Dating isn’t easy. All the complications like determining who should make the first move, who should pay for the date, what you should wear, and the question of should you end the date with a handshake or a kiss is enough to confuse anyone. And whether you’re a newbie or a dating veteran, you know that these questions are not easily answered.
But there is a different set of issues when it comes to dating in your 30s and beyond. With growing older comes a different set of concerns. In this part of our Mature Girl’s Guide to Dating series, we will be discussing four different scenarios that women of a certain age may face when it comes to romance and dating.
Read on and you may just find a few tips you can use, whether you’re 21, 31, or even 41.
CASE #1: "It’s been so long. I feel so old-fashioned. I’m so conscious of what my date will think of me. What if he thinks I’m too eager to get back into a relationship? Really, I’m not!"
Janice*, 34, is a banker who is just getting over an eight-year relationship. "He was my childhood friend and first boyfriend," she says. "It came to a point where we had different goals in life and had to part ways. It was hard because I’ve already developed a bond with his family and genuinely care for them. But I realized that you can’t force a happy ending just because you spent a number of years together."
Six months into what she calls her grieving period, she sought comfort in the arms of a friend. "(But) when the relationship became intimate," she recalls, "I felt guilty for using him to fill the void."
Real estate broker Karen, 40, recently left an 11-year-relationship. "This may sound mean, but the relationship was not working for me anymore," she says. "I was bored. Eight years into the relationship, I had wanted to leave but couldn’t bring myself to do it. He was such a nice guy but he felt things were fine as they were. He was more interested in his PS2s and cars rather than investing in our future. I wasn’t necessarily looking for a ring, but I had wanted to travel and relocate to a new home. I didn’t want to be the only one to carry the financial load."
Karen’s breakup was painful, even for her. "Leaving him made me feel guilty," she says. "Sometimes I wonder if I just ruined his life. But then if I had stayed, that would have probably ruined my life."
Both women have now cautiously gone back to dating other people at the prodding of their friends.
"I grudgingly agreed to date, but only in group dates," says Janice. "My aversion to dating is not really related to my past experience with my ex. Even before him, I didn’t like dating, which I find to be pretentious and taxing."
Karen, who was more used to dating in her younger days, admits to feeling uneasy when she goes out with someone. "It’s been so long. I feel so old-fashioned sometimes. It takes me so long to figure out what to wear, what the appropriate ‘date places’ are these days and most of all, how to behave. I’m always so conscious of how I come across to my date. God forbid that he sees me as someone too eager to get back into the comfort of a relationship which, really, I’m not."
THE EXPERTS SAY:
"Go slow. The goal is to have fun, not snag a new partner as soon as you can," says Irma Mutuc, a therapist at the Living Free Foundation in Makati. "Remember that you haven’t done this in a long time. You need time to get used to it again. You might fumble, that’s okay. Don’t take every date too seriously, and don’t jump into bed or into a relationship right away. Remember, you are valuable, not desperate." Malyn Cristobal, also a therapist at Living Free, says, "Enjoy being single and get to know yourself first—after a big hurt, people usually grow or even become a different person."
And what about your ex? Psychologist Stella Dizon of the Health and Wellness Center in Quezon City says, "Some people seem to have the notion that everyone can remain friends with their exes. It’s possible for some people but unrealistic for others, particularly if their interests have gone in different directions. So don’t stress yourself out about forcing a friendship. Instead, focus on rediscovering yourself and reconnecting with parts of the world that you may have abandoned because of your relationship like some friends, your family, travel, food, retreats or whatever other things that interest you."
Looking to read more? Watch for Case #2, out next week!
*Names have been changed.
Read the first part of the Mature Girl’s Guide to Dating series:
Read these other articles for more dating and relationship tips:
Is your man good for your self-esteem?
5 Tips on Breaking the Ice on a First Date
Dealing with a Ladies’ Man: How to Not Get Swept Off Your Feet
(First Published in Marie Claire Philippines, Features section as "The 30+ Dating Guide" in February 2009. Photo by Niccolo Cosme; adapted for use in Female Network)