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Does Chemistry Trump it All when Dating in Midlife?

3 min read
Couples goals

When I joined bumble for the first time in 2018 I was a 43-year-old single mum living in London.

Most men’s profiles at the time, and even now, in the age range I was targeting (43 to 53) mentioned “Chemistry” in one form or another. It appeared to be the top criterion for men looking to date in that age range.

So what is the most important criteria for a romantic connection or choosing a partner?

One of the things I learnt is that as we move into our 40s and 50s, things get a bit more complicated. People start dating again after having been in long-term partnerships of 12+ years, with a frame of reference influenced by their experiences in their early 30s or mid-20s… yet, they very soon find out that it things have changed and it is not as straightforward as before. Especially dating complete strangers digitally!

Obligations and responsibilities are plentiful and freedom is restricted; work, children, older parents and last but not the least, ex-partners. They all want a piece of you.

It, therefore, becomes very important to be clear (as much as possible) about your needs and expectations from your future partner and the lifestyle that would allow your needs to be met.

It is not surprising that the majority of the candidates in midlife are divorced and many of them actually, relatively recently, tipping their toes into online dating, somewhat clueless of what they want and what to expect. Mostly choose “Don’t know” in their relationship status in Bumble, some attempt to avoid choosing “Something casual” in order not to chase away women, whom I suspect, if anything like me, are mainly looking for something serious. Let’s face it, women in their 40s are just starting to feel the effects of ageing (at least that is the case for me), creating a sense of urgency (I’ll pick that one up in another article…).

After a short-lived 3-month relationship with a German guy 2 years ago I learnt it the hard way that even though he kept saying he is ready for a relationship, our definition of relationship was quite different (I’ll pick up on that one in another article as well!). The financial agreement not having been signed yet by the ex, but imminent for the whole period of 3 months resulted in a painful separation just before Christmas.

On the other hand, you may encounter the very few never-married, no-children men who are free as a bird and maybe have commitment issues… or what we call these days “emotionally unavailable” or “avoidant attachment style” ;)

There is another category which always appealed to me as I approached my 50s; the slightly older mid and late 50s men whose children are at university. Fully divorced, they already have had 1 or 2 transitional or serious relationships so there is less of a risk of becoming a rebound. They are more likely to be looking for a long-term partnership or even marriage. Surely, it does not make sense to keep being a serial monogamist approaching your 60s, even if you are maintaining your testosterone levels with high fitness regimes.

Obviously, there are always exceptions to the rule. We cannot and should not pigeonhole people into boxes. However, there is no denying, at least based on my dataset of many many swipes, calls, meetings, 2nd dates and a handful of short-lived relationships, there definitely is a pattern out there. The exceptions usually require two people who are committed to the process, are intelligent and emotionally mature to want and be able to solve challenges together as a team.

So choose wisely… be prepared…Know what you want, what works for you, and what you need in terms of investment from your romantic partner before you are far gone down the line and too involved.

Chemistry is important, but it is not the only key success factor (as we call it in business ;) for a healthy long term relationship.

Good luck! And if this piece resonated with you follow me on the social platforms listed below or contact me directly if you are new to online dating and can do with some hand-holding.

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