When it comes to dating tips for women, one size doesn’t fit all. A young woman in her teens or 20s dates A LOT differently than a woman in her 30s and 40s. And while most woman generally want the same outcome, there are certain things women in their 30s and 40s know about dating that they disregarded or simply didn’t focus as much on in their younger years.
That’s why we talked to some of today’s top dating experts to see what they saw as the most important advice women in their 30s and 40s dating today should think about. After going through what they had to say, we came up with these 15 top dating tips for women who are out of their 20s and ready for something more serious.
1. Know your non-negotiable These would be those instant deal breakers of yours—he’s a smoker, a non-monogamist, a cat-lover, etc.—that instantly tell you to move on so you’re not wasting your time. “What are those three things that are not negotiable when you’re looking for a relationship?” Try not to include physical or financial attributes. Focus on character traits, personality type, and value systems.
2. Don’t limit yourself. “In your 20s you might have frowned when thinking about dating a guy with a child or one that had previously been married,” says Mills. But the chances are, if a man is is his 40s, there’s a higher probability he’s been married or has kids. “Stay open to men that have been divorced.”
3. Don’t lie. Don’t even inflate the truth. Sure, you want to impress each other, but honesty from the start is a prerequisite to trust, if the picture or description of your date was inaccurate then the rest of the relationship will be likely be filled with deceptions too.
4. Forget about any texting and calling rules. Rules like ‘wait 3 days to call back’ no longer apply. “If you treat dating and love like a game, someone—or both of you—will end up the loser. If you want to, call back in the next 24 hours. It has to be honest and spontaneous if you want to be respected and start a healthy relationship.
5. Pay attention to the red flags. You know that feeling you get when you know something isn’t quite right? If your date can’t answer simple questions about where he works or acts super shady, chances are something weird is going on. “Listen to what your gut is telling you. And that goes for behaviors too. If he’s already getting on your nerves and it’s only the first date that’s another indicator that you’re just not going to work.
6. Know who you are as a person. This is a complex one but necessary to surviving in a rapid dating world. Building strength and self-confidence is key. The reality of it is, dating can be hard and feelings can be hurt. But if you know who you are and how you want to be treated then you won’t allow someone (or the dating scene) to continually hurt or discourage you.”
7. Be emotionally available. Maybe your past relationships haven’t turned out like you wanted them to, or you feel like every date in the past month was a lemon. Well, get over it. “It’s still up to you to open your heart—and keep it open. This can be scary because you don’t want to get hurt. However, in order to grow and connect, you must be available and vulnerable,” says Mills.
8. Watch the alcohol. Especially on date number one. Not only can getting drunk be risky and a turnoff, it also clouds your judgement. “Using substances like alcohol or drugs is not a good first date. It’s away to avoid a genuine connection,” says Freed.
9. Remember that dating is an exploration. Dating should be fun and nothing more than a way to meet and get to know another person, who may or may not be fit to share your life with you. “[Dating] is not a commitment. There is no obligation involved with dating. No one owes anyone anything ever. It’s easy to get excited about someone and start planning your future together, but remember that you’re both just figuring out if you even like each other first. Don’t put pressure on things by feeling like you owe each other something, you don’t.
10. Know your sexual boundaries. “Many woman can confuse sex and sexual desires with a guy’s interest in them. He wants sex, she also wants sex but thinks him wanting sex means there is something more,” says Goldstein. “Explore your sexual boundaries and know where they are and why they’re there.” And, even more importantly, don’t let yourself be pressured into doing anything you don’t want to do just because you want to gain someone’s interest.
11. Don’t hide your enthusiasm or interest. One of the dating tips for women we hear a lot is not to let a man know you like him, or to play hard to get. Well, that’s just wrong. Sure, a little mystery may be sexy in the beginning, but the game gets old fast. Even research shows that playing too much hard-to-get makes others like you less. At a certain point, you just have to let the man know you’re interested.
12. Be the date that you want to have. It’s not only your date’s responsibility to make the date a success, it’s your responsibility too. “Engage in dialogue. Put the cell phone away. Be attentive. Ask questions. Don’t bring up your ex. Take an interest in the details of his life by listening, paraphrasing, and engaging,” says Mills.
13. Ditch the dating wish list. Have your non-negotiables and boundaries, but dating with a strict itemized wish list—he must make this much, be this tall, drive this car, be this funny—will only hold you back from men who could be great for you in real life and limit you to men who only look good on paper. If you need a wish list it should be small and include feeling words instead of car makes and job titles.
14. Have fun and release the pressure. It’s normal to feel pressure as you watch your friends get married and have children, but remember that every person’s path is different. “You don’t want to settle down with a guy who’s not right for you. Therefore, release the pressure you place on yourself to lock down your next date as your future husband. Take each date one date at a time and have fun.
15. Be your true self. Any falseness or pretending will stop you from knowing that someone is into you. “If you’re real, you’ll get real results. Be brave, be true, and most of all, believe that someone will celebrate and desire you.