"Enjoy yourself—that’s what your 20s are for. Your 30s are for learning the lessons. Your 40s are to pay for the drinks." —Sarah Jessica Parker as Carrie Bradshaw, Sex and the City: The Movie
That’s certainly one way to look at it. However, if you’re like the many single 40-somethings out there, you realize that you’re in the prime of your life, and enjoying yourself is the name of the game. In fact, with a myriad of life lessons already under your belt, now is probably the best time to find someone special—someone who is both a loyal companion and a true soul mate.
You may be on the lookout right now, using such successful online dating sites as Match.com or eHarmony, through which thousands upon thousands of people have found love. Or, you could be out on the singles scene in Atlanta, making connections as you visit the city’s numerous hot spots. There’s even a possibility that you’ve let yourself be fixed up on a blind date or two. Whatever avenue you prefer for meeting people, it never hurts to have some valuable, realistic advice from the experts as you navigate the sometimes choppy waters of finding real, everlasting love.
We’ve asked a panel of local experts to share their top tips for finding love after the age of 40. Their words of wisdom are designed to help you find the kind of relationship that meets your individual wishes and needs at this exciting point in your life. From professional matchmakers to experienced relationship coaches, we’ve gathered a group of love aficionados who understand what it takes for mature adults to identify what they want and how to achieve it.
40 tips from Atlanta’s Experts
Uli Eitel, president and CEO of Sterling
Expert Tips 1-10
1. Get into the gratitude habit. When you are grateful, you feel good about yourself and you are in the right frame of mind to attract love into your life. Acknowledging what you have lays the foundation for bringing great things, events and people into your life.
2. Set realistic relationship goals. Define the values and qualities that you need to have in a life partner. Try to narrow it down to the most important ones. Remember, nobody is perfect! Trying to find Mr. or Mrs. Perfect will keep you single forever.
3. Visualize relationship success. Often, we are our worst enemies when it comes to having a healthy self-image and a positive vision for our life. Don’t let yourself be influenced by negative thoughts about your age. Every day, couples over 40 tie the knot! Love can and will happen at any age, if you are open and receptive.
4. Take good care of yourself. A healthy lifestyle and a positive mindset are a prerequisite for relationship success. How joyful and happy we feel is reflected in our appearance and energy level, and it is directly connected to our personal relationships.
5. Follow your passions. Many singles put their lives on hold until they meet “the one.” Don’t wait to take that special trip or try out a new restaurant. One of the great gifts I gave myself when I was single was a Caribbean Cruise. I had the time of my life and actually met a few eligible gentlemen on board.
6. Get out of your comfort zone. It is time to tackle your “bucket list!” If you always wanted to take that mountain climbing class, do it. Besides pushing your limits and challenging the status quo, trying new things also presents great opportunities to meet people.
7. Keep an open mind. If your ideal man is George Clooney without the commitment issues, it is time to revise your list. Be realistic about the type of partner you see yourself with. If you meet someone who has the core values and character traits that are important to you, but he may be a bit shorter than your ideal, give it a chance.
8. Learn from your past relationships. Being over 40 is the best age to finally know what’s important in life and relationships. We can now learn from past mistakes and get it right. Do you see unhealthy patterns in your past love relationships? Now is the time for change! You may hire a relationship coach to assist you in figuring out how to create that healthy relationship you deserve.
9. Practice flirting. Men love women who are easy-going, fun and flirtatious. Make eye contact and smile for an immediate connection. If your flirting skills could use some brushing up, practice in a non-threatening environment, such as a shopping mall or grocery store. Hold that gaze just a split second too long and you may be surprised by the positive responses you’ll receive.
10. Don’t be afraid to ask for professional assistance. We are open to reaching out for professional assistance in all areas of our lives—we hire tax consultants, investment professionals or personal trainers, yet when it comes to our love lives, we mistakenly believe that we can find our life partner by chance. Hiring a professional matchmaker will greatly enhance your chances of meeting the person who’s right for you. A reputable matchmaking service will only work with qualified individuals and will ensure a comfortable and respectful experience.
