What's the cute catchphrase for people over 40 who are dating? After all, by the time we reach our late 30s, we should all be dating experts who know how to find the right people and build happy relationships, right?
Yeahhh, no. Not really.
When black marriage rates started to fall, first slowly, then quickly in the 1960s, a racial gap opened up. Data from the last few years show that at all ages, black Americans don't get married as often as people from other races and cultures. Less than two-thirds of black women were married by the time they were in their early 40s, compared to almost nine out of 10 white and Asian/Pacific Islander women and more than eight out of 10 Hispanic women. This is based on Census Bureau data from 2008 through 2012.
"What makes us different from other communities is that I think other races date for a reason," Michelle Williams, 43, said. “Other races date for six or seven months, then get married — that's their goal. Black people often date each other for years and never get married. By the time you reach your 40s, you have to be a little more strategic.”
Another woman believes that traditional relationship-building has been replaced by "a la carte" online dating. That may be fine if you just want a temporary companion or hookup, but it doesn't work for those looking for true partners. In your 40s, both time and patience are often wearing thin.
“I’m not looking for Superman. You don’t have to be the richest man in the world; you just can’t bring the BS to the table,” said Bridgette Gordon, 48.
When Dr. Aesha Adams-Roberts, a matchmaker, relationship expert and dating coach in Ventura, Calif., talks to her clients — mostly professional Black women — she hears these concerns and more.
Adams-Roberts' approach is to help people look at and question who they are attracted to. When she talks to singles, one of the things she does is tell them that lists of expectations should be thrown out in favor of blueprints with preferences and values that can and can't be changed. She says that we have to forget cultural lessons that have been taught to us all our lives, like the idea that love comes to us.
Disney movies and chick flicks (like Girls Trip), have taught us that the woman always ends up with a man without doing anything. That all she has to do is be there and love him. So it can seem weird to have to work for it. But if finding love is important, then you need to put in a lot of strategic work, said Adams-Roberts.
Here is her advice and strategies for people over 40 who want more dating success:
- Look. Look for the people who are looking for you, and you will find them. “Who are the people who are interested in you, who think that you are amazing? Position yourself in that pool of people,” said Adams-Roberts.
- List. When you're looking for a partner, make a list of the things that you want to have in common with your ideal person, both preferences and core values. Then rank the top three most important things on each list. What things are you willing to "meet in the middle" on?
- Persist. Too many people give up too quickly because they were on a dating site for 30 days (for free) and didn't meet anyone during that time. To get the most our of some tools, you may have to spring for a membership each month. "I call it having a dating brand. What is your dating brand? Does your profile and dating essay match that brand? And don’t give up. Keep going.”
Now in a committed relationship, Gordon is sharing the happiest time of her life by giving some advice to her fellow 40-somethings:
“I think we need to love like we’ve never been hurt before,” said Gordon. She's living proof that if you let go of your comfort zone and do something new, you open the door for new blessings — and the right people — to flow through to you.