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Preparing to date again

September 14, 2000

Preparing to date again

see also: The social scene


If middle age has brought with it the opportunity to date again, get ready. There's a culture shock waiting.

"The social skills have changed, particularly for the women," said Wendee Mason, a personal coach in San Diego.

Many women 45 and older have been programmed not to make the first move, Mason said, but now it's considered OK for them to do so. It's acceptable to extend their hand first to introduce themselves, call first or initiate communication through e-mail.

And many men are happy to take a more passive role in the early stages of dating.

"Men are tired of taking the risk," Mason said.

A few things haven't changed.

One is the need to use common sense.

"You have to be at ease with what you're doing on a date," said Bernie, a Hagerstown resident and member of the board for Alternative to the Bar Scene, a Hagerstown singles group. "If it doesn't feel right, you just don't do it."

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For those re-entering the singles scene, another factor has remained constant: The risk of feeling foolish and being humiliated.

People have to be willing to stick with it, said Mason, who trains people how to work through dating stumbling blocks in her DateSmart workshops.

Before they take the first step into the unknown territory of the singles scene, however, middle-aged singles need to know who they are and what they want from a relationship.

Do they want a monogamous relationship without living together or getting married? Do they want to date several people? Do they want to remarry?

"Get to know yourself," Mason said.

Meg H. Partington, Staff Writer

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