Ask Mary Jo: Dating at 46; Keeping the spark from fading

Hey Mary Jo,

I am 46 and dating. How much space is too much space in the beginning when meeting someone new? Do you wait a week for them to follow up or date 5 people to find consistency? Help! 



You sound emotionally mature and ready for a relationship, and that means you must be more selective with who you date. At 46, it’s important to understand up front that you are no longer looking for someone else to take control of the outcome. Approach dating with a goal in mind. Setting that goal to be finding an emotionally mature, responsible partner to share your life with will lead to success when your actions follow your intentions. These suggestions can help.

  1. If you’re online dating, do your profile with a friend. Friends helps us lighten up with our profiles. Don’t brag or be self-deprecating. A photo that shows you pursuing an interest works best for a relationship.
  2. Scan prospective daters carefully and choose three you’d like to begin an email exchange with. This part is important. Schedule a meet-up after 3 to 4 email exchanges if you’re interested. If not, weed them out right away. People get stuck here because their fear begins making them ask, “What if no one else responds?” Face that fear and clear them out anyway.
  3. A coffee meet-up is best. If you don’t coffee, drink tea or water. You want the location to have an easy in and out and be comfortable. Be on time and expect the same from your prospective date.
  4. Be aware how they speak to others and how considerate they are. People tell us who they are with actions. Pay attention and believe what you see. Stay away from talking about your problems but do talk about your interests.
  5. Have a reason to leave after the meet-up and stick with your plan. First meetups should be just that. They aren’t a date or a booty call; your goal is to meet the person and decide if you want to see them again.
  6. Offer to split the check or pay for your own up front. If he offers to pay, you can accept his offer, but don’t expect it and don’t demand it.
  7. Wait to see if he emails or texts you back. If a man is interested in you, he will let you know within a week. Anything longer than that and you can cross him off your list.
  8. If he responds quickly and he’s serious, he should have a plan for a real date, including a fixed time and place. If he wants to keep it loose or spontaneous without scheduling it, he is most likely not ready for a woman like you or a relationship. Respect yourself enough to know what you want and embrace only those prospective partners who are looking for the same thing. The worst thing isn’t starting over with dating; it’s staying in a dead-end game of people who want the benefits of a relationship without putting forward any effort to help create it.

Hi Mary Jo,

Whenever I am talking to someone, there is a spark and then it fades away. How can I prevent this from happening?



In real relationships, an initial spark fades if nothing happens. My hunch is you meet them and they like you, but nothing happens or there is no follow-through so the spark fizzles. It’s difficult to know if they really like being with you unless you take the first step and ask them out. It’s impossible to know if you have chemistry together unless you spend time together. I advise you to be as direct as you can and ask them if they’d like to get together. If they agree, have a plan because that shows confidence, which is an important aspect of creating a spark. These suggestions can help you.

  1. The plan is first. Consider your date’s preferences and show her you put effort into making her feel special. Something as simple as listening and remembering she told you she adored Italian food and taking her to a cozy Italian place will make a big impression upon her. It shows you are a good listener and generous thinking of others.
  2. Don’t become consumed with “what ifs?” Don’t obsess about whether your date likes you, rather enjoy the time together. You’ll be more relaxed and so will your date. The most attractive you’ll ever be is when you are smiling and enjoying each other. This revives most sparks.
  3. For great communication, stay curious. Curiosity ignites sparks and it also makes for great communication. Listen to your date and ask questions about experiences they’ve had.  
  4. Keep things light but interesting. Joking around too much makes you look nervous and uncomfortable. A sense of humor is an important part to good chemistry, but cracking constant jokes isn’t. Being able to keep the conversation positive while being sensitive to the topic is key.

Keeping the spark alive is largely about being able to combine good chemistry with experiences you both enjoy while learning more and more about each other. The more comfortable you are in your own skin, the more likely your date will want to spend time with you in the future.