19 women on what it's really like to date over 40.

Whether you're just coming out of a long-term relationship or you've been single and mingling for years, dating in midlife can be a bit of a... mixed bag. Full of some very good, and some very not good surprises.

Off the back of Mamamia's shiny new podcast MID (have you listened to it yet?!) with Holly Wainwright, we asked women to share their experiences with dating over 40.

And yes, the people delivered.

Listen: Check out Holly's interview with Cathrine Mahoney on mid life dating below. Post continues below.

So! If you're dating, thinking about dating or just keen to peer into the world of your single friends... here's what women said about the best and worst parts of dating in mid life. 

Buckle up.

'I've kept a list of all my dates.' 

"I'm 47 (48 in August) and I have been single for 19 years. Over the last three-and-a-half years, I have started dating again. I went on 21 first dates over two-and-a-half-ish years. I dated four of those men for approximately two to three months before I broke it off — or in the case of the last one, he broke it off. One of the biggest things I find with men in that age range is they are not giving themselves enough time to heal after coming out of 20+ year long marriages. 

Watch: Dating horoscopes. Post continues below.

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"I am ready to find my last first date but they aren’t as they want to play the field. I found my self-esteem really took a hit and I started seeing myself through a swipe right swipe left lens. The last man I dated who broke up with me in November last year was the first man I had told I had loved him since my ex husband (almost 20 years ago). I was really hurt when he broke up with me and can’t fathom ever going back on the apps. Not sure how I will meet anyone not being on them but I am much happier not being on them.

I have kept a list of all 21 dates of when we went on the date and where we went and their first name and if "anything" else happened on said date. The best thing I have found is I won't settle for less anymore and I know what I want to have in my life for the rest of my life but I can’t go back on the apps."

'I've built a great life on my own.' 

"The best thing is NOT dating... it's such a relief not to even contemplate it. There are so many reasons not to and not many good enough reasons to date. I've built a great life on my own..."

'The bar is so low.' 

"The worst part is that the benchmark is so low for women seeking men. Online dating profile pics are full of men literally lying in bed or on their gaming chairs, not even smiling. No real intention of investing into a relationship, sadly. Speed dating is a little more authentic, however still lacks men who genuinely seek long-term relationships. Porn culture has so much to answer for. My best experience so far has been meeting a friend of a friend, however when you have young children, it is hard to get out and about.


After marrying young, then divorcing 10 years ago, I have had so many experiences and stories, and have had to learn so much to ensure I date well in this era. My kid is now older, so what I now wish for is a way for middle-aged single people to have community outside of the dating sphere, in the hope that this is a more meaningful way to spend social time."

'He called me middle-aged.' 

"Just became single at 42. I don't feel like I'm midlife but the guy I've been on a few dates with lately called me middle-aged the other week. Not sure there will be too many more dates! The best part is just having fun dating — I love getting to know more people and I'm mature enough now to know that dates are fun — even though it's a bit of a rollercoaster, it's still fun. The worst is the number of married men online dating where I live. Easily one out of three."

'I found my husband at 50.' 

"I heard about Bumble from you guys in about 2017 and joined up in 2018. Forever grateful as I found my soon-to-be husband as a 50-year-old woman."

'I'm not playing games anymore.' 

"I'm 40 and think it's the best thing. Especially because there's a lack of social expectations now for me to get married and have a child. I have also spent a lot of time working on myself before I considered dating to ensure I knew I would be okay alone. So I never remained in a relationship again that wasn't worth so many years of my time.


I have great friends, adore being an aunt/godmother, and have two dogs. So I ain't settling for BS any more. I'm not playing games. I'm not being negged — being hurt and reacting. I see it immediately for what it is. I just ask them how they are feeling, communicate openly with them. If they ghost me, I appreciate them saving me from washing my time.

That's the problem though — we no longer see the wrong people we loved along the way as an important part of our growth and development as we once did. There are so many options for women we now walk away from a lot of obvious red flags. So, I would say knowledge and wisdom can very quickly ruin how current dating works."

'The pool is much shallower as a gay woman.' 

"I'm current dating as an (almost) 50-year-old gay woman. The pool is much shallower than the hetero one, but no d**k pics or men holding dead fish! Observations = catfishing, general lack of effort, lots of ethical non-monogamy (ENM) types, couples seeking a unicorn for 'fun', polyamory... sprinkled with a broad spectrum of women who are 'bi-curious'."

"Plenty of women in this age bracket that have come out of long-term hetero marriages and are seeking a female companion. The apps make me feel 'old-fashioned' wanting a monogamous long-term relationship." 

'The best part is finding good restaurants and making connections.' 

"I have been on and off the sites/apps since 1996 and made my first online friends in 1991 at uni. I'm 52 and happily single for the most. The worst part of it for me is all the fake profiles, scammers, men pretending to be something they're not and only interested in sex — which is fine, but please, women generally need some form of connection. Also, thinking you have a connection with someone and meet them IRL and go oh, no... you are not my jam. This happened with my first online crush in 1991 — I learnt early on! The best part is meeting people, finding good restaurants, making connections and very very occasionally a relationship."


