How Does Your Age Affect Your Dating Life as a Woman?

August 27, 2023
▪ 7 mins read

Are you hating your dating life? With these five tips for meeting men in real life, you can master the meet cute and transform your dating life into your favorite romcom.

So how does your age impact your dating life as a woman?  

One of the "joys" of being a woman is being subject to more social scrutiny about our age: Just think about being "filtered out" by potential matches on dating apps once you’ve passed the milestone ages of 30, 40, 50... or the comment:

"You look great for your age."

After 15 years of being a dating coach for women I also know from first hand experience that as women we have a unique ability to defy what’s expected of us at different life stages. That some women find the "sexual prime" of their 20s dogged with insecurity and feeling constantly sexualised, whilst others have a "dating renaissance" much later in life.

There are of course times in dating when our age matters: Many women feel like they lost a precious 2 years of fertility to the pandemic. However, rather than buy into the fear we often feel around ageing as a woman, ("I must find a partner before I’m...,") I thought it would be better to ask my female subscribers what their real life experiences were of how their age affected their dating life.

What kind of partners were the women seeking? 

Just over half (54.8%) of respondents were women aged 36-50, however I received responses from women from their early 20s to 65+. Of these women 96.1% of them were single. 84% of women surveyed were interested in a long term relationship. In terms of what they were looking for in a partner it was an even split between wanting to date men who are the same age or younger, and the same age or older.   

How were the women surveyed meeting men?

Over half of the women surveyed were meeting men online.  

However, about 20% of women were also tuning into real life venues like bars, clubs, coffee shops and fitness centres. Shockingly, a huge 43% of women said they weren’t meeting any men at all.   

If you find yourself in this category, and the idea of meeting any suitable men feels a long way off consider the following options (notice I’m not focusing on "where" to meet men, they’re EVERYWHERE, but "how" to interact with them more if you can’t see them at the moment). 

  • IRL meetings are advantageous, particularly if you’re worried you’re just falling outside of a cut off age on dating apps. People are more likely to set their age filters to round(ish) numbers meaning crossing over 35, 40, 45 etc can see your matches drop off. If you met in real life and hit it off, people are less likely to have a set cut off point for age. Plus you don’t have to go into the morally dubious (but understandable) territory of reducing your age on dating apps.  
  • If you go to a busy bar, co-working space, festival, or gym and consistently see NO-ONE you’re interested in talking to, this says more about how you’re appraising people than their availability. The "ideal" (and not always achievable) mindset for meeting men is one of feeling attractive, open, excited for what’s next. This one may be more of a case of changing your mental state rather than there being literally "no good guys left."  
  • Keep an open mind. Your radar for who you will click with may not be as finely tuned as you think it is. Remember your type is just a hypothetical until you’re in a relationship with someone. Go on dates outside of your normal type (and even age range). Go for the purpose of having fun, seeing how they show up for you, and exploring. This will do more for your mental state around dating than "next-ing" every man you meet too quickly.  
  • Consistently change your routine. I’ve seen many examples of it suddenly clicking for a woman when they’ve moved house, or changed country. Don’t worry about fishing out your passport though, in my opinion this is more about being able to bring fresh eyes to dating than it is about changing location. Is there a way you can go to more new places and spaces? 

How do they feel age has impacted their dating life? 

age dating lif e

A huge 76.5% of women felt their age impacted their dating life.

On the positive side over 80% of women felt they knew themselves, and what kind of relationship they wanted, better. Over half said they were more comfortable in their own skin, and were able to easily communicate their preferences.

As for the negatives the largest response at 70.6% was that it was hard to meet new people; and over half said they experienced single shaming with people finding it hard to understand "why" they were still single. 

I also asked the women what they found challenging at dating at their life stage, and here’s what they said: 

"I am 51 and I look and feel younger than I am (I have got good genes I suspect). Men roughly my age look for younger women, so I don't get tinder matches with those men. In real life it would be easier I think."
"I'm a 35yr old virgin, and in a world where men expect to have sex on the 2nd date - it poses an issue. It hasn't been a barrier for men, as I've dated men who are aware I'm a virgin and it's never been a problem - they've actually found it attractive."
"Men my age seem (look and act) old. I'm a widow, and they seem decades older than my husband. I'm not sexually attracted to them AT ALL. and that's very important to me. I also feel that the fact that I have to put my age on a dating profile doesn't reflect the sexy, fun, funny, youthful woman I am!"
"Being an older women men think you're desperate to have kids or getting too old for them to have kids with. I have my egg frozen, so not such an issue but I feel I'm viewed as that."
"People have a lot of jaded lives/ unpackaged trauma and baggage re money/ exes/ children. Just a lack of hope / optimism in people. A kind of hopelessness generally due to past experiences.
"Lack of opportunity to meet new people in real life - I find apps a challenging way to get to know someone and also put myself across authentically, so often end up dating unsuitable matches." 

As a dating coach I really recognise the need to be able to cultivate new dating options: If you have choice, you can have higher standards, and it just enables you to feel better about dating.  

Dating apps have their place but I do think learning to meet men IRL is a no brainer. To help give you the skills to do this, I created my Secret Place workshop. Secret Place is a unique coaching experience where me and my coaching team take women out to meet men IRL. 

I’ve had women from their early 20s, to their late 50s, attending.

These events run every month in London. By attending you will begin to learn my practical techniques to recognise more opportunities and to start to meet men IRL. It’s also very fun, and very supportive. If you’re even slightly curious you can find full details here

What do you wish people knew about your experiences of dating at this time in your life?

Whilst some of the women’s stories confirmed others' worst fears... 

"Choose in your twenties and choose wisely...."
"It is sometimes hard even for women under (or close to) 30 to find partners. Also, a lot of quality men of my age are often already in relationships."
"How challenging it is. Age feels like an extra "thing" that puts me at a disadvantage."
"Just how difficult / soul destroying it can be. I'm not here to provide entertainment/amusing anecdotes to already coupled up friends - that's not fun for me!"

Other women felt totally differently about dating at their life stage:

"There's more to me than my age, I'm the most ready I've ever been to be a good partner."
"I'm happier being single now than I ever was in my 20s and 30s chasing the wrong relationships."
"It is worth it!"
"That a woman in her 50s is at the top of her game, personally and professionally."
"I learned so much more about myself and dating preferences & the type of partner I’m looking for than ever did before. I also feel more confident about myself and my sexuality."

The women who sent these responses were of similar ages, but had a profoundly different outlook on dating. 

Dating is like this: It can be the worst of times, or the best of times, and a lot of that comes down to your outlook. 

Now I’m not saying it’s easy to remain proactive, and positive, in fact it’s really hard. Rather than there not being enough men, maintaining your resilience, self esteem and motivation to stay the course if where the real challenge is.

I also believe there are legitimate challenges faced at different life stages; but there are also benefits. Most importantly it’s more than possible to meet someone. Good relationships start everyday.

There’s no reason why you can’t be one of them (if of course, that’s what you want)!  

Hayley Quinn smiling profile
About the author

Hayley Quinn is a leading dating and relationship coach, with 3 million views of her TEDx talk and 18 million YouTube views. She is spokesperson for Match, a columnist for Cosmopolitan, a regular contributor to international media, and has been published by Harper Collins (“The Last First Date”, 2022) and Simon & Schuster (“Do This, Not That: Dating”, 2023).

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