As I wrapped up a coaching session with one of my clients, her pain and concerns resonated deeply with me. She said, “In a few short months, my age on all online dating apps will shift from 39 to 40, and I’m disappointed not to have found a relationship yet.” She has just recently started coaching with me to learn the right way to form and navigate relationships, she’s only just begun building momentum in her dating life. However, the impending 40th birthday amplifies the heartache associated with her current ‘single’ status, a sentiment more prevalent for people after 40, especially women.

Society often treats the aging of women and men differently, influencing women to let this stigma shape their mindset and self-perception. The added stress of wanting to have a child intensifies the pain, as societal norms accept an older man starting a family more readily than a woman doing the same after 40. In addition, we, women, may have biology working against us.

It is our responsibility though to recognize these societal norms and decide whether to conform to them. We have a choice not to. I am in my mid-40s now, I only recently formed a healthy loving relationship, that I believe will sustain the test of time and challenges —and it did not happen through luck or fate, it happened because of my consistent intentional effort in looking for my compatible partner to build life together.

While there’s no guarantee everyone will end up in a relationship, giving up on building a thriving life, with or without a partner, shouldn’t be an option. Loneliness and disheartening questions about one’s single status can be challenging.

We may not control entering a relationship, but we have full control over preparing for it. If we don’t, we fail automatically. So, infusing a healthy growth mindset increases our chances of success. You got to make a choice: succumb to victimhood and give up or focus on changing what we control—ourselves and our social lives.

Building and nurturing friendships, acquiring new skills, engaging in new activities, meeting new people not only enrich our lives but increase social exposure, creating opportunities to meet potential partners. Prioritizing love life should be definitely on the agenda. If your age feels like an obstacle to dating success, reconsider. Navigating the dating scene, self-improvement, understanding the other gender, cultivating a healthy mindset and learning relationship skills are keys to inviting positive change into your love life.

Age is irrelevant when seeking love; my clients range from 24 to 73 years old, and every one of them yearns for and works toward forming a connection and finding a partner.

To women feeling hindered by age, remember: healthy men are attracted to youthfulness. And youthfulness is in your approach to life and your behavior, it has nothing to do with your chronological age.

To men, seeking love after 40 (or really at any age) – self-work is where you start! Knowledge is power, giving you competence leading to your dating confidence and eventually to a successful relationship.