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Dating at Midlife: Whats First?

More American women over 45 are single, than ever before. According to the latest population surveys, someone turns 50 every 8 seconds in the U.S. and more than half of that figure is female.

According to Christian Science Monitor writer, Marilyn Gardner, "To newly minted singles coming out of long marriages, the prospect of dating can be daunting."

At the initial phase of dating, the boomer woman may want to ask herself, "why date?" In other words, what is the objective?

In 2003, AARP conducted a study asking participants why they dated and found "the single most important...reason...is to have someone to talk to or do things with." This reason accounted for almost half of the singles in the study.

One woman from an email group didn't agree, "If these two reasons were the only reason for a woman to date it might be less complicated if she ran around with another woman instead of a man. She wouldn't have to worry about giving the guy the wrong signals. If I dated a guy it would also be because I found him sexually attractive," she said.

Other reasons from the study included: to have fun, find a partner, find someone to marry and to fulfill sexual needs.

Understanding why you want to date is an important first step in the process. This gives you a clear objective and eliminates unnecessary time spent in relationships that have nothing to do with your objective.

In addition to dating motivations, the new single should consider what type of relationship they want. Susan Dunn, EQ coach of Momentum Coaching asks, "Companionship without commitment? Is that with or without sex? Do you want long-term and sex? Is that with or without commitment? Friend with benefits? Benefits without friendship? Marriage? Is that marriage with or without fidelity?"

Once you know what you want, you can learn to ask for what you want. Don't be shy when you begin dating, the time (and heart) you save is your own.

Knowing when you're ready to date is just as important as why. Generally, experience and distance from relationships gives a person not just a needed break, but also some insight into their motivations and what they need from a relationship.

If you're going to step out again here are a few things to consider:

  • Are you mentally prepared to deal with whatever situation may arise?
  • Is your self-esteem at a high point?
  • Do you have confidence in your choices and avoid second guessing yourself?
  • If you have these three collared, you're ready to get back out there.

    Carla R. Herrera is a freelance writer and author of The Contemporary Woman's Guide to Midlife: Essays and Resources for Life Transitions. She's currently working on her next book, Contemporary Woman's Guide to Midlife Dating and publishes an online magazine for midlife women, 40+

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