If life has found you back in the dating game, Kelly Marie Hoffman has some tips for success.
First, says this relationship expert, is to find someone who’s authentic, responsible and commitment-worthy. Do you want someone who knocks your socks off, or someone who “shows up?”
Hoffman casts her vote for the one who shows up.
“What’s sexier than loving someone who wants to spend their life with you?” she says.
Unfortunately, for the over-45 single folks, the dating game — online and otherwise — can be confusing and challenging. You’re fighting cultural traditions, past relationships and future expectations.
Update your skills with these tips from Hoffman, a marriage and family therapist and frequent contributor to AM Northwest. While she’s speaking directly to women, these tips also apply to men.
1. Let go of the past
Past generations of women were taught to be subservient to men, growing up in a “’50s paradigm,” she says. They settled for feeling alone in their marriages and, in many cases, raised their children alone.
This time around, seek a partner with whom you can have emotional, intellectual and physical intimacy.
“Date a man who appreciates you and wants a relationship,” Hoffman says, “even if you haven’t dated in years or haven’t ever dated a man who treated you right.”
Additionally, avoid badmouthing other relationships and negative attitudes.
2. Know what you want
Who do you want to partner with? Know your needs and keep it real, Hoffman says.
“It’s important to think out who you are and tell your story without embellishment,” she says. “Men want authentic women.”
Know what you enjoy and say it. “Don’t say things like, ‘I’m not looking for a one-night stand,’” she says. “Men will take it you’ve had a few.”
If you’re building an online profile, point out the life you have built.
The lure, Hoffman says, “is who you really are, such as ‘I want a man with whom I can share a glass of wine and enjoy a sunset.’ You are not looking for a skydiver, but a man capable of giving and receiving love, someone who adores you.”
The key, she adds, is whether he’s a fit for you. “Don’t build stories in your head about a man. Stick to the facts.”
3. Date with knowledge
Going without it is like putting on a wet suit and heading into the ocean with no training on how to navigate the waves, Hoffman says. Stop thinking “it’ll just happen. That is not true. The important things in life need a skill set, like the skills to see you are only attracting narcissists, for instance.”
Many women ask Hoffman when and where to find the man for them.
“I say the short answer is ‘when you are the person skilled in dating’ and the ‘where’ is everywhere and anywhere,” she says. “Get confident. Chose your own ‘where.’ The perfect partner could be right under your eyes. Two people should like each other.”
4. Avoid scammers
Navigating online dating can be especially tricky. There are good people everywhere — and scammers as well.
Be wary, Hoffman says, of those who come on too strong, use too much flattery and then begin asking for small sums of money. Too many women build a story about the man instead of listening to the facts. These men prey on women who are emotionally vulnerable.
“They know how to say a kind word to a woman starving for kindness her whole life,” she says.
“Be Sherlock,” Hoffman says. “Watch out for someone who says something and then contradicts himself in other ways. Watch out for the man who says he will call you on Friday and you don’t hear from him in seven days. He’s not your guy.”
5. Keep it real
It’s not about dressing sexy or growing your hair long when you like it short.
“Yes, you should try to be attractive but there is no dating look,” Hoffman says. “It’s important you are clear about what you want. Let the man see you as a gift to their life, to feel lucky they met you. Both sides need to show up and not take anything for granted. An authentic person is as close as they can be to who they want to be.”
Additionally, there is no “too old” in the quest for companionship.
6. Date from a place of strength
Don’t approach dating as a need. Ask yourself if this man you’re dating is the kind of person you want to have in your life and whether you are a person someone wants to be with.
“You don’t want a person who shows up as a little boy,” Hoffman says. “If he says he likes children, observe whether that is true. You think he could be a great dad, but he shows up totally different.”
7. Don’t get discouraged
“If you’ve met 10 men and nine were not interested, it’s about finding the one who is,” she says. “You are not looking for 10 men who want to date you. You are looking for a good fit with one.”
Relationships should be real and based on trust and integrity. “Nobody can keep a shallow relationship,” Hoffman says. “You end up bitter or spiritually dead. Be clear about what you don’t like and have two or three character traits you won’t compromise on.”