Arlene Ingram, executive director and owner
Expert Tips 11-20
12. Resolve relationship issues. Anyone above 10 years old has encountered disappointments and hurts in the area of relationships. Hence, past experiences and issues may need resolution before love becomes a possibility.
13. Learn something new. Take golf, tennis or dance lessons. Ladies, men congregate on the course for business and pleasure. Gentlemen, an invitation to dance is usually welcomed and provides just enough time for introductions. In Atlanta, tennis is a popular sport. There is sure to be love with mixed doubles on the courts.
14. Always wear a smile! Smiling makes you approachable, enhances your appearance and attracts others.
15. Join a social group for singles age 40 and better. These types of groups offer diverse activities monthly and provide an instant social network.
16. Volunteer your time and talents to a charitable organization. Helping others feels good and can be an opportunity to meet others with common values. (Visit www.bestselfconnect.com for volunteer opportunities.)
17. Get out of the house! Leave the office! The FedEX person will not deliver your significant other to your door. Rather than sipping coffee alone, go to the nearest Starbucks or coffee spot. It is a great place to meet other singles.
18. Attend networking events. Check online calendars such as Events in Your Area or Atlanta Buzz for local options. Approach others with a smile and your business card. Ask how you may assist them in their profession. Networking events are great places to make connections. (Visit www.bestselfconnect.com for networking opportunities.)
19. Check out online dating sites. Many have met as a result of online sites such as Plenty of Fish, eHarmony, Match.com and Perfect Match. Submit an interesting profile with a current picture and let the communication begin!
20. Attend your high school reunion. Get reacquainted with old friends. There are plenty of stories about high school sweethearts rekindling the romance.
Irene LaCota of It’s Just Lunch,
Expert Tips 21-30
22. Positivity attracts. Speaking of baggage ... not only should you check negativity at the door, but also focus your attention on what’s fun and interesting about your date, and you will enjoy the date more. Besides, people are drawn to people who are positive!
23. Network with people you know. Your friends and your network may be one of the best resources when you are single. Not only will they be there to support you, but they also can help facilitate introductions. Before you consider looking for love far away, consider that people in your community may have connections for you that you haven’t thought about.
24. Pick up new friends. At a certain age, it’s common for singles to feel that they are in a different life stage than their married friends. If most of your Saturday nights are spent hanging out with your friend, his or her spouse and two children, even if you adore them, it may be time to pick up new single women and men for friendship.
25. Know your deal breakers. If you keep dating the same type of person and it’s not working, it may be time to revise your checklist. Ask yourself: what are your top five deal breakers? You may want to base this list on qualities people possessed who were difficult for you to handle in past relationships. (You won’t have different results if you keep dating the same type!)
26. Look in the mirror. You’re fabulous, no doubt, but there are probably things you did—or didn’t do—in your last relationship or on dates that you can learn from. So often we blame others and don’t take time to reflect on how we showed up. Once you look at your self-defeating pattern, you are less likely to repeat it.
27. Play up your passions. What are you passionate about? Passion is one of the sexiest qualities you can possess. If you haven’t done something in a while that brings you pleasure, make a commitment to try it again and you will have a certain je nais se quoi that will make you irresistible in dating.
28. Focus on what makes you a fine catch. So many daters focus on their flaws and why someone they like would never be interested in them. If self-doubt creeps up, replace the negative thought with something you absolutely love about yourself. Write down 10 things that make you a great catch. If you can’t think of anything, enroll good friends to help.
29. Take the pressure off. Early dating shouldn’t be full of pressure. You shouldn’t know if you want to marry someone after the first five minutes (contrary to popular belief and speed networking events!). The only question you need to ask yourself on an early date is if you’re having fun and want to learn more about the other person or not.
