More people are finding love online than ever before - many of them in their 50s-plus. While there are no "dating rules" as such, we can all get into bad habits, no matter what our age. If you haven't found love yet, here are five mistakes to ditch.
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See also: Dating in your 50s-plus? What NOT to ask on a first date
See also: Dating after divorce - dos and don'ts
1. Living in the past
The good thing about dating later in life, is that you've been around long enough to know what you want (and don't want) in a relationship. It can be tempting to compare your new date to an ex-partner, but make the effort not to judge too quickly.
Perhaps you're widowed or divorced and no one can ever replace the person you lost – or maybe you're feeling burnt out and bitter after yet another failed relationship. Either way, never mention a previous relationship on the first few dates. If they ask, give brief details only. Your focus should be on enjoying the present moment – and the unique person who's sat opposite you.
2. Never taking a risk
You hate game-playing – you're far too old and wise for that – so why hide your feelings? If you really enjoyed your date's company, text and say so. If someone sends you an email that makes you laugh out loud, tell them. If you want to go on a date with someone, ask them.
Yes, there's a chance you may be rejected or come across too strong – but you have just as much to lose by playing it safe. Too many people miss out because they're afraid of looking a fool, or fear rejection. Life's short – so take a risk. If they're the right person for you, it will work out.
3. Making excuses
You will try online dating one day – once you've lost a stone, retired, or your health complaint has cleared up. Don't let insecurities about your personal situation or appearance stop you from enjoying life. Of course, if you're recently been bereaved or you're getting over a divorce, there's a good reason to take some time out – but otherwise, just do it. Plenty of people on the site will have health issues/insecurities about their weight or appearance. Wait until you 'build up your courage' and you might wait forever!
4. Worrying what other people with think
In your twenties, you may have chosen a date to please your parents (or perhaps to annoy them!). When you're dating for the second-time around, go with your gut and ignore what anyone else thinks. Your grown-up children may not approve and your friends may wonder if you're going do-lally – but who cares? If the person you're dating makes you feel alive and they bring a smile to your face, go with it.
5. Taking it too seriously
You're not getting any younger and you want to find someone special to enjoy the time that's left – but try not to take dating (or yourself) too seriously. Be silly, let your sense of humour show, and enjoy things for what they are. You went on a lovely date but it didn't come to anything more than that? Instead of feeling sore, be grateful you had a nice evening. Your date was a complete disaster? You'll have a funny story to tell friends or the next person you meet up with. Try not to attach too many expectations – either to online dating or the people you meet - and just take things as they come. Do that, and you will enjoy the process of finding love so much more!