(Note: This is the second in a 3-part series. Read part 1 of my series about dating in midlife.)
6. Plan in advance to go on lots of dates. Chances are good that the first guy you go out with won’t be “the one.” One of my divorced girlfriends, a fellow biking enthusiast, went on 20 first dates during the course of a year before meeting a man she really clicked with and cared about. She called it “sport dating,” approaching each first date as if it was an adventure. That 20th first date was with a fellow cyclist who showed up in a $5,000 car with a $10,000 bike – and in that moment, she knew she had met “the one.” If she had viewed any of the previous 19 dates as a waste of time or a failure and giving up dating as a result, she would have never met her terrific new husband.
7. Be brutally honest in your online dating profile. If you don’t want to date men with children or guys with facial hair, say it. But be brutally honest about yourself, as well. List your strengths and a few of your weaknesses, too, and include recent, clear, up-close photos in your favorite outfit or performing your favorite activity.
8. Be honest with yourself about what you want. Write it down if you need to, but have a clear picture in your mind of what you know you want and don’t want in a man. You’re a grown woman. Your tastes and needs aren’t likely to change overnight. If you know what you want (and hopefully you do!), then you might as well be on the lookout for it.
9. Don’t let the online conversations go on too long – get to the real thing sooner rather than later. When I first started dating, I had several lengthy conversations with guys via text or email, learning everything about them, only to find out on first sight that there was zero chemistry. Nothing’s more disappointing to arrive at a chat ‘n chew with a complete stranger only to find that he’s not the one AND that you now have to spend an hour talking with him when you know everything there is to know. No chemistry + nothing to talk about = one boring dinner. What worked for me was several texts back and forth, one phone conversation to make sure he can carry on a conversation and is still interesting to you, and then setting up a time to meet. (In public, please.)
10. Be polite. I have heard so many stories about people of both sexes excusing themselves from a date saying that they had to use the restroom, then finding the waiter, paying their own bill, and sneaking out the door. Can you imagine how that must feel to be the person left sitting at the table? Only once did I go out on a date that was so bad that I couldn’t finish it. I asked for the check and then told the man as politely as I could that I didn’t feel we were a good match, blamed myself, wished him all the luck in the world with finding a great girl, and then left. It was awkward. But if the shoe was on the other foot, wouldn’t you rather your date be honest than to sneak out the back door leaving you wondering what went wrong? Treat the other person with the same dignity you’d want to receive yourself.