Dating has certainly changed in the last few years. Unlike our grandparents, few arrive in their first relationship fresh faced and virginal, moving straight from the family home to marital home. You might be single, but not necessarily feeling free. As more and more people find themselves in or choosing lifestyles that don’t conform to the marriage and 2.4 children in a suburban home formula.

According to a study commissioned for the launch of novel Graeme Simsion’s The Rosie Project the average woman will have two long term relationships before she meets ‘The One.’ Given that we’re living longer than ever, dating in your twenties, thirties and forties is now dating in you prime, and in fact over 40s dating shouldn’t be that different from dating in your 20s. And like in your twenties, talking about exes is a no-no. Whatever the time of your life, Julia Hasche, says that “Slagging off your ex is an unnatural conversation topic, particularly for a first date. Not to mention off-putting.” Of course exes exist – you just don’t have to talk about them right away.

Then, marrying said One happens later than ever before, at an average age of 34. And will it last? The rate itself has dropped by 27% in 40 years, to around 9 in 1000 marriages ending this way, and the average age of divorce is around 43 for women. So there’s plenty of opportunity to get out there again.

Dating later means that kids might be a key consideration. Although small, there is a rising number of women choosing to have children via IVF or other means – with no partner at all. In 2014, women accounted for 91% of lone parents with dependent children. Single parents dating not only have to worry about finding the right person for them, but also the right person for their children.

Safety is crucial, but so is honesty. You need to tell your date any important factors in your life – and that includes children. However, as Lucy Good of Beanstalk says, “They are not ‘baggage’ as some people infuriatingly refer to them. They are part of the wonderful package that is you”.

By the time you reach adulthood you will have formed a personality and begin to feel more solid in yourself. You want someone you will accept you for who you are – yet it’s important not to be too rigid and Karina of Datelicious speaks of the 80/20 rule when it comes to your tick list. “You will have more compatibilities than incompatibilities….However, you will know going in to the relationship that there will be some tolerable incompatibilities. The incompatibilities in your relationship can actually challenge you and lead to personal growth.” The person who you thought might be perfect for you, might not be the perfect person.

Whatever your age or situation Kara Wright’s advice is to “Take your time — try to avoid rushing and moving in together until you really know who they are, their values, how they show up and know that what they bring only adds to your life, it doesn’t take away.” Whether you have kids, are divorced, or just haven’t found the right one yet, or have something else that makes you not flawless, it’s wise advice.

Words: Francesca Baker

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