30. Take risks. If you’ve been hurt (and let’s face it, at a certain point in life we all have!), you may be anxious about getting back into the dating game. Remember that the act of love requires taking risks and being open—with your mind and in your heart.
Amber Salisbury, love coach and owner of
Expert Tips 31-40
32. Focus only on what you want. Whatever you focus on will grow. If you focus on fear, you become more fearful; if you focus on doubt, more doubtful. But if you focus on love and how much you already have in your life, you will find yourself more grateful, more satisfied and more loving. This will also help you to let go of any feelings of lack or neediness. Neediness is NOT sexy.
33. Don’t wait until you are in love to start loving. Now that you are focused on what you want—love—start acting on that emotion. Make a list of all the people you love. Friend love and family love are both very powerful emotions. Start concentrating on the relationships that you already have in your life. Let these people know how much you appreciate them.
34. Forget that you are 40. Instead, remind yourself of your brilliance and beauty. Make a list of all the things that are extraordinary about you. What do YOU bring to the party? Attraction doesn’t have much to do with age or even physical appearance but has everything to do with self-confidence—the way you carry yourself and the belief that you carry about YOU. Own and adore all that you know you are.
35. Don’t engage in negative conversations. Steer clear of any conversations about how terrible it is to be dating at 40, or how there are “no good men or women out there.” Remember to keep your focus on what you want and also remember that you only need one. With billions of people on the planet, I promise you there is at least one good one left.
36. Create a Dream Partner List. Creating a Dream Partner List is possibly the most important thing you can do when you are looking for love. Dedicate one evening to writing your list. Grab your journal and a glass of wine, put on some Barry White or whatever does it for you and then go to work on capturing all of the qualities that you want and desire in your partner. Don’t worry about being too specific. The truth is that your list is just an exercise to help you be clearer about what it is you want to attract and what you will be looking for in a mate.
37. Create a Partner from Hell List. This list is easy to do. We all know what we don’t want and have probably dated him or her several times. Think of all of the relationships that have not worked out in the past and capture—on paper—all of the qualities that you are certain that you don’t want in your Dream Man or Woman.
38. Be patient. Allow yourself to enjoy the process. Don’t become too anxious or fearful that it is not happening fast enough. Finding the right partner could happen overnight or it could take a little time. Just have fun with it. Remember—anxious, needy people are NOT sexy.
39. Make a vision board for your love life. Your brain thinks in pictures. It is easier for your mind to “create pictures” of how you want your love life unfold. Schedule an evening, invite some friends over and go through magazines, finding pictures that represent the life that you want and the partner that you want. Sunset cruises, a couple on a beach, a loving family—whatever it is that you desire. Look at this visual representation every night before bed and each morning as you wake up. Again, this is just another way to have fun with this process.
40. Celebrate bad dates. This one is key. Celebrating dates gone wrong is really important. As you are out in the dating world, experiencing many different people and dating experiences, take the time to open up your journal and capture the things you like and dislike from each person you encounter. Add to that Dream Partner List and the Partner From Hell List. Remember that each bad date is giving you more clarity about what you know you don’t want, which means that you now have an even more solid idea of the partner you want to attract. Saying NO to one thing is actually saying YES to something else.
For more information or tips from the featured love experts and relationship coaches, visit them online:
Uli Eitel, Sterling Introductions: www.sterlingintroductions.com
Arlene Ingram, Atlanta’s Upscale Single: www.atlantaupscalesingle.com
Irene LaCota, It’s Just Lunch: www.itsjustlunchatlanta.com
Amber Salisbury, Feel the Love International LLC: www.amberthelovecoach.com
3 Personal Love Stories
Gary and Uli Wills: It’s a Match
For Uli Eitel, finding people to date at the age of 44 was no problem at all. It was finding the right people—people who shared her life goals—that was the issue. “I was past 40, I had been married for a long time and I found myself back on the dating scene,” she recalls. “And it was just challenging. I wanted to find the right person—not someone just to date and have fun with on a Saturday night.”
