Finding Love Again
Finding Love AgainDating in your 40s and beyond can be scary, but it’s worth the riskBy Lisa McKinney
As the author of three books on love, lust and romance, I have done countless hours of research on the subject. Unfortunately, writing about romance doesn’t always guarantee the same degree of passion in real life. As a 40-something single mom with a wide circle of friends, financial stability and fulfilling career as a marriage therapist, I encountered more villains than heroes in my quest for happily ever after. That is until I tried a few of the following ideas listed below and found my own knight in shining armor. With the practical advice offered here, maybe you’ll be inspired to keep looking for your own Prince Charming.
Are you over 40 and in a dating rut? Fifty and can’t find a date? Sixty and alone? If I’ve just described you, then you know how difficult it is to navigate the crazy world of dating once you’ve reached this stage of your life. Add the difficulties everyday life presents and dating becomes more of a chore than a pleasure. Simply put, dating just isn’t as easy as it was when we were younger.
Swim to the top of the dating pool at the swank Caliza Restaurant in Alys Beach.
If you’re willing to step outside your comfort zone and follow a few simple suggestions, dating can be an exciting adventure. All you need to do is get out there and have fun.
Wanted: Married Friends
Sometimes a friend knows you better than you know yourself, at least when it comes to picking a mate. Every married person on the planet has a single friend or two tucked away that they would love to fix up, so why not ask yours for help? Let them know you’re dating and give specifics on what you’re looking for in a potential mate. Then beg, I mean, ask them to arrange an introduction. Chemistry will take care of the rest.
Use Animal Attraction
Never underestimate the power of a pet. Take your pooch to the Niceville Dog Park on a pretty Saturday morning or HarborWalk Village, which is not only dog friendly — you and your pet can both catch a bite to eat. Be bold and smile at the cutie with the terrier and then ask about his or her favorite brand of puppy treats. You may find a canine connection with your potential mate.
It Happened on the Way to the …
Always dress as if you’re expecting to run into someone fabulous, even if it’s just a quick trip to the grocery store. You may get the opportunity to ask the person in aisle three which spaghetti sauce tastes better. Don’t even think about wearing your sloppy sweats at the gas station. That prospect in the Mercedes could present an opportunity, especially if you take the chance and strike up a conversation on the price of gas.
Location, Location, Location
Most 40-somethings and beyond learned early in their dating career how to navigate the ins and outs of the club scene. They know all too well that a rowdy bar isn’t usually the best place to meet a potential long-term mate. However, there are a few chic, fashionable and tasteful locations to meet other like-minded singles. If this is your venue of choice, consider a place that is cozy and comfortable, with a warm atmosphere that caters to a quiet setting — which can be perfect for practicing those flirting skills. Try an old standby like Ruth’s Chris Steak House in Destin for a relaxing atmosphere and familiar faces, or Marlin Grill in Miramar Beach, with its sophisticated vibe and cozy bar booths.
Looking for something a little more casual? Try The Red Bar in Grayton Beach or Graffiti’s Funky Blues Shack in The Village of Baytowne Wharf for live music and lots of local flavor. Want to meet the tourists? Visit McGuire’s Irish Pub in Pensacola or Destin and try your luck. Just remember, the tourists will eventually have to go home.
Class, elegance and exotic atmosphere a must? Then Caliza Restaurant in Alys Beach is where you want to be. Sit poolside and people watch while enjoying a sinful foodie experience. Don’t be a cliché and send over a drink … send a dessert to that attractive guy or gal two tables down! Good conversation, not to mention service, can be found at Restaurant Paradis in Rosemary Beach. Newly opened is the V Restaurant in Santa Rosa Beach, which boasts indoor and outdoor seating perfect for watching the world go by. See someone interesting? Send your waiter over with an invitation for coffee written on your business card.
Get Off the Couch and Get Outside
Join a hiking group like Trail Hogs or Choctawhatchee Hiking Chapter, two local groups that get together to explore Florida’s trails, hike and have a good time. Find this group on Meetups.com for more details. Those who prefer a faster speed can join a runners group; it’s as much fun as it is healthy. Check out the Panhandle Runners Club or Emerald Coast Steppers at Active.com.
