In the 2010 Sex, Romance, and Relationships survey by AARP, 46 percent of the midlife respondents were not married. Whether you've never been married, are on the outs with your significant other or are divorced, enjoying the single life over age 40 isn't the same as it was during college or when you were just starting out. Your already-accumulated life experience coupled with obligations such as career or family may mean that making the most of being single at this age is a blend of mature responsibility and exciting exploration.
Open yourself up to new experiences. Social psychologist Bella DePaulo wrote on the Psychology Today website that research points to single women being more open to new experiences than those who are married. Instead of sticking with the same activities that you have done for years, try something new. For example, if you've spent the last 20 years at home as a housewife and are newly divorced, go out with your friends for a night on the town or sign up for a singles ballroom dancing class. Include new experiences that involve a potential romantic partner as well as those with friends or by yourself.
Let go of the past. Past relationships and experiences can breed emotional reactivity, according to licensed social worker Debra Manchester MacMannis on the PsychCentral website. Acknowledge your past hurt or stresses and tale a look at what you've learned from these conflicts. For example, you blindly trusted your ex-husband only to find out that he had been cheating for 15 years of your marriage. Instead of closing yourself off because you fear that a new man will hurt you, accept that you've learned to become more demanding when it comes to earning your trust in a romantic relationship.
Focus on the excitement of dating again, as someone with experience. It's normal to feel anxious or scared about jumping back into the dating pool when you're over 40, explains licensed psychologist Suzanne B. Phillips in her article "Midlife Dating: From Solution to Evolution." Even though you may feel rusty when it comes to dating, remember that other people who are your age likely feel the same way. Think of the possibilities that new social situations provide instead of the fact that you haven't been on a date for 20 years.
Reconnect with past friends. A 2012 study in the journal "Information, Communication and Society" noted that Internet communication offers people in the midlife stage the chance to easily reconnect with friends from the past. Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter or Instagram provide ways to find and interact with former college roommates, high school pals and other acquaintances that you've lost touch with over the years.
Make a change in your own life -- for yourself Use what you've learned about life and yourself to try something completely new. This change may range from something that is seemingly small such as joining a gym and starting a new exercise routine to a something that is much larger such as starting a new career. Having resilience and being able to find new coping strategies can help you to make a change for the better and enjoy this midlife period.
Move past your old roles such as housewife or stay-at-home mom, suggests psychologist Vivian Diller on Psychology Today.com. Look forward to who the new, single you is. make a list of what you want out of life and see yourself in a new role.
- AARP: Sex, Romance, and Relationships
- Information, Communication and Society: We Haven't Talked in 30 Years: Relationship Reconnection and Internet Use at Midlife
- Psychology Today: Living Single: Are the Early Years the Hardest: Part I
- PsychCentral: Confronting Your Ghosts of the Past: How to Assess Your Relationship
- PsychCentral: Midlife Dating: From Solution to Evolution
- HealthyChildren.org: Dating After Divorce
- Psychology Today: Reinventing Yourself at Midlife: Look Before You Leap Using the Three R's