Swiping outside the box in your 30s, 40s, and beyond? Read this.
Whether swinging or kinking, seeking a Dom or a pan-poly-switch, dating in the lifestyle comes with its own etiquette and expectations.
The tips below are valuable for people of any age or gender (and most apply in vanilla dating, too).
However, I wanted to really home in on some of the specific things I see coming up for sexually adventurous women my age and above.
After chatting with others like me who are dating in these scenes, here are the most important takeaways I’ve found. Be sure not to miss #8!
1. Don’t let age get you down.
There’s something about being over 35 (or 45, 55, 65…) that really gets to people’s heads. Our lives may look nothing like we expected them to at our age, and for some that invites insecurity.
The good news, however, is that people in the lifestyle tend to have very different expectations around what we’re “supposed” to be doing at any particular age.
Of course, there are always exceptions. Ageist kinksters do exist, and even welcoming scenes can feel uncomfortable if you’re the only person over 25 at a party.
It’s also not unheard of for women over 35 to be fetishized for their age. If you don’t mind that, great! If you do, you may have to watch for signs that it’s happening without your consent.
Trust your gut. It’s okay to decide a particular person, organization, or establishment isn’t for you and go on the hunt for a better fit.
In the meantime, take pride in your age. Whether it comes with decades of lifestyle experience or you’re a newbie who wishes you’d started sooner, you’re here now and you have so much to offer your lucky match (or matches).
2. Love your body.
With age insecurity often comes body insecurity.
Many women endure a lifetime of undesired commentary on our bodies. It’s understandable that as time passes, we become even more attuned to the ways in which our bodies don’t fit the conventional image of “desirable”.
This is why it’s so important to dig even harder into loving your body as the years go on. The more you love your body, the more you command love of your body from those around you (and inspire them to love their own!).
If loving your body hasn’t been easy for you, try my free mirror exercise to get started:
I also recommend reading The Body is Not an Apology by Sonya Renee Taylor.
3. Prepare for long searches.
You may have already discovered this, but finding a good match in the lifestyle can take a surprisingly long time. It might be the reason you clicked on this article!
You’ll still meet people who look nothing like their profile pic, people who hide dealbreakers until you’re already invested, and people who talk a big game but don’t deliver.
Some people say that nonmonogamous and kinky folks should prepare for an even longer search for good matches while dating. I wouldn’t quite go that far. Every individual is unique enough, vanilla or not, to make finding another person with enough shared interests and values tough.
So prepare for the journey the same way you would a long expedition. Nurture a community of friends and family members to support you along the way. Have hobbies other than dating. Practice self-care. Take on personal projects that inspire growth.
When you find your person, you’ll have so much to talk about.
4. Vary your methods.
I’m always surprised when people are eager to hasten the search, but unwilling to branch out.
If you’re glued to Feeld (or even just apps in general) without ever getting out to munches, parties, or sex-positive events and shows, you’re missing out on a goldmine of potential partners.
Similarly, if you only ever attend the same munches, parties, and events, you’re likely only getting exposed to a trickle of new faces.
Don’t burn yourself out, of course. If you’re socially anxious, attend one real-world event with a trusted friend and give yourself time to recuperate before attending again.
If swiping through dating profiles makes you feel like a zombie, limit how much time you spend on the apps each day or week.
5. Date yourself.
While seeking and meeting so many interesting people, don’t forget to take yourself out on dates once in a while.
It’s easy to get lost in the cycle of quick meets and getting-to-know-you interviews that come with dating. If you’re craving something a bit more personalized to your tastes and a little less like an audition, gift it to yourself!
By nurturing a strong primary relationship with yourself, you allow your dates to meet you in all your self-loving glory. This is the foundation of a really healthy relationship or dynamic.
6. Keep showing up and stay late.
A piece of advice I often give people who are shy but trying to get into a scene is to keep showing up and stay late.
Even if no one talks to you. Even if you spend the whole time lurking. Even if you don’t participate in any activities. Show up; stay late.
Showing up repeatedly is how people become regulars. With time, you become a familiar face in the crowd. You’ll also likely grow more comfortable with the space and the people who frequent it.
Staying late is the second half of this tactic. This way, you’re most likely to find yourself included in the unstructured socializing that tends to happen at the end of events or informal after-parties.
Eventually, someone’s bound to break the ice. There’s nearly always at least one extrovert excited to connect with new people. Trust the process: keep showing up. Keep staying late. You’ll make friends and meet potential matches.
7. Never settle.
The journey is long, and the prospects aren’t always promising.
Despite this, you owe it to yourself to never settle for a partner who doesn’t meet your needs, desires, and limits. (More on those next.)
Do yourself justice. If you need a break from dating, take one! Give yourself the love, attention, dates, and kinky sex you need. There’s no need to accept it from someone you’re not excited to receive it from.
8. Know your needs, limits, & desires.
This is perhaps the most important tip on this list. Not knowing your needs, limits, and desires not only makes for unproductive meetups and dates—it can also be unsafe.
For example, if you’re dating to meet potential Doms they’ll likely ask about your needs, limits, and desires to determine your compatibility.
If your response is, “I don’t know,” or “I’m down for anything,” a safe Dom who’s willing to mentor you will encourage you to figure out specifics and get back to them. (Other safe Doms will simply let you know your interests are incompatible. Not all Doms have the desire or energy to mentor subs.)
By contrast, an unsafe Dom will see this as a green light to do whatever they want with you. That can go bad fast.
The same goes for anything or anyone you’re seeking.
Not sure what your needs, limits, and desires are? Check out my free ebook 100 New Sex Ideas for Experienced Lovers. It pulls ideas from kink, BDSM, polyamory, and other forms of nonmonogamy all into one place.
Go through the book and indicate which ideas are desires (you want to do them) and which are limits (you don’t want to do them). It’s okay if you have some “maybe’s” in there, too.
If you find yourself reading the book and saying, “I’d like to do that, but in order to feel safe and secure I’d need _______,” congratulations! You just found a need. Be sure to save those somewhere to help guide your journey.
100 New Sex Ideas is great for finding needs, limits, and desires in the bedroom. However, you’ll also want to consider what your needs, limits, and desires are outside the bedroom too.
Confident Dating in the Lifestyle
Dating confidently in kinky, polyamorous, and/or other lifestyle circles requires a healthy dose of self-knowledge and plenty of patience.
If you’d like support on the journey, join my mailing list for free monthly resources and upcoming event notifications.
You can also check out my upcoming classes to see if any are a fit for you.
I’d be happy to help you find your bliss.
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