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Life Kit: Dating Over 50

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

If you are 50 or older and single again after a divorce or the end of a long relationship, you might be thinking about dating and feeling anxious. But it's OK. NPR's Life Kit has some tips for how to ease your reentry into the dating scene. Here's Tanya Ballard Brown.

TANYA BALLARD BROWN, BYLINE: After I divorced, the thought of dating again scared me. It turns out my reaction isn't all that unusual. Relationship expert Susan Winter says fear is part of the process.

SUSAN WINTER: You're not good at something you haven't practiced in ages.

BROWN: And you also need to do some self-reflection.

WINTER: You probably don't want what you wanted 10 years ago, 15, 20 years ago. If you're leaving a long-term marriage, you may want a committed relationship but maybe want it designed in an entirely different way of doing it.

BROWN: Now, if you hated dating the last go-round and are wondering if you can just fast-forward through that part, professional dating coach Bela Gandhi has this reality check.

BELA GANDHI: You need to date to get to the love. It's kind of like saying, I'd really like to get the medal for having run a marathon, but I don't want to run that marathon thing.

BROWN: Gandhi, who owns Smart Dating Academy, says you'll want to use dating apps, but be tactical.

GANDHI: What I want you to do is have what I call a daily dating routine. I don't want this to be a second, third or fourth job for you. I want you to think about this strategically. Have a plan, and be proactive about it. Build in 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the evening to do something to take some small steps to get your dating life to the next step.

BROWN: And if you're wondering how, when or even if you should explain why you're back on the market, Winter, the relationship expert, says, first, shake off any shame you might feel about being divorced. But how do you talk about a failed marriage?

WINTER: Oh, I hate that word - that it worked until it didn't work. There is no such thing as a failed marriage. You changed, and you grew. But it worked until it didn't work. It's so unfair that we're not given credit for all the years that we did.

BROWN: Winter says, save this conversation until you are several dates in. But have an idea of how you want to answer it.

WINTER: It's really wise to have a prepared and curated comment that defines, to the best of your ability, what actually happened. But it has to be real. Do it in advance. Don't think you can wing it. Really think about it.

BROWN: If the dating process gets overwhelming, take the pressure off of yourself and relax.

GANDHI: Just tell yourself, I'm going to get myself out there, and I'm going to meet a lot of interesting people and make some friends. And I'm going to have fun with this.

WINTER: Listen here, three little words - the possibility exists.

BROWN: Indeed, it does. For NPR News, I'm Tanya Ballard Brown. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.