During my 20s and 30s I didn't date much. I was completely focused on my career, grad school and starting a business. I had a lot of fabulous girlfriends who filled my life with fun. Once in a while, I went to a singles dance, but that was always a disaster. I would return home disappointed and angry to the pile of clothes I had tried on while getting ready. Every time, I vowed I would never go again.
I didn't understand what the problem was. I was a friendly person and talked to almost everyone. I had a pretty face, although admittedly a few extra pounds. I dressed well, and had nice hair and makeup. But I never met any interesting men.
Occasionally, someone fixed me up on a blind date, but that was just as bad as the singles dances. At one point I hired a matchmaker, but after three dates, I demanded my money back. She set me up with terrible guys who didn't meet my criteria at all.
Before I knew it, I was 40 and still single. At that point, I was extremely upset. I didn't understand how this could happen to me. I had boyfriends while growing up. Why were men now so seemingly scarce? Then, something inside me snapped and I decided to look at this from a new angle. Maybe I was the reason I was still single?
I asked one of my girlfriends, Christine, who knew a lot about men, why she thought I was still single. She gently told me she didn't think I was open to meeting men. I was shocked! This sent me down a path of self-assessment. Here is what discovered:
My college boyfriend had hurt me and left me scarred.
I knew men who had open affairs, which made me believe that all men were scum.
I rarely did anything to meet men.
Waking up to these three things about myself helped me realize that my own negative beliefs were keeping me single. Knowing what the problem was, I could now take steps to change it.
Step One: I opened my heart. I put myself on a program I still use with my dating coaching clients today. First, I worked to open my heart and get my love energy moving. Everyone has loving energy, so I figured if I could be aware of that love, I would be more attractive. I did affirmations and visualizations to see myself as lovable.
Step Two: I worked on my looks. I no longer felt desirable as a woman, which chipped away at my self-esteem. I went on a diet, started exercising and whipped myself into shape. I got a great new hair cut and bought a bunch of new clothes that I considered to be "Date Worthy." Within six weeks, a friend called to fix me up with a friend of hers. Apparently, the inner work was starting to pay off! He wasn't Mr. Right, but he sure was Mr. Right Now; he was just what I needed to feel better about myself. We dated casually over six months.
When that ended, I went on an incredible man-meeting campaign. I went to dances, singles events and ran a few personal ads (before online dating was popular) to meet men with a new attitude. Every week I went out at least once.
Step Three: I shortened my list. Rather than the laundry list I used to have for the right man, I narrowed the list to five must-have qualities:
He must have a good heart and be a good person.
He must have a sense of humor and get mine.
He must be fun to spend time with.
He must accept me for who I am as I would accept him.
He must want a long-term relationship.
In addition, he had to be single, emotionally available, attractive, honest and employed.
Step Four: I saw the abundance of men. My shorter list freed me up to date all kinds of guys. What a blast I had! I dated a heavy equipment operator, a train engineer, a car salesman, a high-tech salesman, an attorney, an architect, a tool and die maker, an insurance salesman and a postman to name a few. Overall, I dated 30 men in 15 months to meet the man I married, who is a mechanic.
Even though I have an MBA, I didn't insist on my dates being professionals. Dating guys from all walks of life helped me become skilled at interacting with men. I no longer got upset by a bad first date or not getting a second date. The more men I dated, the more confident I grew. And even better, I discovered that men find a confident woman very sexy.
Step Five: I gave men a chance. In the past, if a man didn't fit my perfect picture and wasn't as successful as I was, I'd turn my nose up at him. I didn't meet that many men, so I shut down my options too quickly, leaving me single until I was 40.
My secret this time around was to give men a chance. I got to know them for who they were and what they had to offer as human beings. I held them up to my 5-part list to determine if I should keep seeing them. I became adept at letting go. Even on a first date, if I felt the guy wasn't right, I figured out how to reject him kindly.
Step Six: I didn't give up. What really worked for me was to keep dating no matter what. Trust me, I got disappointed by men. Sometimes I was at my wits end. Then, I would meet someone new. Every man I met brought me one man closer to the right one for me.
Finally, I met my husband. We were set up by a friend of a friend, whom I had told about my dating adventures in great detail. Paul was her brother and my last first date. I didn't know immediately that he was the one. But he was consistent. He had a good heart. He had a sense of humor I enjoyed and was fun to be with. He seemed to get me. Plus, he was really cute.
We just celebrated our 14th wedding anniversary. We are still in love and he's still cute. Recently, I was in my car driving near my house and I saw Paul walking down the street. My heart fluttered like it had years ago just to see him unexpectedly.
As a dating coach for women over 40, I share my story with you to inspire and tell you what worked for me. Finding love in midlife is completely possible. People fall in love every day. You could be next. Try these tips to open your heart and start meeting men. Build your confidence and skills interacting with men. Above all, believe that everything you do will be worth it once you find love.
Are you a woman over 40 ready to start dating or dating, but not meeting the right men? Get the proven dating advice you need for women over 40 from a dating coach who has helped thousands. Download my free book 5 Big Turnoffs that Drive Men Away so you can avoid heartbreaking mistakes on your way to finding the magic of love.