It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man or woman reaching their forties must be in want of a life partner – and as soon as possible. Jane Austen may not have worded it quite like that, but her novels have certainly contributed to the widely held belief that being single later in life is a terrifying prospect. But could there be a benefit of holding it off?  Of mature, free and single dating?

As young as our twenties, we feel the pressure to begin thinking about our romantic futures – with many of us looking to settle down and start a family before even entering our thirties.

While falling in love and getting married in the first third of your life can often be the recipe for lasting contentment, it simply doesn’t work for everyone – which is why divorce remains relatively common in the UK. Staying single, or waiting to settle down until you’re in your forties or older, can be the better option for a number of reasons.

If you’re over forty and single, there’s no need to panic about what the future holds. Here’s a list of benefits to flying solo in later life and why you should consider mature free and single dating

A healthy network of friends

In theory, the size of your friendship group should have absolutely nothing to do with your relationship status. But, as we’ve heard from social scientists and psychologists, getting into a serious relationship can do serious harm to your closest friendships. Certain studies have even gone as far as suggesting that the time commitment required by a new romance can cost you two whole friendships.

Realistically, a healthy relationship allows you ample room for maintaining the connections you have with your close friends. However, there’s no denying that being single is ultimately the best way to maintain a large social network. One 2015 US study by Natalia Sarkisian and Naomi Gerstel found that single men and women were more likely to stay in contact with (and frequently reach out to) friends when compared with those in relationships. Sarkisian and Gerstel also found that single men and women were more likely to provide help to their friends – and to receive it back in return.

If you’re a sociable person who has a lot of friends, choosing mature free and single dating opposed to a serious relationship will give you the time and energy to maintain those connections in a meaningful, satisfying way. 

The opportunity to travel

Organising a trip away can be difficult enough when you’re travelling solo – throw another person into the mix and your options tend to become even more limited. When you’re in a relationship, travel plans must be carefully calibrated to accommodate work dates, finances, special occasions and – most importantly – personal preferences. Being single means you can go away when you like, picking destinations you’ve always dreamed of visiting, and (work allowing) staying for as long as you like. You’ll also be able to make time for holidays with close friends – an important ritual which often falls by the wayside after you get into a long-term relationship.

If you’re someone who has never travelled alone, doing it for the first time in your forties or fifties can be incredibly liberating. And with many holiday providers such as Saga and Solos catering for a mature demographic, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to meet new friends. As an added bonus, you won’t have to worry about screaming toddlers.

More time for hobbies

Relationships, as we’re told time and time again, are about compromise. Move in with another person and it’s common to have to toss out some of your personal possessions to make room for theirs.

The same goes for hobbies. If you both work through the week, it’s vital to set aside time on a week night or at the weekend to spend with one another. While this shouldn’t cause resentment on either side, there’s no denying that maintaining a romantic commitment to another person can leave you with little time for your own interests and hobbies.

For single people, keeping up with personal passions is a lot simpler. Rather than dedicating your evenings and weekends to those traditional couple activities that tend to be a compromise between your individual interests, you can spend your free time doing whatever you like.

As for the newly single? Your forties, fifties and sixties can be a fantastic time to take up a new pursuit and really commit to it. Studies have shown that learning a new skill can boost happiness and self-confidence, and even stave off age-related conditions such as dementia. And of course, taking up a hobby is also a fantastic way to meet people.

An exciting love life

Perhaps the biggest misconception about being single later in life is that you cease to be a sexual being. The truth is that single people of any age can have incredibly fulfilling and exciting love lives. Being single when you’re over 40 gives you the opportunity to flirt, date casually and enjoy a healthy sex life – none of which necessarily has to lead to long-term commitment.

If you’re wondering how to enter the older dating scene, it’s easier than you might think. As we’ve already pointed out, you can meet new people by taking up a hobby or going on holiday. Beyond that, think about signing up to a variety of dating websites. Modern dating sites and apps cater for all kinds of ages and interests – and they can be a great way to meet people if you’re only looking for something casual.

On the other hand, a dating service can also be a fantastic way to find something more long-term. If you’re a regular reader of the Telegraph, you could benefit from subscribing to Telegraph Dating, where you can meet and chat to like-minded people of a similar age.

No pressure to settle down quickly

For some people in their forties and fifties who aren’t married or in a relationship, staying single may remain their preference. For others, a long-term romance may still be the desired destination.

The good news is that when dating as a senior, there’s far less pressure to settle down and commit to a serious relationship quickly. In your twenties and thirties, finding someone and getting married is often driven by the desire to buy a house and have children. By the time we reach our fifties and sixties, we tend to be financially secure, living in a home we own and unlikely to start having children. Another key benefit of entering into a relationship later in life is that you’re far more likely to have a fixed sense of who you are, and what you’re looking for in a lover.

If you’re a mature person currently single but ultimately seeking a lasting romantic relationship, you shouldn’t feel any need to rush into a commitment. Take your time making connections, talking to lots of exciting new people and working out how – and with whom – you’d like to spend the next couple of decades. Things will fall into place naturally if you give yourself breathing room.

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