Dating in middle-age... what are the red flags to watch out for?

What’s dating in your 40s and upwards like in modern day Ireland? ADRIENNE ACTON reflects
Dating in middle-age... what are the red flags to watch out for?

Today’s issues for a middle aged woman looking for a significant other are more complex, says Adrienne Acton.

THE saying goes that when you are over 40 years of age you are more likely to get knocked down by a bus than get married.

It is a very believable fact and a fair assessment of the situation. However, previously the thinking behind this nugget of wisdom was the belief that women over the age of 40 were unmarryable because they were too old to produce the heir to the landholdings, they were far from a spring chicken, and were generally considered stale, out of date, a spinster best for the bin.

Oh how times have changed. A woman over 40 no longer needs to resign herself to marrying the bachelor farmer living 4 miles up a vertical hill with personal hygiene issues and only one pair of trousers in order to have a ring on the finger, and the days of being looked at as the local old maid who will surely look after all the married women’s ailing parents seeing as she has nothing better to do are consigned to the 50’s and good riddance.


Today’s issues for a middle aged woman looking for a significant other are more complex, and a minefield for the hopeful newcomer on the scene.

Firstly you have to be aware of what are being dubbed ‘red flags’. These are the behaviours of your new partner that give you an unsettling feeling. According to psychotherapists these red flags will give you pause for thought, you may not even know why you suddenly feel uncomfortable but the signs are there that something isn’t siting right with you. Now, to be clear, this is not the occasion that he forgets your 3 month anniversary or that he doesn’t really like your beef stroganoff. Those are just simple annoyances and not red flags.

A red flag to look out for is if they show a need to rush the new relationship. They go from first and second date to talking about love and moving in together, how you make their life complete and they can’t image not having you in their lives. RED FLAG.

If you met them on line, but what they look like, what they say, and their general demeanour and personality is completely different to the virtual persona, this is a red flag. After all, if they lie about who they are, what else are they lying about?

If they show signs of not liking your friends, and guilt you into spending less time with friends and family this is a sign of controlling behaviour, another red flag.

Unfortunately the list goes on. If he or she is rude to people around you. If they are secretive about their own friends or want to look through your phone using whatever excuse they need to gain access. If they start to ‘advise’ you that your dress is too short, or you’re wearing too much makeup or make nasty comments about other women or men in the vicinity. They will keep in constant contact with you and get annoyed when you don’t respond immediately. They don’t really listen to you. They blame the failure all of their past relationships on the other person, it’s never their fault.

Irrelevant of gender, red flags are there and should be an immediate deal breaker but, as with most insidious behaviours they can sometimes be hard to spot, and easy to ignore. Listen carefully to your gut and your sixth sense. Most warning signs will be felt physiologically first.


Another obstacle for the hopeful dater is known as ‘gas-lighting’.

This is the process by which someone makes you question yourself, what you said, and what you know to be true. Again it is an insidious behaviour that can be easily waved away initially as just a misunderstanding. For example, they will deny saying something. They will tell you that you got it wrong, again. They will tell you that you’re so forgetful and argumentative and should stop talking before you embarrass yourself. The list of gas-lighting behaviours goes on.

Dating in later years is completely different to what dating was when you were young and carefree. Whether coming out of a long term relationship, or dipping your toe into the dating scene after the long covid hiatus, it is wise to be a little cautious and listen to your gut. 

A middle aged woman is a force to be reckoned with, she is experienced and worldly, she may have gone through a divorce or the death of a spouse which may render her a little vulnerable, and so the fun of a few nights out might be exactly what the doctor ordered to feel attractive and desirable again.

If having a significant other is something you would like then consider taking it slowly, remember your worth, what your own personal red flags and red lines are, and never settle for anything that makes you feel uncomfortable.

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