now and can be a little scary, especially if you’ve been this serious before. You may continue to question yourself, which is still completely normal.
In the partnering phase, you understand that being in a long-term, healthy relationship is learning to appreciate your partner’s good and not-so-good points. You’ll discover things you wish were different, and in a healthy relationship you accept those differences and learn to appreciate (or love) them.
The practical considerations increase now, and they may cause a lot of stress and the desire to pull somebody’s hair out. You might set up a joint checking account and decide how you want to handle the finances. You’ll become closer with each other’s kids and may have a tussle with the ex or the former in-laws. You’ll see each other at your worst and at your best. You’ll handle it because you’re partners in every sense of the word.
I can’t wait for you two to get there.
As a dating coach, I can tell you that most people who struggle with dating create unrealistic expectations and call them high standards. They never make it through the first stage. They’re afraid of settling and refuse to even compromise or understand that their “standards” are cheating them out of a good or great partner. They bristle at the mention of more effective ways to relate to men.
The key in mid-life dating is to stay passionately detached. If the relationship is meant to be, it will progress naturally through these stages.
Is it really possible to find love online? In Finding Love Online: 7 Mistakes You’re Making When Seeking True Love and How To Do It Right I’ll show you how to create a standout profile, avoid scammers and much more!
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