02/10/2015 06:36 am ET Updated Apr 12, 2015

A Widower's 9 Tips For Getting Back Into The Dating Game ... After 28 Years Of Marriage

When High50's Gord Smiley found himself single after losing his wife of 28 years, he thought dating again would be daunting. But he got in shape, learned to listen and took up skiing -- and says it worked

After 28 years of marriage, I found myself exactly where I didn't think I would be ... alone. My wife and I met when we were both in our early 20s, married a few years later and started building our lives together.

Suddenly, in my 50s, I'm now alone. My wife fought a two-and-a-half year war against cancer, but in the end it simply overwhelmed her. As a family, we were devastated.

My choices were simple. Sink into a deep, lengthy depression or start living again. I thankfully decided the latter and that meant, at least in part, meeting women. Not just for friendship, but to develop a relationship, sexually and emotionally. But to get there and do that meant dating. Yes, gulp, dating.

In our 50s we carry a lot more baggage, or luggage, or life experience. It all amounts to the same thing, and it's how you deal with that's important.

If you're going to start dating in what some call life's 'third quarter' here are a few basic tips to help. I should say up front I feel as good in my 50s as I did in my 30s. I still have a ton of energy, I'm excited about life and I think it's fun to meet new people. Anyway, here's what I found useful on my quest.

Be Honest

If you tend to exaggerate your worth in the world, embellish, tell tall tales or generally string a line of B.S. then women will see right through you. Women are incredibly intuitive and in all likelihood have put up with someone like you -- and are not likely to do it again.

Here's a fail safe solution: just be honest, it works every time. Tell her your interests, what your children are like. Tell her about your career highlights and lowlights. Just be ready to come clean because she will know immediately if you're not who you say you are.

Get In Shape

In our 50s, our metabolism slows down and our ability to gain weight increases. I have always been a runner, hitting the streets three to five times a week, but never accomplishing much more than five to eight kilometers at a stretch.

So I made a renewed commitment to running, watched what I ate and cut down on my alcohol consumption. It won't take long for you to notice some results, but you're going to have to stick with it. Remember, you want to present yourself as in shape and active. Everyone has a few pounds to lose, that's entirely understandable, but you're going to have to make an effort.

Pay Attention And Be A Gentleman

Listen to what she has to tell you. Get to know her and find out her story, where she comes from, what she does for a living, her likes and dislikes.

Especially listen to what she says about her family. I'm looking for a woman has a great relationship with her children and her parents, so I want to know about her family trips, traditions and their love for one another.

Any sign of a dysfunctional family could be a red flag, so pay attention. Also listen for conversation about her ex-husband/boyfriend. You're trying to get to know one another, not each other's ex.

And remember your manners -- always pay for dinner, with no expectations. It's the gentlemanly thing to do.

Learn to cook

As your relationship progresses you'll want to start spending more time at each other's place. She may cook for you and vice-versa.

Find out some of her favorite dishes. Don't try to reinvent the wheel, just follow the recipe and leave yourself good time prior to her arrival to prepare.

She will love that you went out of your way to cook regardless of how well the meal turned out. The point here is you made the effort!

Other Quick Dating Tips

Clean up, get a shave and a haircut. Buy some new clothes, develop a fashion sense.

Cut down on the alcohol, learn something about wine and enjoy it.

Try something new. It'll help you meet new people as well as have something interesting to talk about. I took up downhill skiing, which scared me to death, but I did it and it's actually kind of fun now.

Buy a new aftershave: smell good and look good

Make sure above all else, you have fun.

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Earlier on Huff/Post50:

Where To Meet Singles Over 50