**This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events that I have experienced firsthand; used with permission.
If you’re over the age of 35 and swimming through the dating scene, it can be so much more complex to navigate than dating in your 20s.
Actually, there are many reasons why dating after the age of 35 presents more dynamic challenges and it’s not just about gaps in the knowledge or use of dating apps.
By the time most people reach the age of 35, they’ve likely established some kind of significant life history.
Even if someone has lived a relatively uneventful life, it’s pretty hard to escape having had some kind of interaction by the time the mid-30s hit — such as relationships, marriage, having children or experiencing divorce.
When I was first dating my current husband, he had a 6-year-old child with a biological mother who was not overly involved in his life. I knew I had to be sure about this relationship before jumping in because it wasn’t just about me — or the man I was dating. A child was involved.
My decision about dating this person wasn’t just about fun, companionship, or attraction — it was also about potentially becoming an 'instant parent' down the road.
If things don’t work out when dating a person who has a child or children, it means not only ending a relationship with that person but also potentially leaving a child or children in the lurch.
I took the situation with my current husband very seriously when we were dating. Others may not have taken it seriously and this is one of the many challenges of dating as a single parent at any age. Not only are you trying to find a compatible mate for yourself, but also a good parent for your child.
Many people over the age of 35 who already had children in the past and are dating again in the present have older children — teenagers — and that’s a whole other challenge as far as bringing new partners into the mix. Blending teenagers and their complicated dynamics together with a potential new partner can be utterly daunting.
There’s also the fact that many people over the age of 35 who don’t have children already have decided that they don’t ever want to have children. This is becoming more and more common.
Once you reach a certain age and are dating, the decision of whether or not to have children or finding out if a potential new partner may or may not be interested in helping to raise existing children is a really big deal.
If a potential partner isn’t willing to help raise children that already exist— that’s an obvious dealbreaker. Being on the same page about children in any manner that they come into the relationship is vital.
There’s also the big, looming issue of trust.
By the time people reach their mid-30s and are newly dating, it’s likely they have a significant amount of emotional scarring from past relationships. A good portion are seriously traumatized by breakups and/or divorce.
There are inevitably going to be trust issues. There are inevitably going to be growing pains. There is inevitably going to be some discomfort in learning to open up to another person again.
Beginning the arduous journey of trusting someone again can take years sometimes. Navigating the dating world after the age of 35 can feel more compromising — more vulnerable.
Generally, by the time you reach that age, there’s more at stake in embarking on a new relationship as opposed to when you were 18 or 21.
The important thing to remember is that although dating over a certain age may feel scary and cause you to be much more cautious, there’s still so much to explore. The experiences that the potential partners you might meet along the way can bring rich, important lessons and new, shared adventures.