The 4 Most Sensitive Topics to Navigate for the 40+ Dater
As you get older, issues like finances, fertility, children, and sex become much more complicated. Understanding and working through the sensitive issues that come from being in this mid-season of our life is important for protecting you and your family’s future. For example, let’s say you’re dating a much younger man and you’re about ready to be an empty nester. Does he want to have kids in the future? Would you be willing to have a new baby at our age, or is it even possible? Dollars to donuts, it’s safe to say that anyone who’s raised children that are about to leave the nest egg probably does not want to go through changing diapers, traipsing with car seats through airports, etc. Conversely, that handsome 30-year-old you’re dating may just want to have children of his own. How finances are handled as a couple is also something that us 40+ should consider as protecting your finances for yourself and children is vital. As much as it’s unpleasant to deal with finances, you certainly don’t want to lose any of your hard-earned retirement money that you’ve plan to use for your future well being.
There are four topics that over 40+ should be aware of: (1) Sexual Health, (2) Financial Arrangements, (3) Cyber Swindling Through Dating Apps, and (4) Setting up House. For those daters who have, or who are dating someone who have children, get tips in the post, “The Brady Bunch Redux: Dating Tips if You or Your Partner Have Children).
Disclosing/Discussing Sexual Health: So, things are going very well and you’re starting to become more physically intimate. Stop! For your health, you must have a frank and honest discussion of each others’ sexual health. There’s a good chance that either or both of you may have an STD that the other partner should know about before having sex. Did you know that one in two sexually active persons have contracted an STI by age 25 years old? The main goal is to protect against giving/getting an STD, or worse, contract a serious illness like AIDS.
- How to Raise the Question: We all know that we’d rather have our teeth pulled out than having to ask our new love interest if he has any STDs. Yes, it feels like a “killjoy”, and is super uncomfortable and awkward. Remember, “it’s better safe than sorry”. So, take a deep breath and ask!!!
- Power Tip: Here’s an easy, non-threatening way that one gal used to raise the “STD question”. Having packed a bag and driven her zipcar to her boyfriend’s house, she greeted her boyfriend at the door, dropped her bag to the ground and said, “It’s clear that at some point soon we’re going to have sex. I don’t want to have sex with you until I tell you this…” In her case, she caught an STD from a prior boyfriend who did not tell her that he had an STD. Because she had gotten an STD from a past boyfriend who had not disclosed that he had an STD, she vowed to not let that happen to anyone else. Her courage and style in initiating this sensitive conversation allowed for an open and honest discussion in which her boyfriend thanked her and proceeded to talk about some of his “skeletons”. Another less dramatic way to initiate this conversation is to simply drop a condom (unused of course!) on the table while having dinner and say, “It’s clear that we will have sex soon. Before we do, I’d like to make sure that we are prepared for it. So, here’s a condom and I’m clear (or not clear) of any STDs. What about you? “.
- Benefits Of Being Forthright: Aside from the fact that you’ll be able to protect yourself should your partner have an STD, there are other benefits of having the “sexual disclosure” conversation. Talking about difficult things encourages the other person to open up and builds intimacy and closeness. Now, if your partner gets defensive and kicks you out, well you’ve avoided an STD and a guy not right for you; and you will have upheld your integrity.
- STDs is a Big Issue for the 40+: For most baby boomers and seniors, the thought that they may have an STD, or that they are immune from practicing safe sex is actually false. Recent studies indicate that the fastest rising age group for diagnosis of STDs is the 60+ with a 23% increase between 2014-2017. There is a preconceived notion that STDs are caught by high risk, nightclub, swinging 20 year olds. “Many people have a bias that STIs don’t occur in their socioeconomic group or their portion of the population, and so feel that’s really for other people,” explains Janet Priegler, M.D., director of UCLA’s Women’s Health Center. “You definitely will talk to individuals who feel that they could sort of look at a potential partner and figure out whether they might be at risk or not.“. The importance of taking STDs seriously and practicing “safe sex” is just as important for the 40+ as their children to whom they preach to. Go to this post for more information about sexual health information for the 40+.
