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When it comes to dating, relax, pay attention and be yourself.

For years I wondered if there was some new way to go about dating; some secret approach that no one had discovered yet. But alas, the older I get, the less I'm inclined to believe in such secrets.

One thing I've learned, however, is that the dating "basics" are still the same as when women were "foxy," and men were "fine" (and if you're unfamiliar with those terms, you're definitely not over 40. But stick around, you might learn something anyway.)

When it comes to dating, the three principles are: 1) relax, 2) pay attention and 3) be yourself.

In my opinion, most people set the bar far too high when it comes to dating. C'mon, it's not that serious. It's supposed to be FUN!

So, here are some tips for those of you who are just getting out of a marriage and haven't got a clue (or for those of you who are over 40, single and have never had a clue):

  • Relax
    I can't over-emphasize this enough. Take a tip from the "younger" set and "just chill." Don't look at your date as the answer to all of your problems — your ills, shortcomings, things you didn't get as a child, things you did get and want to keep getting, or any other entitlements on your list. Rather, enjoy your date's company and look at the experience as a chance to make a new friend, or to be enlightened on a subject you knew little about before the date. Because at this stage of the game it means nothing, and therefore nothing should be read into the experience. Period.

  • Pay Attention...
    ...From the first date to whatever transpires over the next few months. Remember, even though you're still "chilling," if you've gotten past the first few dates, it's time to show the other person you are sincere about getting to know them. Let's stop right here and think about that phrase (go back and say it out loud if you need to)...OK, now ask yourself, did you really get to know the person during those first few dates, or were you concentrating on your needs again and what you want and expect? This is where many of us get into trouble — especially women.

    Avoid tunnel-vision: 1) how much money he makes, 2) what kind of car he drives, 3) how he dresses, and keep an open mind about his potential as a mate (if that's what you're looking for) based on what you've learned about him already.

    This openness can spare you from wasting time in dead-end relationships, because you'll find out all you need to know about the person simply by listening to him and observing his actions.

    Up Next
    I've heard so many horror stories from women and men who didn't pay attention and missed those all-important clues that told them it was time to move on. And believe me, you know what those clues are — that funny feeling in your gut that tells you something isn't quite right.

  • Be Yourself
    I know you've heard this before, but if you still find yourself acting weird on a date, then you've not been heeding this warning. Keep in mind that the other person is nervous too; it's natural. Meeting a complete stranger (or if a friend introduced you, a once-removed-complete-stranger) can make anyone uncomfortable. By being relaxed and acting natural, you can help your date do the same.

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