Are You Over 50 But Dating Like You're 20?

04/12/2013 05:16 pm ET | Updated Jun 12, 2013

Dating for most of us over 50 isn't particularly easy to do. In our wonder years, we didn't actually date that much. More often than not, in high school and college, we hung out and sort of fell into relationships.

Looking back, it seems like it was so easy. The pool of available singles was huge back then, and even for those of us who were not the toned cheerleaders or broad-shouldered football captains, there were plenty of attractive people we wanted to get to know.

We found someone we liked, became a couple and before long, we were getting married and planning to be together forever. Unfortunately, forever didn't last for many in our generation. Here we are, 30 plus years later, and we're single again in record numbers.

Now that we are back in bachelorette- or bachelorhood, we have pictures in our heads of who is out there waiting for us. After all, part of what drove many of us back to the dating market was the vision of a better, more fulfilled life.

I've had men tell me they are looking for a woman who never tells them what to do. Oh, and they would like her to be attractive too, of course.

Women, many of whom have had to put romance on the backburner for decades focused on career and family, often want that handsome man who's going to sweep them off their feet.

So we go online, excited to see who's waiting for us, and what do we find?

Women are flooded with pictures of men who look just like our grandfathers with grey thinning hair, a belly and a boatload of baggage. It's jarring, and begins to feel as though no one is out there. They all look too old. It's easier to quit dating altogether and spend more time with girlfriends.

Men usually take the opposite approach. They go for gorgeous woman and either get rejected right and left, or find women who are just as demanding as their ex-wives were. It feels to them as if every woman has turned into a post-menopausal b*tch.

The reality is we've all changed in those three decades. None of us are the cheerleader or the football captain anymore. We all have baggage. And looking for the pictures in our head of who we think is out there is living in a fantasy land.

When men write in their online dating profiles, "I want a petite woman who is blonde, loves dogs and has an executive job," and when women write, "I want a man with the money to take me to expensive restaurants and if you don't have this salary, don't contact me," I wonder if they want to date anyone at all. Narrowing the dating market down with such constrictions actually eliminates the market altogether.

That applies at any age, but especially as we get older, it is to our advantage to consider the broad qualities that we would like to share with a partner.

At 20, shared chemistry was about the only quality that mattered with a potential date. Fast-forwarding 30 years, chemistry is great for the purpose of attraction. After that, it's the friendship built into a relationship that will withstand the test of time. Common activities, lifestyles and respect are much more valuable than initial spark.

There is one thing about the way we dated in our teens and twenties that is worth repeating today. Back then, we didn't need perfection and we surely didn't seek it out on the first date. We hung out, got to know each other and then decided whether we'd like to pursue a relationship.

Let's relive our youth by giving more men and woman out there a chance. Leave the rest of it back in the 70's.

Lisa Copeland is the Dating Coach who makes finding love after 50 fun and easy. Learn more at