Midlife Musings... Interview with Genevieve Gresset, relationship and dating expert.
"I know getting older is a privilege and I really want my kids and grand daughter to learn from my mistakes and ensure they have an enriching and magical life without the hardships I had to endure."
“I think women of a certain age, with empty nest syndrome, can really struggle to find their next purpose and having confidence in the next chapter can be rather daunting and I’d love to navigate it with more ease.”
Every couple of weeks I post an interview with an inspiring midlifer on topics ranging from beliefs, goals and habits, to food, mood and mojo; from sex, success and style, to fitness, health and hormones, from sleep, skin and hair to career, change and challenges and a bit of whatever else you fancy that affects us women at midlife. This is Genevieve Gresset, matchmaker on Series 5 of Married at First Sight, and guest expert for the BBC and many other media outlets. She runs an incredible business centred around supporting other people’s love lives and developing reconnective work for women at her retreats.
I’ve met and interviewed hundreds of people over the years for my freelance features for UK and Irish media and my books. Every so deliciously and unexpectedly often, that conversation ignites into something beyond the parameters of the initial subject matter of the interview and I meet a kindred spirit. Genevieve was one of those. Newly separated and coming to terms with single parenting and the frightening vista of midlife dating, I was writing a feature for a UK newspaper on finding romance in midlife. I rang to interview her and as we chatted, my cup of tea grew cold as our connection grew warmer and we bonded over the urgency we both felt to support women in midlife and give them the tools to live vibrantly and valiantly, alongside living that challenge ourselves. Once the article was written and published, we met in London for cocktails and have kept in touch. And I never forgot the very important advice she gave me about midlife dating… which you’ll see below.
Here’s Genevieve’s thoughts on love, ageing and the importance of chocolate and fizz.
Hi Genevieve, why do you do what you do?
The work I do is all about helping women take control of their life and relationships, but by prioritising themselves first, and then others. It’s about learning to love who you are today and not mourn who you were, or the life and relationship you feel you should have had. We are our own worse enemies and the retreats I run are really life changing and empowering on so many levels.
What’s the best bit of advice you wish you’d been given sooner?
Don’t be afraid to take risks, opportunities and embrace the journey. Don’t worry so much. What we can’t control isn’t worth getting upset about.
What would you tell your 20 year old self?
You really don’t know it all despite thinking you do. Listen to wiser people and trust your instinct more and not be led by others who have no idea either!
What must have happened, or for you to have experienced or achieved that hasn’t yet, that you’d look back at 99 and say “Yes!”.
Oooo this is really hard as I’ve done so much and pushed the boundaries in ways I never thought I would. Being totally open and vulnerable here, I would say being married to someone who values me and life as much as I do. Sadly my first marriage was very hard as we got together way too young and I would love to experience marriage in a grown up way. I have met someone amazing now, who that could be possible with…. So let’s see!
Tell us one of the toughest things you’ve gone through and what you learned as a result.
Wow…. Where do I start. Divorce, miscarriages, horrific pregnancies and life being turned upside down far too many times are just a few things but the most life changing was getting a phone call to say during covid that my Father was dying in France. He had been chopping wood in his beautiful orchard a few days before and couldn’t get up due to back ache. He was taken to hospital and after a catalogue of mis-diagnosis episodes he was given weeks to live. He begged me to get him home and he wasn’t fully aware of what was wrong. I had to work with embassies, hospitals, local doctors and pack up my life here in the middle of filming for Channel 4 and leave my then 20-year-old and 15 year old at home to go and care for him. I had no idea how hard that would be physically, emotionally and psychologically. I learnt that life really is precious and can literally change in a phone call. I don’t take anything for granted anymore and every moment with a loved one is precious. I learnt that I am more resourceful, capable, and have better leadership skills that needed to be exercised when no one else could step up to the plate. Determination was something everyone said I had bucket loads of during my life but this was one time I really believed in me and what I could do. I never want to be tested in that way again, but I know now I have the resilience and courage to face the world in different way after that.
What is your “guilty” pleasure (but we’re not doing guilt because guilt is a wasted emotion and we all need to own our shit, so what is your secret sauce that always makes you feel better)?
Chocolate always helps and reading a book in the sunshine with no time restraints so I can get really lost in it. Now combine the two and throw in a glass of fizz and we are talking a totally different level!
What are you tolerating in your life right now, or what are you working on that you’d like to improve?
I’m juggling the next step. I’ve had an incredible career and now I’m looking for a better work life balance with security. I think women of a certain age, with empty nest syndrome can really struggle to find their next purpose and having confidence in the next chapter can be rather daunting and I’d love to navigate it with more ease.
What’s the hardest thing to balance in your life right now?
Food and life is so hard during menopause as I crave things I know are not good for me. I work out 5 days a week but it doesn’t seem to help. My body is nowhere near how it used to be and I struggle with that. So, I think food and learning to love my new grown up body is the hardest thing to come to terms with and find the right balance.
If you could wave a midlife magic wand, what you most wish for for women today?
To eat anything they want and still have the body they had in their 20’s as well as the confidence to carry it off and enjoy it!
What matters most in your own midlife?
My sanity right now as well as good health. I know getting older is a privilege and I really want my kids and grand daughter to learn from my mistakes and ensure they have an enriching and magical life without the hardships I had to endure.
What is a midlife mantra you try to live by?
I have one I tell everyone, but I know I need to embrace it more. Stop, Think and Breathe!
What would you like to share about the work you do and why it’s important for women in midlife?
I love watching the women grow as each new experience we all share lights something really magical in them. Hearing months and years later about the new life they are loving fills my heart so much that I’m constantly looking for ways to support women more through their incredible journey. My best advice is to ditch the expectations list and date with an open heart. On paper the wonderful man I’m with would never had stood a chance and he’s the most inspirational and authentic man I’ve ever met. The old dating “me” would never have agreed to meet him on my old set of dating criteria and that list kept me single for far too long. When you have such superficial expectations they only serve one purpose and that is to keep you single! You may think they are there to protect you but actually they lock you up in your own world and never allow anyone in. Go out and meet people who make you smile and you have fun with. Nothing else matters! Life is so fluid, jobs change, life’s circumstances change and what does it matter if he’s only 2 inches taller than you! At the end of the day you want to be with someone who makes your heart sing and you do the same for them. Get rid of the ridiculous lists!!!
Links to Relationship Retreats