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Advice for 50-Something Women Looking to Date

04/15/2014 05:48 EDT | Updated 06/15/2014 05:59 EDT

The latest Bridget Jones novel, Mad About the Boy, has a widowed-with-two-small-kids Bridget back in the dating market. In true chick-lit fashion, she somehow gets a young hot man despite all of her insecurities/foibles. But the reality of dating is it's mostly a drudge and it doesn't help that many 50-something women are too picky when it comes to a potential mate.

Dating after 50 has its own set of challenges

There is something incredibly vulnerable when your 50-something and thrust out into the dating market, now having to put your best foot forward to meet someone and knowing you are setting yourself up for a lot of possible rejection. If you read comments posted by both men and women on dating sites, it's clear many are just plain bitter.

The biggest challenge for the over 50 group is that many have been in long-term relationships and haven't dated for years; they need to learn how to date all over again. It's a terrifying prospect for them to get naked and intimate with someone new.

50-somethings mostly use online dating

The days of meeting at the disco are gone. January has the biggest uptake of people joining online dating sites. There are roughly 30 million unique users, or about 10 per cent of the U.S. population, visit dating sites every month. And many people are willing to pay a hefty sum for a chance to meet their perfect match.

The fastest-growing segment is baby boomers; in fact, 16 per cent of online daters are over 50. One popular online dating site had 50-something users spike 173 per cent in the past year.

It's difficult for 50-somethings to be brave in the dating world

According to psychologists at UPenn, most people say they know within the first three seconds if they want to go to bed with someone; however, knowing whether they want to date them is a lot more complicated.

It's not breaking news to say it is incredibly difficult to meet someone with whom you share a chemistry. So dating is about having the internal fortitude to "kiss a lot of frogs" before meeting your dream match.

There are a lot of problems associated with online dating. According to a survey global research company, over half of online daters lie on their profiles. Plus those dating sites that pride themselves on the wizardry of their algorithms cannot screen for jerks.

As well, it is far too easy to pick apart a potential mate based upon some small point in their profile. Like she's a football fan but does not like hockey.

It is more challenging for women over 50 to meet a potential mate

One eHarmony article stated: "the odds are not in favor of ladies...and the man-to-woman ratio is lopsided. Some statistics show that for every man over 50, there are up to 5 women; over 60, ten women, and so on."

A big complaint from 50-something women is they have a hard time finding dateable men their age because the 50-something men are looking to date 30-year-olds. Although I have no evidence my anecdotal observations would say it's true.

However, as the upsurge of cougar movement shows, it's a lot more common for 50-something women to have a no-strings-attached fling with a younger man. So that field is leveling out.

Women don't think they are picky and yet...

There is definitely a gap in a how women think about their dating life. Today's woman is financially independent and isn't looking for someone to provide for her and it makes sense that she doesn't want to settle for just anyone.

The irony is women say they don't know why men their age aren't interested in them -- that she has realistic expectations about a potential man.

But digging deeper, studies show that women have really high expectations in a possible mate. Some of women's biggest turn-offs when dating include: farting/burping (do people really do this on a date?), unkempt cuticles, nose hair, bad taste in eyeglasses, bad hair, acne, "man boobs" and if their date is missing a tooth. Men who mentioned sexual details in their profiles and who are grammatically challenged.

Also women have a higher need to keep her personal finances and independence -- which, to me, means she isn't as interested in a 'partnership'. Ninety-three per cent of women report much higher needs of personal space; 77 per cent of women wanted to keep her bank account separate in a serious relationship.

Study suggests women take longer to fall for someone; men know as soon as the third dates; whereas women take 14 dates to know. Interestingly, that's about the same time most couples exchange keys to each other's homes: between the 12th and 14th date.

Best dating advice for those over 50

Too many 50-somethings, men and women, are terrified of getting back into the dating game, hanging back and doing nothing. While it's true if you don't do anything, nothing bad will happen -- no disappointment, no heartbreak. However, nothing good happens either.

Just have to make sure not to have unrealistic Bridget Jones' expectations about the dating world.