Home Commentary Gators, Pythons, and Dating Over 40

Gators, Pythons, and Dating Over 40

A humorous column about the insanity of online dating over age 40 by Lifestyle Editor and columnist Dana Hairston Hof.

Oh boy, do I have a dumpster fire of a subject for y’all. 


Dating over 40. 

Get your popcorn and settle in for this yummy sideshow of what it would be like riding the ricketiest wooden roller coaster through the Florida Everglades. A delight for the senses, to be sure.

Roller coasters sound fun in concept. Wee and woo. The Everglades are, in fact, a sensory extravaganza of the mysteries of nature. But after you ride the roller coaster, your Google search reveals a history of OSHA violations and two near-deaths. The Everglades, while beautiful from an airplane, are actually teeming with gators and invasive pythons. Dating over 40 is the same. 

An airboat tour in a flimsy, aluminum sardine can to see the sights? No and thanks. Online dating is the swamp airboat tour.

The problem with dating at 47 is that we have seen behind the curtain. Part of the excitement of dating and marrying in your early 20s is that you are completely ignorant to what lay ahead. With the right outlook and faith, you can grow and mold and shape together to meet the coming day. But as we age, we get on the plane with baggage, expired passports, and crying babies (literally and figuratively speaking). 

So, as we enter this new world of dating, we reflect on what we wanted, what we got, what didn’t work, and what we want to make it better. But are WE better? Maybe so, give or take a hormonal influence or 1,000. And if you don’t think you’re better…get thyself to a therapist STAT. Don’t bring all that into the cesspool of partnering up. 

So, what DOES dating after 40 look like? 

Well, the wooden roller coaster through the Everglades is close to accurate, but let’s look at more specifics. 

Dating at 47 is like having a mango stand, but all anyone wants is bananas. Except you can’t get bananas and when you do, they’re either green or rotten. Now, if you’ve got a stand selling beer and use half naked body parts in your marketing…SEIZE THE DAY, Honey, this is your ERA!

“Meet someone at church!” your people might say. “Thank you, Aunt Martha Ann. Noted.” But I can tell you from experience, Oh look, it’s a SQUIRREL!

It would be lovely if friends could set up friends, but they’ve seen behind the curtain, too, and want no part of connecting two circuses for one gigantic train wreck circus extraordinaire. My friends know what my life is like and their husbands friends know what their single friends are like and nary the tween shall meet lest no friends are left at all. 

So, online dating it is. Or isn’t. Or is. Or isn’t. I had to say that a few times, because the reality is that you sign up, think “dear Mother Mary and her cousin,too,” get off, pray for everyone mainly yourself, delete your account, develop amnesia, get kind of bored on a Friday night, and do it all over again, only to have clear recollection of the disaster you haven’t been missing on swipe number one. 

I just want a man who’s funny like Chris Farley, seeks justice like Mandela, is as good a man as my father, and is as hot as Robert Redford has been at any age. Specifically the 1985 Out of Africa version, but again, any age will do. 

Spoiler alert: Chris Mandela Redford does not exist. We have a rule at Local Pulse that we don’t make fun of people, because it’s not nice and Jesus is watching, but I promise you if I could reveal details of the online dating profiles I’ve seen…this article would be viral. 

So, I’ll speak in generalities. There’s one generality: there’s hoardes that need a fully submerged baptism in the River Jordan. In fact, I need to be fully submerged in the Jordan after viewing them. If you, too, are suffering from LeftSwipeFingeritis, there are 4 churches on Palafox with holy water, a baptismal font, and a full-on dunkin’ booth. They don’t need it, we do. Cleanse my eyes and ears, Lord! 

The profiles begin with “Things we can bond over…” The answer is nothing. There is nothing me, you, and the dead fish you are posing with can bond over. Why? Well for starters, you have simply taken a digital magic marker to your exes face and called your profile photo good. 

Buford, it is NOT good.

While we are all a work in progress, at 47…I need your progression to be at 93 and a half percent. Okay? Most of us are not looking for potential. Potential is how I refer to my yard. Or my abs. Both things can be fixed with money. If your potential involves a diagnosis or an exorcism, seek help not partnership. And for the love of Pete, stop scribbling Sue Ellen’s face out of your pictures. Take new ones. That wasn’t from your glory days at Auburn or Southern Miss. 

Most women my age don’t care that your hair is a little less or that your body isn’t perfect. Mine surely isn’t. What we do care about is the truth. And contrary to what must guide a lot of behavior, we CAN handle the truth. And on that note, here’s a few more over 40 dating tips:

If you change your mind, don’t ghost people. Say this instead, “I’m sorry, I’ve changed my mind about this and would like to cancel. I wish you the best.”

Keep your pictures recent, without filters, and without pictures of your children. No one wants to swipe on Prince Charming and be unable to find him when arriving at the restaurant.

Don’t keep people on the hook. If there’s reciprocal interest, ask for a date. But take it slow. Meet for coffee or a smoothie on date one. If it’s weird, you can leave immediately. If it’s okay, but just not a love connection, your politeness only has to extend for 16 ounces. 

Evaluate the reality of who YOU are AND your situation and extend grace to the other for the same. Bring positivity and light to your space with a goal to bring goodness and friendship to another person’s life.

Keep your mind open and your attitude positive. 

If all else fails, log off and go shopping instead. I’ve yet to meet a new top that was as bad as my worst date. 

May the Lord be with you. And also with Sue Ellen.