An older but not necessarily wiser dater

Dear Dating Coach-

After a 20 year relationship, I'm now a newly single guy who is also new to the area where I live. Therefore, I have several questions that relate to meeting and dating. Here goes: How do I overcome my anxiety about dating? How do I start meeting eligible women with whom I have things in common? How do I judge compatibility and interest? How do I learn to write that first email in order to get a positive response from someone I meet online? How do I graciously tell a woman I'm not interested? I struggle with guilt over doing this.

I think that covers it for now. I hope you can help. --Emotional High Schooler

Dear Emotional High Schooler--

To begin with, take a few slow, deep breaths. Now, doesn't that feel better?

The answers to your questions are all closely related and they will involve slowing down and tuning in--two things that anxiety and eagerness will thwart. Therefore, you are correct in asking about anxiety, but not just the kind you feel when you want to approach a woman. Being newly single after being in a long term relationship feels like being back in high school, all awkward limbs and words--and feeling as though everyone but you is experienced in dating.

Once you get started, it's like getting back on that bike or horse--a familiar feeling washes over you and suddenly you realize you know the right moves but are just a little rusty. The best way to answer your questions is to take them as more of a whole than as individual problems to be mastered.

At first, you will feel a general anxiousness that dissipates with time and exposure. In other words, as momentum gains, it takes care of itself. You will meet and be more comfortable with women you have something in common with and who you encounter in settings that are comfortable and familiar to you. If you have a particular passion like a sport, hobby or other interest, pursue it. Along the way, you will meet like-minded and compatible people of both sexes who you will relate and communicate more easily with around this shared activity. If there is good potential for compatibility it will be highlighted--and it will be more comfortable for both of you to show interest towards one another. I wrote a detailed article on this topic and you can find it here

Your last question clues me to the possibility that you have been planning to use internet dating as your primary tool for meeting women. It's certainly something that is useful to pursue, but I wouldn't recommend it as the only way, due to the disadvantages that come with meeting folks virtually. In order to be a more successful internet dater, you will first need to write the kind of profile that attracts compatible women whom you would be interested in and who would reciprocate that interest. Then you need to write emails that help to move the connection along and eventually help with a transition to that first face to face meeting. There has been a good amount written on this topic by experts like me. Here are a few of my pieces that could help you with this. You can find them on-

Lastly, think of this as more of a marathon that a sprint. You want to get it right and find that someone who is a good fit and could be the partner you desire. Isn't that worth slowing down for and putting a little extra time into?

(from September 2012)

Want to read other columns on this subject?

"Cramming for that first date"
List of more
"Help With Dating"

This is the last "Help With Dating" column.


Toni Coleman, LCSW
Phone: 703-847-1768


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