Finding love is challenging at any age, but there are additional hurdles to get over when you're over 40. Past experiences can leave you jaded and guarded; the fear of being hurt again causes you to put a wall up to protect yourself yourself.
Or, the fear of being alone can make you more susceptible to getting into unhealthy situations where you give too much and get taken advantage of. Throw in all the emotional baggage that everyone is carrying around, and that creates even more challenges and complications to wade through.
In spite of all the hurdles, it's still possible to find love later in life. Here are 5 things that will help you to build a healthy, lasting relationship.
1. A clear set of non-negotiables.
In the early stages of a relationship, it's easy to overlook warning signs that things aren't going to work out. The heady emotions of being in love can cloud your judgment and prevent you from seeing clearly. Or, in your eagerness for things to work out, you may find yourself noticing areas of concern, but you dismiss them and tell yourself they're not a big deal. Having a clear set of non-negotiables or deal-breakers (i.e. your "must have" and "can't have" qualities in a relationship) gives you something concrete to reference when assessing a relationship's potential. This ensures you don't waste time investing or getting emotionally attached when there's no reasonable hope of things working out.
If you lack self-respect, you run a much greater risk of getting stuck in a situation where you're tolerating inconsiderate or inappropriate behaviour. You may even find yourself making excuses for the behaviour and trying to justify why it's really not that bad, when clearly it's not acceptable. Self-respect is essential in a relationship, as it enables you to set appropriate standards for how you expect to be treated, and healthy boundaries regarding what you will/won't put up with.
3. Other friendships and connections.
It's important to recognize that one person will never be able to meet all your needs. By having other relationships in your life, you're able to have more realistic expectations of your partner, since you're not expecting him/her to provide you with everything you need. You can enjoy the strengths your partner brings to the table and the dynamic the two of you share, while drawing on other friendships for other qualities that you value. Having other connections in your life also enriches you, and makes you a healthier and more well-rounded person, so you have even more to bring to your relationship.
4. Problem-solving skills.
Minor issues can escalate, to the point of becoming insurmountable, if you lack the skills to deal with them effectively. On the flip side, the ability to solve problems means you'll be able to overcome the challenges, disagreements, and clashes that will inevitably come up over time. If you're willing to be flexible and creative, and you sincerely wish to find win-win solutions that meet the needs of all parties involved, you'll find that many issues can indeed be resolved.
5. The ability to forgive.
In every relationship, there are times when you will hurt each other; sometimes deeply. Without the ability to forgive, you'll never be able to get past these painful events. Eventually, anger, bitterness, resentment, and even hatred can develop in your heart towards your partner. Over time, these feelings and attitudes will eat away at you and the relationship. It's easy to tell yourself that you have the ability to forgive, but you need to be honest with yourself — some people really struggle with this and have a hard time letting things go.
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