A private and discreet person, Uli couldn’t imagine herself using today’s popular online dating sites to try and find a mate. So she began to consider professional matchmaking, which she felt would provide her with a more personal approach as she embarked on her search for love. After extensive research, she found a company that offers upscale services for single, commitment-minded adults who are seeking long-term relationships. “We started with an in-depth consultation, where I provided information about my family, my profession and my background,” she says, adding that she also was asked to identify the qualities she looked for in a potential spouse. For her, that was easy. “I wanted to meet someone commitment-minded, easygoing, fun and solid,” she notes. “And I lucked out.”
After more than a year with the service and meeting several people, Uli was matched with Gary. A delightful phone conversation led to an in-person meeting, which went extremely well. “On that first date, we had two bottles of wine and closed out the restaurant,” she muses. “There was just a sense of comfort there. We felt like we had known each other for a long time.” Within three months, the couple was engaged. And on the one-year anniversary of their first meeting, Uli and Gary married in a private, outdoor, sunset ceremony on the island of Kauai. “I had visualized a sunset ceremony in a tropical location, and the vision came to be,” Uli observes. And since they had decided to elope, they had two celebrations after their nuptials—one with Uli’s family in her native Germany and the other in the Midwest with Gary’s relatives.
Today, with three years of marriage behind her, Uli happily encourages people over the age of 40 to turn to the help of a professional in their search for love. In fact, she even founded her own Atlanta-based upscale matchmaking service, Sterling Introductions, which also has an office in New York City. “When it comes to our personal lives, we assume that things are going to happen by magic,” she observes. “But you have to be proactive, and using a professional matchmaking service greatly enhances your chances of meeting the right person. I see myself as a success story for professional matchmaking—I know firsthand that it works.”
Uli also offers some useful words of advice. “It’s easy to say that all the good ones are taken or there are no good people out there, but there really are good people out there,” she concludes. “You have to set realistic expectations—nobody’s perfect. And you just have to stay positive and keep an open mind. Know that it can happen. There are plenty of success stories—mine included."
Perri and Gary Higbie: And We Danced
When Gary Higbie walked into Cowboys in Kennesaw in July of 2000, the last thing on his mind was finding love. In fact, he was meeting a friend to get the name of a divorce lawyer because his 16-year marriage was ending. But not long after he arrived, as couples line danced around him, a charming woman with an Australian accent who was wearing a cowboy hat and boots approached him and struck up a conversation. “It was a tremendous boost to my somewhat wounded self-esteem to be approached by such a beautiful woman,” he recalls. “However, it was the ensuing conversation that evening that made her irresistible—I found her absolutely fascinating.”
The beautiful woman, Perri, was equally entranced by the man she saw walk in the door more than an hour before she gathered the courage to speak to him. “He had a light blue shirt on with eyes to match,” she says. “In a crowd of 3,000 people, he really stood out to me.” And while it was against the somewhat shy 40-something’s nature to go up and talk to a stranger, Perri, who had ended her own 16-year marriage five years prior to that night, was encouraged by her friend, who plotted out a strategy to help her “accidentally” start up that all-important conversation. After some casual chitchat, the two shared a couple of spins around the dance floor and ultimately decided to head out for a cup of coffee so they could continue getting to know each other. At the end of the evening, Gary wrote Perri’s number on the back of a Waffle House ticket and promised to call—even though he had not even thought about entering the dating scene again. “I honestly had not even reached that point of consideration when we met, as I was still reflecting backwards on my life,” he notes. “It was Perri who, in a matter of hours, turned me around mentally and got me looking to the future.”
While Perri was not looking for a husband that pivotal evening at Cowboys, she did feel that she would walk down the aisle again at some point in her life. “I knew that one day I would want to be married again. I was not scared of marriage,” she observes. And after three years of dating Perri exclusively, neither was Gary. During a trip to St. Martin, he got down on one knee and presented his very surprised beloved with the Waffle House ticket he had written her name and number on the night they met. “He told me I could change the last name on the ticket and keep the phone number,” she muses.
