Things I learned about dating in my forties

As I got back into dating this past year, there were a few hard lessons I learned about myself. The first one is newer to me – I’m an anxious-fearful-attachment style because of my past history with ex boyfriends who would just leave without warning. They’d disappear for weeks on end and I would take them back. Not just once – but over, and over again, falling for their lies. This would result in years worth of trauma that I never really faced.

Something else I learned about being an anxious attachment is that the best friendships or relationships I had over the years, were with people who provided me the things I needed most.

  • Consistent communication.
  • Reassurance.
  • Following through with plans.

Not so much to ask for, right? You would be surprised.

Today, as part of my mental health awareness series, I’m going to share some other lessons I learned this past year, that I wish I had known in my twenties.

If a person says they need space:

Give it to them, but with a couple of measures to protect yourself. Ask why they need it, what the rules are for your relationship and ask them for a timeline. If they cannot give you a timeline, use that space to do your own thing and work on yourself. I don’t mean to start dating right away or replace them – take the time YOU need, for YOU.

Anxiety can make this hard. But with a deadline in place, you are looking out for you. And if that person doesn’t respect your need for a date or plan, then you are not a good match. Be prepared to move on.

If a person says they want “no commitment” or a “serious relationship” – translation:

Run. Run far, run fast.

In my experience, this leads to a “situationship”. The other person may be seeing or flirting with multiple people. You are just an option. Until this person makes you a priority, you deserve so much better. Do not chase the bare minimum. Offer platonic friendship in return. Create a list of core values for yourself. State your boundaries and stick to them. In my experiences, you will wind up with the most heartache with these kinds of relationships.

They will bail when you start to admit you have feelings, or the moment life stops being fun. I’ve even lost friends because of this.

If you are a people pleaser:

Don’t sacrifice your boundaries and core values for someone who clearly doesn’t make you a priority in their life. Do things because you enjoy doing them, not for the sole purpose of pleasing your partner.

If you only have one thing in common:

For me, many of my friends and partners – the only thing we really had in common was the kink side of things. When life got in the way, or someone got sick, we ran out of things to talk about. And when you need to take a break or leave the community for a while, then a lot of those close friendships you once had, start to drift apart.

Find people you have lots in common with.

When you aren’t looking for a relationship, that’s usually when things will happen:

This happened to me both times. I wasn’t looking for anything really long-term or serious. Then my dynamic came to be, and another “ship” happened. Both times, I just wanted to be friends. Now, I’m sticking to my boundaries and only offering friendship. No more situationships.

I also know what red flags to look out for, and I’ll post that in a separate one. But those flags might not always be red flags. It depends on what you’re looking for and what your core values are.

Don’t chase for the bare minimum:

I really wish younger me would have known this – but in my day, we didn’t talk about attachment styles. Only people who were really ill went to therapy. And we didn’t have social media until later. The amount of things I learn daily on Tik-Tok about relationships – mind-blowing. And it gives me inspiration for daily posts here.

Don’t chase for the bare minimum. Stick to what your needs are, and work with your partner to offer them what they need in return. Sometimes life gets in the way or problems arise, but again, it’s a two way street. Work and commitment is needed on both sides.

You deserve more than the bare minimum. You deserve to be treated as a priority in someone’s life and not just an option.

You are not TOO much for the RIGHT person.

The hardest lesson of all. The right person for you, will be understanding about your attachment styles. They will work with you and not against you. They will listen to you and value your thoughts. They will offer reassurance when needed about your insecurities. They will love you for who you are, and not what you do for them. Well, maybe there is a little bit of both there.

All relationships are two way streets and they take work. Even in friendships. Both parties need to reach out every once in a while.

The right person will stick by you during your low points. And they won’t rush your healing. They’ll just “be there” for you.

What have you learned from relationships over the years? I sure wish I had known this when I was younger, perhaps life would have been very different.

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