05/13/2013 04:02 pm ET Updated Jul 13, 2013

Dating With an Open Mind

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Life is too short to drink bad wine or weak coffee. However, I have no problem downing an occasional bag of stale Doritos. The point is, life is short. That is what kept running through my head each time I prepared to meet a new date. "Life is short," I would tell myself. What if I get there and he is fat, bald, stupid, too short, too tall, has wiry eyebrows or a high pitched voice, wears ironed jeans, laughs loud, chews with his mouth open, wears queer shoes, stares at my boobs, smells like Marlboros and Pabst, wears a thick gold chain or any combination of the above. Then I answered my own question with, "So what?"

Since my divorce several years ago, I am noticing more midlife couples around me jumping onto the "ending our marriage" bandwagon. We hit that kids are gone, midlife mark, and sit back and take a good, long look at each other. You look into that person's eyes and think, "If I hear you clear your throat one more time, I will jab a knife through your eye or throw myself from a bridge." We tell ourselves "life is short, I should be happier." Suddenly we find ourselves in divorce court, and before the dust has even settled, we are wandering around in our new rented condo, telling ourselves, "Now this is more like it," as we heat up a Lean Cuisine and watch Chopped marathons. Ahhhh, the good life.

Needless to say, it doesn't take long before we decide we miss the companionship of the opposite sex, and decide to get back out there. Here is where the life is short thing comes in and, I believe the problem starts. Don't go on these dates with the mindset that you are finding your next husband or wife. Go with the idea that it is a new adventure, with a new person, and if he has brown teeth it's OK because it is an hour out of your time, and maybe you will try that new drink you've been hearing about with the raspberry vodka.

I began dating with the attitude, "I hope he is promising, I don't want to waste my time." I found I would go on these dates, sit across from the gentleman, look at his face and in my mind immediately think, "Ugh, I could never marry you." I knew I couldn't just say, "I am so sorry, I can see you wear short sleeve dress shirts, so I just don't think this is going to work out." After a while, I realized it wouldn't kill me to get to know the person if only for the hour, learn about his life experience and find out why he is sitting across the table from a woman who obviously does not like bowling, and who is probably thinking, "Ugh, I could never marry you."

Guess what happened. I had fun! I made friends. I learned a lot from the male's perspective. One guy told me, "I went out on a date and there was only one problem. She was actually smarter than me." Warning to men: you may find this happens from time to time.

Dude. Seriously?

Sure I had some wild times, but you will have to wait for my book for the specifics. My kids read this, but I have never seen any of them actually read a book so it should be fine. Yes, I even had my heart broken a time or two, and probably caused a little heart break as well. It's all part of learning who you are now, and what you want in a partner, for this next phase in life.

I ask just one thing of you: don't settle. This is our chance to get it right. Go out, have fun, meet all types of people, be safe while doing it, but always have an open mind. More importantly get to know yourself! You have changed and most likely so have the traits you want in a partner. Take the time to learn who you are now. Girls, don't panic and grab the first penis that comes along. Trust me, they all have them. It's what's attached to them that matters. Men, yes I know... boobs. We all have them, look above them to find what it is that will truly make you happy.

Yes, life is short, so take the time to savor that Cabernet, lick the Dorito salt off your fingers, and get to know your date as an interesting person and possible friend, if not something more down the road. One more thing, just in case: Raspberry vodka, soda and twist of lime... to die for.