Ladies, take a few golf lessons. There’s a reason men head to the golf course at every opportunity, something most women haven’t figured out yet. It’s relaxing, and you get to spend hours out in the awesome Florida weather enjoying nature at its best. Call the pro shop at Sandestin, Kelly Plantation or Regatta Bay and ask to be added to a threesome. It’s a great way to meet men and pick up a new hobby.
Not Just a Cliché
Guys, get in touch with your inner guru. Give yoga a try. Feed your soul and your stomach at All One Yoga and Wellness Center, which offers a variety of classes and nutritional food — the perfect combination of indulgence and a healthy lifestyle. You just might find your soul mate on the mat across the room at Yoga by the Sea in Destin. If she’s mastered a yoga pose, ask her to show you how it’s done.
Don’t Be Afraid of Trying Something New
Every third Friday, the Fort Walton Beach Arts Alliance offers Art Walk in the entertainment district. You’ll find the streets lined with locally created arts and crafts. Luckily you don’t have to like the art to appreciate other people who might. Check out the Art and Design Society, Studio b. or the Mattie Kelly Arts Center for art shows and exhibitions. Enrich your sense of style and meet a new friend by asking their opinion on a painting or sculpture.
Go Shopping. Yes, shopping.
Most men avoid shopping, but you’ll be glad you went when you head to Destin Commons and discover a treasure trove of women. Almost every female alive loves to shop, and there’s no easier entryway into a woman’s heart than seeking her opinion on clothes. Ask the woman across the way which tie works better, but make sure you drop the fact that you’re shopping for a birthday gift for your father so she knows you’re not married. It’s a great icebreaker.
Head Back to School
When you receive an invitation from your local college alumni association, RSVP “yes.” You never know whom you’ll meet. At least you know you’ve got one thing in common to talk about — the dreaded physics class or the crazy science professor everyone avoided. Try taking a class offered at the Northwest Florida State College or the University of West Florida. Common connections are great ways to build a new relationship.
Throw a Mixer
Ask everyone who attends to bring a single friend of the opposite sex along. Your married friends should bring two, one of each gender. Give a prize for the person who brings the most single friends. Voila — a room full of new potential dates. Mr. Single or Ms. Available might be reaching for the same celery stick.
Be a Card Carrier
If you’re too shy to start up a conversation, try dating with a new and creative way to meet people — FlipMe Cards. Here’s how it works. When you see someone interesting, give your prospective love interest a FlipMe card. On one side the card boasts a catchy and cute phrase that lets them know what you’re thinking — or, in some cases, what you want. Phrases like “Care To Be Mr. Right Now?” or “Consider This A Wink and A Smile” are written on one side of the card. On the other is a website where they can leave you a message. Log into your profile to see if they’ve responded. This is a clever way to break the ice without feeling publicly rejected. This method has the added bonus of safety, giving you the chance to navigate getting to know someone online before heading out on your first date.
There are several dating websites — Match.com, eHarmony, Chemistry.com. Try Meetups.com for a list of singles and special interest groups in the Okaloosa County area. You can start your own group or join an existing one. There’s something for everyone. Another site that caters more to the “about town” crowd is Emeraldcoast.com or 30a.com. Find all your nightlife entertainment options, ranging from bars to concerts and special events.
Think Outside the Box
In order to meet singles, 40-, 50- and 60-year-olds need to do the unexpected. Change your routine. Instead of the same old coffee shop, try the new café a few blocks away. The ever-popular sporting event can provide some fun and a chance to meet like-minded singles. Join a civic organization like the Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation or, if you’re a business owner, the local chamber of commerce.
It’s just as important to consider where you go to meet people as it is taking advantage of the opportunity. Be brave and start a conversation. You have nothing to lose except another lonely Saturday night sitting at home. As always, use common sense and be safety-conscious when dating. Single people are everywhere. Make that chance encounter happen by looking beyond the typical places for that someone special. Step outside your comfort zone. You just might end up with your very own happily ever after.
Editor’s Note: If you’ve found a place to meet single people that we didn’t mention, go to our Facebook page (Facebook.com/emeraldcoast) and let us know. We’ll pass the word.