'One guy printed a map of the Christmas light houses in town.' 

"It's exhausting and the pickings be slim. I feel like it highlights that women have changed and adapted but there really hasn’t been the focus/shift on men needing/wanting to do the same. Other worsts is that often the ones that are lovely and would be great partners don't have a spark. One of my bests was a guy who had printed a map of the Christmas light houses in town and we went driving and looked at them after dinner. We didn't work out because the spark wasn’t there — but we had a few lovely dates and laughs along the way."

My worst was a guy admitting to be an ex-con and ex-drug user on date one. No actual judgement on either, everyone makes mistakes, but just... great first date conversation! Another date told me about the cream he needed to use to assist his swimmers in making his children because he has low testosterone. Again, no judgement about this, just not sure it’s a first date type of thing to spring on a girl."

'I set my bar high.' 

"I was back on the dating scene 13 years ago when I was 42. I had a lovely time meeting interesting men and had a few long-term relationships. I was back on the scene two years ago and set my bar high — I was not going to put up with someone who didn't meet my standards. I was looking for someone who had a solid job, financially secure, mature or no children, neat, not needy, etc. I met the most amazing guy, and at the age of 55 we are getting married next month. I think as long as you are smart about it, you can have fun. If they can't meet you in person after a week or so of chatting, then forget them. No point wasting time on texters. Real-life, real stories and be honest."


Enough said...

"I could write a book."

'I want a partner to chill with.' 

"I'm a 41-year-old single mother. The best part of not dating is not having to clean up after an extra person. The worst part is also wanting a partner to chill with... it's a conundrum."

'They talked about their ex-wives during our date.' 

"I met my now husband on a dating app, but gee I kissed a few frogs along the way! We've been together nine years now, but I was shocked at the effort some men were making (e.g. close to none). Most were bitter about their ex-wives leaving them and talked about them during our date, and there were a couple who were bewildered by my independence — like, they didn't know why I wanted a partner when I had a great job and my own house...".

'He was married and had kids!' 

"I've spent 11 years on and off the apps and I've just turned 50. Here is a doozy for you.. there was a guy who told me he had to return to Sydney urgently (I'm in Melbourne) because his sister had been in a horrific car accident and he needed to look after his special needs nephew. He even kept me updated on her alleged vitals over the first 72 hours. It was alleged he had been seconded to Ambulance Victoria from NSW. Long story short, this guy had given me enough information for me to work out that he wasn't actually who he said he was... and the horrific accident was a complete lie. He was married and had kids! I called him out on his BS and told him I hoped his karma came sooner rather than later.


The worst is the lack of men in the same headspace/stage in life — those that are looking to start a family, ready to settle down and mature enough to make the commitment. There just aren't enough good men out there it seems...! Also, why it is so hard to find a man that can hold a decent conversation and knows how to ask questions back and keep a chat flowing?!"

'It was the best thing I did at age 53.' 

"I would have to say it was the best thing I did at aged 53. I did take off three years though! I had four dates from Tinder — two gave me the ick, but two were great. One was a bit of a fling, but the last one was my soulmate. I don't think our paths would have ever crossed if we didn’t take the plunge and put ourselves out there. We got married five weeks ago. Don't give up!"

'It's a numbers game.' 

"I'm 51 and single by choice for 11 years. Avid dater. Very high sex drive — higher than most men I meet. I find it’s a numbers game — I'm always dating several men at once. The bar is very low but I've learned how to fish out the ones I like."

'I met someone amazing immediately.' 

"I'm 46 and began dating last year after ending a relationship. The worst thing would be a man I'd known for over a decade lying to me about his relationship status while he pursued me. The best thing is that I found the apps to be not nearly as bad/difficult/scary as I'd expected. I met someone amazing almost immediately, which I put down to a bit of luck and some decent filtering. My first ever online date became a serious relationship."


'You meet just as many tools in real-life as on the apps!' 

"I'm 48 and recently partnered up, but just did about three years of dating on the apps. I met my guy on an app too. I do recommend it as its so easy. You meet just as many tools in real life to be honest!"

'Speed dating is a hoot!'

"After two years separated at age 50, I hit the apps to just have a laugh. Well, on the second date I clicked with a guy — we had a lovely couple of years together but now done as we're wanting different things but still remain great friends. I go through phases of being on all the apps (except Tinder) and then not.

I also started speed dating which is a real hoot! My friend and I do it for entertainment... we're up to event number four tomorrow night. Even if we don't connect with anyone, we have a great time and it gets us out of the house. You never know, one day we just might meet the right guy... but we don't care, really. It can be brutal, but it's important to not drop your girlfriends — think of a guy as a bonus, not a necessity! Most of all, have fun!"

Are you a midlife dater? Go on, share your experience with us in the comment section below.

Feature image: Getty

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