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Getting back into the dating game the second or third time around

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When you are in your twenties or thirties dating is fun and exciting. You've never been married and you are looking for someone to build a family with, have kids with and begin a life together. The second or third time around you most likely have been married, may even have a few kids and dating is different. You look for different things than you did the first time around. You usually know exactly what you want, and you aren't as likely to settle for anything less.

The problem is this attitude excludes many people and includes very few. You may begin wondering if there is any hope for you at all. Here are my dos and don'ts for dating later in life, whether you are looking for a life partner or a spouse.

Do: Remember the first date is only to see if there will be a second. You aren't interviewing them for marriage.

Don't: Be critical. People who are opinionated or judgmental have less successful relationship opportunities.

Do: have fun and be curious. Dates are lessons in disguise. As a general rule, the person you end up forming a relationship with may not look or be anything like the sort of person you had envisioned.

Don't: Compare them to your ex. There are times when you see things in others that you don't like, but assuming a man or woman who does something like your ex is exactly like your ex is a mistake.

Do: Remember, a date is NOT a relationship. Don't scare yourself away from dating because you aren't ready for a relationship.

Five tips to help you get out the door and engage in dating again.

1. Keep the dates simple. Meeting at a coffee shop is easy, safe, and will give you a clearer picture of who this person is and whether or not you want more.

2. Don't be someone you aren't, but do put your best foot forward when meeting the person. A sloppy presentation is never as well received as a together one.

3. Don't take anything personally. This person comes with baggage that is brought on by years of experience. Don't claim their baggage and don't try to help them unpack their baggage on a date.

4. The date isn't about them, it's about you. How do you feel? Is this someone who you believe you would like to know more, or are there red flags flying everywhere?

5. No matter what you hear in the news, sex is never a good idea until you have a relationship established. Dating is not a relationship. The only time to have sex is when you are ready to deal with the possible consequences (that is never the first date).

Keep dating about the experience rather than the goal of finding a partner and you will more likely end up with both; a great experience and a wonderful partner.

– Mary Jo Rapini

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