Dating In Midlife?

Tips and tactics from Carleen Brice, author of Age Ain’t Nothing But a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife.

By Chelsea Kaplan

ondering how to date now that you’re past your 20s and 30s? Listen to these insights from Carleen Brice, editor of Age Ain’t Nothing But a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife, a collection of essays on midlife by 45 African-American women writers. Here, she shares how for today’s black woman, midlife isn’t her grandmother’s “change of life”—and much more.

How do you think most African-American women feel about midlife dating right now?

Like everybody, African-American women vary in their
Be open to the idea that love comes in all kinds of packages.
feelings and thinking. If there’s anything close to prevailing philosophy, I’d say that as African-American women get older they become more independent and therefore more willing to give men some space.

What do women expect from a relationship these days?

They’re more realistic about what they can expect from a romantic relationship. These women are less inclined to see a man as perfect in order to love him, and they also know that they don’t need to spend so much time with him to believe he cares for them. A friend of mine who is a writer in her 60s said that she thinks younger women often don’t take the time to get to know themselves and love themselves, and that’s why they become insecure, needy, and at times overly possessive of their mates.

How do you think women at this stage feel about men and committed relationships?

Let me give you a good example:
These women don’t need a man to be perfect in order to love him.
One woman told me that she had always wanted a partner, but when she was younger she didn’t put a lot of effort into pursuing it. Now in her 40s she’s treating getting a mate with the same focus as she would put toward looking for a job. Her main criterion in a man is someone who wants to be in a relationship. I think when we’re younger, we tend to believe we can change men and make them into who we want them to be. As we get older, we know that we need to look for a man who already has what we want, because we ain’t going to change him!

What’s the best advice you can offer to midlife African-American women who are about to re-enter the dating pool?

Don’t base your desires for a new man on the one you had before. In other words, if you’re divorced, don’t look for the opposite of your ex-husband. If you’re widowed and your late husband was a wonderful man, don’t look for his duplicate. Think about what you want in a mate without any preconceived notions. Start from scratch. More and more African-American women of all ages are becoming more willing to consider a man who falls somewhat outside of what they thought they had to have—younger men, older men, men of different races. Midlife women, too, should be flexible about who they date and open to the idea that love comes in all kinds of packages.

It’s great that as we get a little older we know that a man doesn’t have to be perfect to be The One. Be realistic, but don’t believe you have to “settle” for less because you are older. Wild, romantic love can — and does — come to those in midlife, too!

Chelsea Kaplan is deputy editor of and regularly appears as a guest on XM Radio’s “Broad Minded.” Her blog, “I’m Somebody’s Mother?” can be found at
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