After my divorce, my dating skills were very rusty. I didn’t have a clue where to meet good quality men on the older dating scene, or how to flirt when I met them. When you’ve been married for decades, you forget how to build attraction, when and when not to call, and even what people talk about on the first date.

A close friend advised me that singles like me were just a few clicks away, also on the same mature dating journey I was about to embark on, so I began looking for advice from other women online, and stocked up on how-to dating tips from the dating gurus in preparation.

There’s a whole lot of useful advice for women when it comes to mature dating and meeting the man of your dreams. Here are five lessons that helped me make the most of online dating:

Test drive

Remember that the point of dating is to explore your options, browse around and communicate with lots of people. Mature dating is a sensory smorgasbord and a mutual job interview; enjoy the variety. Remember that you’re checking out your potential mate’s credentials, and there’s no obligation to hire someone today. You may be disappointed if a special connection doesn’t pan out, but there’s no need for recrimination and regret. Just be grateful you found out early on. Take the bumpy road in your stride and drive on.

You’re special…

Believe it. Express this confidence by taking good care of yourself physically, mentally and emotionally. Show it in everything from your willingness to smile at strangers, to the positive and honest information you put into your profile.

…but not that special

When you’ve been away from the dating world for a while, any attention may seem seductive. Keep in mind that sweet words and thoughtful gestures can be short-lived. As much as you’d like to, don’t assume that you’re his one-and-only just because he’s coming on strong. Mature dating isn’t very different from your dating past, and men find lots of women attractive.

You can’t create chemistry.

Wear flattering outfits, choose hairstyles that make you look pretty and, if you want, get your teeth bleached. But if you put your best face forward and the object of your affection makes it clear that he doesn’t find you romantically stimulating, move on. The most self-destructive thing you can do — ever — is campaign to change his mind. Your energy is best spent elsewhere.

Time is on your side.

There’s a lot of wisdom in treating each phase of dating differently. It’s impossible to discern someone’s true character in a week. Before you commit yourself, browse lots of profiles, meet a variety of singles and enjoy exploring. When it’s appropriate, let one special relationship develop and deepen over time. Hindsight will reveal whether it really was true love at first sight. Mature dating shouldn’t make you feel under time pressure; a long meaningful relationship is going to be a hugely important part of your future, so take as long as it takes to get it right, and enjoy the ride.

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