Most of us who grew up after the 60’s free love era grew up as part of the “Hook up Culture,” which basically assumes that if you have two consenting adults that want to hook up, they will, and then that relationship will last for as long as it remains fun, otherwise one or the other will move on to the next until one day by some stroke of good fortune s/he may find “the one”that inspires him/her to give up the game and settle down.

A funny thing happens, however, after 35– and to be honest I wasn’t prepared for some of the challenges of dating once we hit this age.  Sure, I knew I’d continue to come across players, who have zero interest in settling down– ever, or ones who just want something casual because they have just come out of a bad break-up/divorce.  The problem, however, is that even if that is all you want, while there may be countless opportunities for booty calls or friends with benefits after 35, sadly not everyone has aged so well or taken care of themselves, so that one of the biggest challenges is not that there’s a lack of quantity, but rather a lack of quality people.  You’ve surely heard the term that all the good ones are taken?  Well, they are not all taken, but Flannery O’Connor had it right when she said a good man is hard to find…

Now, be prepared for a great divide between those that just want to have some fun first, and those that are dating on a mission.  Lots of guys complain about girls that are on a tight timeframe because their biological clocks are ticking, and I myself have experienced similar pressures from guys that want out of the game, so it does go both ways.  Those that are dating with a purpose have these checklists, and it is no fun to play 20 questions with them because you feel like you are on a job interview.  Honestly, that is not the best way to win someone over, but to each his own.  If you find yourselves in these two different camps, just live and let live.

Out there you will also find lots of people that clearly want to be cared for– again this applies to both guys and girls, and it applies at all ages.  Believe it or not, not only are there female “gold diggers,” but there are plenty of younger guys that want to be “kept men” and also older guys (watch out for that over 50 crowd) that are looking for a nurse with a purse.

I suppose since the beginning of time there have always been those that tried to marry up, but never before has this become more attainable than in the digital age.  As opposed to just meeting people organically through work or in your community, where you are most likely to be from the same socio-economic class, online dating has expanded the pool of suitors, and sometimes this may be good, but sometimes, maybe not so much so be careful.  The fact is there is a lot to be said for dating your equal– someone who shares the same values, has a similar education and background, etc.  These people are simply more likely to “get” you intellectually and emotionally.

Sadly, more and more, I feel like Elaine in that classic Seinfeld episode, where they are discontinuing her preferred form of birth control– the sponge.  For those of you that haven’t seen it or don’t remember it, I highly recommend tracking this one down– it brings tears of laughter to my eyes every time I watch it, especially after she has bought up the entire remaining supply of the sponge, and then she interviews each and every potential male suitor– but now she is much, much more discriminatory because there is a limited supply of sponges, so these men must prove that they are indeed sponge-worthy.  As funny as this was in my 20s, it is now in my 40s that I truly feel her pain.

Having said all of this, I have to say that despite all the challenges of dating after age 35, it can be a lot of fun if you proceed with caution and have patience.  By this point, you should know who you are and what you need in life to be happy.  At this point it should be clear what matters to you, and where you are not willing to make compromises.    It’s also much easier to assess what someone else has done with their life and where they are likely to be heading in the future.  We are much more able to detect b.s. quickly, and as we become older and wiser, we should become less tolerant of fools and the ridiculous situations that they create.

In the end, if you are going to date after age 35, you may want to think of yourself as a Bentley dealership.  Why?  Well, because they are not in the business of selling 50 cars a day, nor are they about to lower their prices to appeal to the masses.  No– they are holding out for the right customers, and so should you.   You may have to exercise a lot of patience while sorting through a ton of users, losers and posers, but don’t negotiate on your price of admission for letting someone into your life.

By Regina A. DeMeo, Esq.