In July 2005, Gary and Perri were married in the groom’s childhood church, surrounded by 150 family members and friends. “That day, I knew that I would be at peace for the rest of my life,” Perri says. “I had found my true companion. And we get happier and happier each year that we’re together.”
Having found love after the age of 40, Gary and Perri want others to know that they can experience the same thing if they’re open to it. “It baffles me a bit [that people believe it’s difficult to find love after 40]. Men, for the first time in our lives, realize that we can’t and don’t want to live without the love and companionship of a ‘good woman.’ Our defenses melt away as we realize that life is about a lot more than sex and self-indulgence,” Gary concludes with a quip. “We are sitting ducks!” Perri adds, “You just have to give love a chance. Don’t carry the past into a new relationship because everybody is different. And there are wonderful partners out there. If you’re open, you can find someone who makes you feel good about yourself and brings out the best in you. I did. In fact, I hit the husband lottery.”
Harry and Earsilene Fulton: Heaven Sent
It was just a normal day at the office for Earsilene Fulton, a loan officer at a local credit union. She was going about her business when Harry, a member of the credit union, came in to get some information about purchasing a Winnebago for his retirement. They had a nice, friendly conversation, during which they each discovered that the other was divorced and that they both had a grown son and daughter. And at the end of their meeting, Harry suggested that they get together one day for lunch or dinner to continue their chat, leaving his phone number on her desk.
“He was very tall, handsome and approachable,” Earsilene recalls of their first encounter six years ago. “I was open to finding love, but I wasn’t actively pursuing it. So a couple of weeks went by, and I didn’t respond or call him. He eventually came back into the office and told me that he wasn’t all talk—he really did want to see me outside of the office. He wanted me to know that he was for real.”
In fact, Harry, who was 47 at the time, was so serious about getting to know 45-year-old Earsilene that he stood in her office and gave her what she fondly calls his “resume.” “He told me what kind of guy he was,” she says. “He told me that he was nice, that knew how to have fun and that he was a Christian. And those were all of the qualities that I knew I really wanted in a mate.” So, after asking around the credit union to find out a little more about the charming gentleman who was taken in by her eyes from the moment they met, Earsilene finally decided to give him a call.
After their first dinner date, the couple began seeing each other regularly. They found all kinds of exciting and fun things to do throughout Atlanta, and Harry even introduced Earsilene to his favorite hobby—restoring classic cars. “I realized that he was very humorous and that he was a man of integrity and character. I also found that we could have fun together,” she notes. “Harry had a broad spectrum of things that he enjoyed doing, and he’s more spontaneous than I am, which I really liked. So he would call me up and convince me to go out at the last minute—and we always had fun. We had a lot in common, but I also liked our differences.” Of course, one commonality that was especially appealing and important to Earsilene was Harry’s strong faith. “We started attending church together,” she continues. “And that meant a lot to me because I wanted us to worship together.”
A year after they began dating, with the blessings of her two children, Harry proposed to Earsilene on a joyful, family-filled Thanksgiving weekend. And one year later, the couple became husband and wife. Their children served as their attendants as they stood before God and exchanged vows during a small and intimate ceremony. And standing there in church as newlyweds, Harry and Earsilene truly believed that there was a bit of divine intervention in the turn of events that brought them to that wonderful place.
“Love really does find you when you’re not looking for it. You just have to be open-minded because it can come to you in different ways than you thought it would. And you have to really take the time to get to know someone and enjoy that journey,” Earsilene observes. “Harry says he always knew that I was supposed to be his wife—that he wanted to spend his life with me. And I do believe that God had something to do with that. The way it all came about—I do think that God was involved. Finding love after 40 is not impossible. It can happen so unexpectedly, but it can happen.”