It is important to think about what kind of relationship you are interested in
When I set out to write my new book The Ultimate Guide to 21st Century Dating, I was interested in our age group, the 50+ generation of men and women who now find themselves facing up to their third age with more than a little fear and confusion at heart.
My book looks at the whole scene of dating - how anyone from late 20s upwards copes, and at the amazing variety of options. It can be bewildering and scary. But of course it's also likely to be fun and might lead to an exciting change in your life.
What sort of dating is out there?
The most widespread method of finding potential partners or dates is via internet dating. Just as we use the internet to search for things to buy, trying to meet interesting people, to fall in love or even for sex, has become normal now.
You're not alone in your singleness. Some six million single people signed up for a form of dating service this past year in the UK. That figure nearly doubled from the previous year. Even better news, the 50+ group is the fastest growing sector.
What is known as 'offline' or 'organic' dating - a chance meeting with someone face to face - is still popular but might be more challenging.
Speed dating tends to have as its cut-off age - 45 for women, 49 for men - though many in their 50s sneak under the wire.
Other kind of icebreaker events such as dinner dating, dance dating, lock and key parties, even wine tasting, are mostly aimed at the 27-45 year olds.
Traditional introduction agencies close the doors at women over 45 and men over 50.
But don't be dismayed, there are outlets with doors that are ever open!
What dating type are you?
Do you find walking into a crowded room, with the aim to meet other singles, unnerving? Shyness probably affects more of us than we realise. It can be easy to talk to other people in the comfort zone of a group of friends or colleagues. But it's amazing how rapidly self-esteem vanishes if we are not in work, nor in a permanent relationship.
The internet actually helps those who find offline dating adventures too nightmarish. Online dating allows you to write about yourself, put up your photo, read others' profiles, scan through their photos, make the first tentative steps to greet someone, exchange 'hellos' via email, perhaps talk on the phone first. A lot can take place between two people before you even think of arranging a meeting.
What kind of person or relationship are you looking for?
This really is the big question you need to ask yourself. Personality type profiling has become an important part of some internet dating sites, making the process far more interesting than checking boxes of likes and dislikes. Spend some time thinking about the type of person, and personality, you find most attractive.
Are you really keen to meet someone who will become a permanent partner in your life? Are you looking for love and romance again? If you're not convinced, but would like to meet up with the opposite sex, there are networks welcoming divorced, widowed and mature singles for activities and social events.
Some tips on how to test out the dating world
If you're looking for love, commitment and a real partnership, then pay for one of the more serious online dating sites. Look at the quality newspapers' sites, your target market will be their readership. If friendship and companionship is more important to you, then look for social networks that encourage you to join groups for trips to the theatre, walks, dancing, or holidays, rather than focus on one-to-one dating. Speed dating can be fun if you can find one that suits your age group.
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