****As much as this topic is scary and awkward, please don’t let your fear trump your integrity and health.****
Financial Issues: As 40+ers, we’ve probably have acquired more assets than our younger counterparts, and have other people (i.e. children) whom you need to consider from a financial perspective. Cocktail Chatter suggest the following tips in handling finances with your partner:
- Consult with Professionals: Protecting your assets is not a DIY project! You should consult the experts: accountants, lawyers, and other professionals who are trained in protecting and handling your money. There are many unscrupulous individuals who specifically prey on older singles. Read this post for a more indepth look into the use of data apps for scamming unsuspecting daters. You’ve worked hard for your nest egg, so keep it in the nest for your little chickadees!
- Be Careful of Signing any Legal Document: I don’t care how loving or handsome your man is. If he asks you to sign any documents such as Property Deeds, run from him as fast you can! You don’t want to accidentally sign your home to him.
- Splitting Costs: Nobody, even those with plenty of wealth, want to feel taken advantage of. As you become a “couple” and “move in together” it’s important to sit down and talk about: (i) how each of you feel about sharing costs such as food, housing, etc., (ii) what’s a reasonable budget; (iii) what’s shared costs and what will be separate costs; and (iv) each of your personal financial situation. Talking about money is equally as difficult as sexual issues. But, it’s another one that needs to be addressed upfront so that each party has a clear understanding. Once you’ve determined how to handle expenses, it’s a good idea to create a joint account that each will contribute for shared costs, while also maintaining a separate account for non-couple expenses.
- Financial Disparity: In all likelihood, your partner and you may have a huge disparity in income. In past times, men traditionally made more money than women and paid for most of the couple’s expenses. But, in this 21st century, there are some relationships where the women make more money than her partner. This usually happens in a May-December romance which involves an older woman and a younger man. When a man pays for a women’s expenses, no one really bats a lash and the women’s ego is not hurt. However, the complete opposite happens where the female is the breadwinner. Due to societal and cultural learning, men often have a difficult time when his female partner earns more money. If the higher earning income female offers (or pays) to pay a bill, it’s not unusual for her male partner have his manhood and ego hurt. He might not say it out loud; but, maybe his mood has shifted or that’s a hint of tension, awkwardness, and resentment in the air. As the gender who customarily cares about one’s feelings, most women will tread lightly because they do not want their boyfriend to feel “less than man” in these situations.
The “financial disparity” issue can rear its ugly head in different ways. Let’ say that you’re a successful well compensated professional who enjoys de-stressing at a nice hotel for a weekend. Realistically, that 5-star hotel is not in your younger beau’s startup income. Should you settle for Motel 6 when you really want the Four Seasons? Girlfriend, NO!!! You should have your cake and eat it all! In this case, be honest and frank with your boyfriend. Tell him, “I would like to stay at the Four Seasons because I’ve earned it and it’s my way of de-stressing. I respect that you may not agree with me, and would therefore not feel right in paying for such a nice hotel. Therefore, I’m comfortable with paying for the hotel bill so long as you contribute any amount that you would have felt comfortable paying for. Would that work for you?” Hopefully, by showing respect for both of your feelings and saying it in a tactful and straightforward way, your boyfriend will happily accompany you to the Four Seasons. If he isn’t, well, you know what Cocktail Chatter says, “Next!”.
No doubt, a financial disparity plays a major role in the dynamics of a couple. Often, the person who pays for most of a couples’ costs has the “power” in the relationship; subconsciously (and hopefully not consciously!), that person tends to make decisions for the couple. On the other hand, the person who has less financial power feels bad or guilty, and will accept a more inferior position. Usually, that person will contribute to the relationship in the form of equity such as cleaning the house or cooking. This type of relationship is very similar to business relationships where one partner provides the funding while the other provides the “sweat equity”. What’s important to note is that both parties bring value of the relationship regardless of who pays the bills. The real value that each party brings is not money or labor, but “who they are”. Each of us bring unique perspective, interests, and experiences. So, perhaps the “poorer” partner may be a starving artist, who introduces her partner to different “richer” experiences like the arts and cultures. Wouldn’t you say that in this case the higher income partner has enriched his life and benefitted from his mate’s love of the arts?
