When Lena began dating, her youngest son, Paul, joined the same dating site. Lena, divorced, was 52 and Paul 24. While Paul was searching for a future wife, his mother was looking for someone to retire with. Mother and son had something in common: they were looking for love. As the entire family witnessed their dating sagas unfold, Lena became the subject of criticism.

Her family was concerned for her safety and reputation. After 30 years of marriage, they knew, that Lena was very vulnerable. What did she know about dating and strangers or date rape and sexually transmitted diseases? Lena knew one thing for certain: love does not have a best-before date. Evidently there was another unspoken concern: who would cook Sunday dinners, watch the grandkids and walk the dogs if mom or grandma was dating. Lena was not about to let these chores hold her back.

Lena is one of many fiery over 50 dames with lots of love and life. The idea of dating put a sparkle into her eyes. After a few “let’s meet for coffee” dates, that didn’t amount to anything, Lena struck gold! Ryan, whom she met in her doctor’s waiting room, was everything she hoped for. They exchanged phone numbers, leaving Lena’s doctor worried about her elevated heart rate. A widower without children, Ryan was like a breath of fresh air. Easy-going, fun, responsible, smart and loving, he put romance and zest into her life. They fell madly in love and lived happily ever after.

This is a dating dream come true for most older, single women. Today, dating over 50 is just as common as dating at a younger age. However, there are profound differences in life circumstances and experiences. While Lena’s 24-year old son is still a person in the making, much of her personality is carved in stone. Unfortunately, not all dating adventures of older singles have happy endings. More often than not, dating at a mature age comes with baggage. Ex wives, stepchildren, step-grandchildren, in-laws or out-laws just to name a few. Divorces, followed by revolving-door relationships, health problems, commitments and inflexible lifestyles can be added to the list. This baggage prevents many singles from creating close relationships. With an increase of singles over 50, are we gearing up for a new generation of senior singles, even though most consider living alone undesirable? Here is the good news for all mature singles, who have not found their “one and only”. Whether they use the Internet, dating agencies, single events or their doctor’s waiting room, precaution and safety rules apply equally.

As a mature person you have gained qualities such compassion, integrity, wisdom and patience, all of which nurture rewarding relationships. Unlike your children, you are most likely much better equipped for a loving relationship. Use exactly those qualities to find love and keep love. Avoid falling victim of clever-minded dating strategies in the modern world of romance. Youth isn’t the only thing that guarantees dating success. Successful relationships are based on three principles: mutual respect, moral responsibility and authenticity. These are also common-sense principles while dating and here is what they mean:

1.Mutual Respect: Others are just as valuable as you
Our generation has made history as ambassadors of a “me first” society. Much of the dating advice today supports this attitude. Just make your wish list and check it against your date. You may find yourself relationship shopping, believing that you never have to compromise again. Yet, compromise is part of life, love and relationships. While dating should be fun, for most 50 plus singles it is about finding a life-mate. It should also be about giving your date a chance, instead of stereotyping. When you date, treat him with respect. Be on time, be interested in him and listen. If you are attracted to each other, share your likes and dislikes openly and encourage him to do the same. Don’t get lost in keeping score. Don’t tell him you are an outdoor enthusiast, if the only trees you ever see are on TV. Respect that he is meeting you to determine if there is enough interest to warrant a second date. By all means give each other a chance. If you are not interested in him, don’t lead him on. You are mature and don’t need a black book filled with admirers. If you like him, but sense that the feeling is not mutual, make it easy to call the quits. Treat your date the way you would want to be treated and you can never go wrong.

2.Moral Responsibility: You are always morally responsible to those with whom you have a relationship
This begs the question as to when a relationship begins. You have graduated from the coffee shop to seeing a movie together. He wined and dinned you and asks you to join him for a barbeque with his friends. While this is not a marriage proposal, it is nevertheless personal. No red flags have popped up yet and you accept the invitation. This has the potential of an evolving relationship. Now is the time to get to know more about him instead of looking over the shoulder for other hot guys. Here is why: often relationships between dating singles never develop because they are occupied with multiple dates. Investing your time in one date also helps you decide sooner if you should cut loose. Sleeping with multiple dates is morally irresponsible to each one. If the idea of you running into your new guy flirting with another woman has little appeal to you, don’t put him in that situation either. Be as responsible as you would be to your best friend, because he may be that some day. If things don’t work out, at least you have maintained your integrity.

3.Authenticity: Love only happens when you are real
Have you ever found yourself laughing simply because everyone else did? Agreed with someone’s opinion even though you didn’t share it? Told your lover you had a fabulous time when you didn’t or said: “I love you” when you didn’t mean it. In other words did you ever do something inconsistent with your true self just to please someone, get attention or get what you wanted? Of course we all have. We have lost the bravery to be real! For many there is quite a gap between the person inside and the person they present to the world. In the competitive world of dating misrepresentation is at an all time high.
If you are searching for love, forget about dating rules and how to make him fall in love with you. Forget about Mars and Venus, we are all from the same planet. In the real world we are all human beings first, men and women second. Most singles over 50 seek love and a sense of belonging. For this generation love sells as much as sex does. Wear what makes you feel like a million dollar babe, not what you think impresses him. While you are not expected to disclose your sexual history on a first date, be straightforward on topics you are comfortable with. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Feel free to ask him about things that do not invade his privacy. Be authentic, be real and be you. Don’t waste your precious time pretending to be what you are not. You may not land many second dates, but at this stage it is not about quantity, rather about quality. As a 50 plus single you still have many years of life left, but don’t forget that the good years may be numbered. If you just want to date go and have fun. If it is true love you are seeking stay focused on being the best of you. Love only happens when you are real.

These three universal principles are no-fail dating concepts that keep you sane and on the road to love. To boost your dating success, Ivana Trump is adding a bonus for all the fabulous, mature women out there. In her new TV show she will introduce older women to younger men. Sounds like the Demi Moore style of dating is gaining popularity. With quite a few older men dating much younger women, Ivana is orchestrating a balancing act. Love has no boundaries, love is ageless and it keeps you young. Maybe Ivana’s reality show will get you in the groove.

© 2004 Allie Ochs

Author's Bio: 

Allie is a relationship expert, coach, speaker and author of ‘Are You Fit To Love?’ Allie has been through the “school of hard knocks” personally and then vicariously as a coach for the largest relationship agency in the world.

Allie is published in numerous newsletters, magazines and has appeared on TV and Radio. She was one of the signing authors at the American Book Expo 2004 in Chicago. Visit her website for FREE relationship and dating advice or e-mail: allie@fit2love.com