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Looking for Love After 40? Learn the 3 Principles of Dating Like a Grownup


When women reach a “certain age” and also happen to be single, it’s all too easy for them to believe they should just accept that they will never find love. It can feel like the world is telling them they’ve missed their chance and should focus on other areas of their life instead. Bobbi Palmer, the relationship expert behind Date Like a Grownup, is not only determined to change that belief — she’s proof herself that’s possible to find a loving relationship later in life. 

As she entered into her 40s, Bobbi was more than happy to be successful in her career as an adult educator. Her tasks ranged from training members of Navy on how to use satellites to helping car dealerships sell their automobiles better. She didn’t think about her dating life or how that could factor into her happiness. That is, until she met her now-husband and tied the knot for the first time at 47. “When I got married, it changed my life so positively,” Bobbi tells, “I just realized this is the next thing that I have to teach.” 

Bobbi Palmer and her husband

Bobbi and her husband Larry on their honeymoon. (Photo courtesy of Bobbi Palmer)

She admits the subject is also a lot more fun, though not without its challenges. Her clients are often reluctant to follow her advice. Some even ask her to simply create an online dating profile for them — selecting the best pictures and descriptions to entice suitors. But, as Bobbi explains to us, there’s so much more to finding a good relationship than that. By reflecting on her own experience, she developed what she calls the 3 Principles of Dating Like a Grownup. Keep reading to learn more about each one.

1. Balance your head and your heart.

“We tend to approach dating, romance, and relationships with one or the other,” Bobbi says. Women might go all in with their heart and become blind to warning signs and real information being given to them. “Women in their 60s are still dating like their 18-year-olds,” she explains. These women are looking for that “tingle” or spark rather than aspects that actually make for a good partner. 

On the other hand, they might go into a situation with their head and talk themselves out of potential romance before it even has a chance to begin. Women like this might not realize they are basing their mindset on the fear of being hurt or rejected. They’re putting the burden on men they meet to prove they’re worthy of earning their trust instead of opening up and discovering that for themselves. 

That’s what a balance of these two areas are so important before stepping back into the dating pool. You want to go in with both: The heart being your feminine, vulnerable, and open side and the head stay, learn, and look for evidence to back up your feelings. 

2. Show kindness yourself and the men you meet.

“Women raised in the 1950s weren’t raised to tell ourselves, ‘I’m great, I’m worthy,’” Bobbi explains. “We were raised to be humble and quiet, make others happy.” That’s why it can be especially difficult for that generation of women to really appreciate and love themselves. Of course, when you’re unkind to yourself, it shows up as insecurity when you interact with others. Bobbi encourages women to not focus on their mistakes or how long they may have gone without a relationship. “When they make the decision to go out and date again, they should think of the clock restarting.” This involves telling yourself, “I’m going to learn, I’m going to try new things, I’m going to be courageous, I’m going to look at different types of men, and look forward.” 

Being kind to the men that you meet means not going into each date with the same baggage you have from your previous negative experiences. For instance, if your last relationship ended with you being cheated on, you can’t go back into dating thinking along the lines of, “all men are pigs, they just want younger women, they’re all shallow.” That’s selling men short of their different personalities and emotions, ultimately confining yourself behind a wall. Kindness for men doesn’t mean settling, though — it’s about viewing both yourself and your dates with compassion. Bobbi also recommends adjusting what she calls your “man ticker,” or the list of requirements you have laid out in your mind for the “perfect man.” As a grown up, you should be looking for grown up qualities that you might not have placed as much importance on in your younger days.

Bobbi Palmer and her husband

Bobbi and Larry celebrating their 12 year anniversary in Venice, Italy. (Photo courtesy of Bobbi Palmer)

3. Take responsibility for your actions and outcomes.

Although you shouldn’t focus on your mistakes from the past, you do need to acknowledge them. Accepting that you had control of the decisions that led you to having problems in the past means you can now use that control to make better decisions in the future. Bobbi puts it more succinctly: “Unlearn the old sh*t, learn the new sh*t.” That also means you can’t think of yourself as a victim. “I did it, I went through it myself,” Bobbi admits, “It’s very rare that there’s a woman that comes to me where I haven’t made the same stupid mistakes.” Before dating coaches and relationship experts like herself were more common, Bobbi worked with a therapist to unlearn the ways she had been holding herself back. That’s part of what makes her guidance so helpful: She has zero judgement. 

Learning these principles isn’t about women changing who they are — in fact, it’s the opposite. Bobbi wants women to embrace their true selves. “Think about how you are with your girlfriends versus on a date,” she explains. Chances are, you feel more comfortable letting your personality shine when with friends than when out with a man. Obviously, dates are a bit more nerve racking, but you shouldn’t let that hold you back from being the best, most honest version of yourself. 

One important first step Bobbi advises is giving yourself permission to brag about yourself, but not as a mother or employee or friend — as a Woman (capital W and all). Check out Bobbi’s website, Date Like a Grownup, for more tips and information that can help you find the love you deserve no matter what your age might be.

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