News flash: According to AARP, almost 50% of people over 50 are single.

While I’ve been married for over 20 years (to the same man), many of my mid-life friends are divorced or widowed and are thinking about tip toeing back into the sometimes scary world of dating.

But, to put it gently . . . they’re rusty.

Let’s take my friend Judy. She still thinks she needs to find someone who’s “ideal” based on her notions of what “ideal” was when she was dating 30 years ago. “He has to be good at hiking, dislike dogs, love cats, and be over six feet,” she told me recently. “Oh, and not have kids.”

Okay, then.

Or, what about another friend who is so confident that someone will simply fall into her lap, so to speak, she pooh-poohs online dating, telling people she’s looking, or putting herself in situations where she might increase her chances of meeting men.

Good luck to you, matey.

As a life-long busy body and self-appointed “fixer,” I contacted a dating coach to find out how I could help women get back into the dating game successfully, and without the angst.

Bobbi Palmer, founder of Date Like a GrownUp, gave me an earful about what she’s seeing out there.

“They’re paralyzed!” Bobbi exclaimed on the phone. She was referring to the many women who seek her help in getting back to dating after decades of being in long term relationships. It’s the classic “deer in the headlights” phenomenon, she said. Even the most successful and confident women she meets become anxious and insecure when they think about dating again.

Bobbi is on a mission, though, to help women get back out there by giving them the right tools to get over their “silly stuff,” find dates, and have some fun! And, for goodness sakes, isn’t having fun a big part of life after 50?

Here’s a short Skype conversation I had with Bobbi during which she shared her best tips for getting back into the dating game.

Bobbi also told me what she thinks are the 5 biggest mistakes women in midlife make about love and dating:

  1. We don’t cherish who we are now: Don’t view yourself through the lens of the 18-year old you were 20 or 30 years ago. You’re not that woman now. You’re better, stronger, smarter and more fabulous in every way. Love who you are now, and the right person will, too.
  2. We don’t step outside our comfort zones: Maybe you were comfortable with the man you were married to for decades and now you’re looking for the same thing. But, if you do that, you might miss out on giving some wonderful potential dates an opportunity. Open your mind, and spread your net.
  3. We don’t have a plan: Too many women, for whatever reason, don’t strategize how they will meet people to date. Some really believe men will simply fall out of the sky. The good news is there are great options: online dating, classes, social events, and social media should all have a place in your dating toolkit. And don’t forget to get the word out: let everyone know you’re interested in dating again.
  4. We don’t understand grown up men: It’s true, Bobbi says. We still think men are like those 20- or 30-something year olds we dated before getting married. It’s time to rethink men. They’ve grown up and learned from life experiences, just like you. Don’t underestimate them.
  5. We don’t know how to present ourselves online: We have to engage, not just report. To do that, talk about yourself with stories, not lists of accomplishments or adjectives. And whatever you do, don’t lie!

And here’s my addition to Bobbi’s excellent list: get help. Talk to a professional dating or relationship coach about how to put your best foot forward.

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