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'The Later Dater' offers tips for women over 50 re-entering modern singles scene

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TORONTO - Dating is daunting at any age, but particularly so for individuals approaching their golden years who find themselves suddenly single following the end of their marriage or death of their spouse.

In her new e-book "The Later Dater," relationship expert Valerie Gibson seeks to help women aged 50 and up to ease their transition back into the singles scene. She described the book as a "natural progression" from "Cougar," her guide for older women seeking younger men.

"Women nowadays of 50, 60 and 70 are not the yesteryear women of that age group. They're not settling back and saying: 'I'm too old for this,'" Gibson said in a recent interview. "A lot of the boomer women won't accept what they've been indoctrinated with over the years ... whether it's about health issues or social issues or sexual issues — and I think that is the good thing.

"People are beginning to understand that these vital, active, good-looking, attractive, fit, healthy women should be meeting someone if they so want to."

Mature women who are wading into the modern-day dating pool will find an environment that's likely quite different from when they last took the plunge, particularly with the emergence of online dating.

Gibson devotes an entire chapter in the book to the subject, and writes that while it can be "frustrating, expensive and a minefield of misrepresentation," there isn't another method that can connect later daters with other singles in their preferred age range as successfully.

Gibson said prospective daters should also approach the process as they would a job search in terms of how they package or market themselves as well as how they research potential avenues for dating, like online sites. She writes that an image update can be a confidence and self-esteem booster, whether it's new clothes, a fresh hairstyle or kickstarting a new diet and fitness regimen. Those feeling shy or uncertain about posting a photo online, for example, may want to seek out the advice of an image consultant for suggestions, she noted.

Gibson also writes that a good initial tip is for women to accept every invitation they receive to a social event. Attending a party, business function or charity event will help them not only to learn or enhance their skills of being in a social setting and mingling with guests, but to enjoy their time out — even when they're alone, she added.

She offers a breakdown in the book of general types of men that later daters may encounter, citing divorced and separated men as the largest category of single men they'll meet.

Gibson also offers advice on considerations to make when dating a widower. She recalled her own experience with a man who wanted to "have fun" in the bedroom, but she was uncomfortable with the presence of photos of his wife "looking at us."

If the widower can't be convinced through "gentle, caring persuasion" to put the past behind them and adjust in a new relationship, Gibson writes that it may be "wise to reconsider the relationship and find someone else."

"Generally speaking, widowers say: '(My wife) was the most wonderful thing in my life.' And that is very hard to overcome because he's measuring you all the time," she said.

"Yes, it can be difficult, but in my experience, widowers are one of the best dates to have a relationship with because they know marriage, they understand marriage, they're loyal...There's all those pluses."

Gibson encouraged women to "explore the world of meeting men again," and to do their part to ensure they're fun and interesting while sharing their company.

"Don't go on and on about your dreadful exes and your divorces ... all those are terrible things. But I think dating should be a lighthearted, upbeat thing — at least initially — for as long as you can keep it that way."

Follow @lauren_larose on Twitter.



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