Dating After 40: Dante’s Fifth Circle of Hell

Engage with the West Michigan Woman Community!

When I divorced just shy of 40, I had no interest in dating, let alone marriage. I imagine a lot of people feel that way.

When loneliness kicked in and I decided I did want to find a new relationship, I had no idea how to go about it. It had been a long time. Between the people who wanted to set me up on blind dates, and the suggestions to try online dating, I was terrified. I remember thinking, "Maybe if someone just falls into my lap ... that would be OK."

As a good friend of mine, a widow in her 60s, began trying the online dating scene, I became even more hesitant to put a toe in that water. It seemed as though looking at profiles and responding to inquiries had become her new job, and there were a lot of frogs out there. While she did eventually find a prince of a guy, I wasn't sure I had the fortitude for that.

If bars, online dating sites, and other traditional pick-up locales are not your cup of tea, here are some West Michigan Woman reader suggestions on where to find a relationship again—without feeling like you're on the prowl or on display at the meat market:

  • Say "yes" to invitations from friends. Expand your social circle. Whether it's a cookout, charity luncheon, or walking in a 5K, get out there and be social! Make a point to interact with people beyond your regular social circle. (Not just with people you might be interested in dating, either. You never know who might be acquainted with someone who is also looking to date.)
  • Go it alone. Concerts, book readings, a good café ... Don't miss out on things you want to do just because you don't have a "plus one"—and recognize that you're more approachable on your own. As Harry Potter once asked, "Why do they [girls] have to travel in packs?" Leave your "pack" once in a while.
  • Pursue your interests. Whether it's taking a fitness class, attending an expo, or signing up for hiking or paddling excursions, it's guaranteed the people you meet will have at least one thing in common with you! Attend a class offered by your local hardware store for DIY projects, or a cooking class offered by a good local restaurant. Check out www.meetup.com for community groups focused on a range of sports, hobbies, and lifestyles.
  • Take your favorite book (unless it's Fifty Shades or the like) or magazine to a coffee house or juice bar, and read for a bit. Seeing the title might make someone realize you're members of the same tribe, and lead to conversation.
  • If you have kids, get friendly with other parents at extracurricular events. The ski lodge, stadium bleachers, and practice field sidelines are often populated with other singles, or people who might be able to play matchmaker.
  • Don't be afraid to say, "I'd like to get to know you better. Here's my card. Get in touch."

Written by Jennifer Reynolds, West Michigan Woman staff writer, who will celebrate her third anniversary this June with the nice guy who "just fell into her lap." A mutual acquaintance put them in touch via Facebook, based on their shared interest in boating.


More stories you'll love