The financial disparity issue is like the proverbial “Elephant in the Room”. It’s definitely there and the air is cleared only if it is acknowledged and deal with it. The need to address this issue is even more necessary where the women in the relationship makes more money than her male counterpart. Although it’s scary and uncomfortable to have this conversation, it’s essential if we want to reach a higher level of intimacy. In order to achieve a healthy relationship, both partners must feel free to be vulnerable and to discuss sensitive, difficult conversations. If your partner doesn’t want to have this conversation or they are dismissive, then you know that this person is not right for you. You deserve and need a man who is self-aware and willing to make it work with you.
Cyber Swindlers Defrauding Older Daters: One of the fastest growing cyber crimes are those committed on unsuspecting daters by swindlers who steal real people’s images and to create fictitious profiles on dating sites like Match.com. This practice is a form of “catfishing” that focuses mainly on getting money as opposed to some catfishers who may pretend to be someone else for purposes of attracting dates. According to the FBI Internet Crime Center, victims in the U.S. lost nearly $120 Million to these “romance scams” in the first six months of 2016. In 2015, nearly $209 Million was loss; this figure exceeded most of the other internet crimes tracked by the Center. To understand the scope of the amount of cyber swindling through dating apps, and to learn how to protect yourself, go to the post, “Cyber Swindling in the Digital World: Learn to Protect Yourself!!!”.
Setting Up House: Doesn’t it sound so cute…setting up home! Yes, it was quite a thrill and oh, so exciting “moving in” with your boyfriend(s) in your 20s. It meant that your relationship moved up another notch; you’re no longer the gf with the key with your personal belonging scattered in two places. Heck, our biggest worries were “is he going to put the toilet lid down?”, “does he leave toothpaste all over the sink?”, or the biggie “how can we hide our stuff when the boyfriend’s mom unexpectedly wants to visit?”. Fast forward to our 40s…”moving in” just doesn’t have that quaint almost naughty feel of moving in together did when we were younger. At our age, we may have bought our own home. We may have children living at home, or young aging parent may have moved in. On the other hand, your beau may also have his own place, with his own kids (and lest we forget, his dear old parents!) living there. Or maybe, he has the ultimate bachelor pad with the leather seats, sound system and disco lights! Who moves? How do you “set up house” to accommodate all these changes in your life? Not to despair…there are a number of options for you to consider.
Before packing up your U-Haul van, consider these options. Maybe you can keep separate homes with the caveat that each of you will trade off a couple of days/nights together at each other’s home (hopefully when the children are with your ex!). This may be ideal because it requires the least amount of emotional and logistical disruption to you and your children. This type of arrangement especially makes sense if you have children whose family unit may have already been disrupted by divorce. No U-Haul or moving fees, and let’s face it…at our age, we’ve become more set in our ways in how we live. What’s that saying, “You can’t teach an old dog, new tricks”?! This option also minimizes financial issues and logistics. You and your partner each pay for your home’s mortgage and create a joint account for couple expenses.
Another unexpected benefit is that having separate homes that require “visiting” during the week helps keep the spice in your love life! Ask Gwyneth Paltrow and her new husband Brad Falchuk…they swear that their relationship works because they live separately.
Alternatively, if your situation is not nearly as complicated, i.e. no children and no purchased homes, you can turn the clock back 20+ years and “move in together”. This allows you to begin a new chapter in your relationship and a fresh start without reminders of past loves and relationships. Besides, there’s no better feeling than coming home after a tough day at work to see your love one! And by now, he’s probably learned to put the toilet seat down, doesn’t leave toothpaste on the sink, and you’re much too old to worry about hiding your “sinful existence” from his mom! Remember how our parents thought “moving in” was so scandalous?! Huh, now it’s only those darn kids of yours (or his) who you need to answer too!!!
Whether you elect to have two households or move into a whole new one, it’s a great sign that your relationship has progressed to this point. Congratulations, you’re now an official couple!!!
****Cocktail Chatterers, did you find this post helpful? Any other tips to add?****
Let us know by commenting below!!!