It can make you nervous, but you have everything to gain in looking for love later in life

So you’ve been out of the game for a while.


Maybe you were married, maybe you have been busy raising kids or maybe you were looking into becoming one with the universe. Either way you have now made a choice to start the intriguing, sometimes painful and often highly entertaining path of looking for a new partner in the online dating world.   Thing is, you may be older and wiser now but it still feels like you have never dated before in your life. For some of our more mature denizens, that may even be true – different times, different traditions!


Whether dipping your toes into the pool for the first time or after an extended break from relationships, it doesn’t have to be the scary rip tide you are expecting. Instead, let yourself approach it as you would a holiday. Let yourself relax, and get ready to try new things.


People always say that by the time you are older you have discovered what and who you like, you know more about yourself than you ever did before and you are more confident in every aspect of your life. This could be true, but I defy anyone not to feel at least a slight twinge of nervousness before embarking on a new date, or even submitting a profile to Free and Single for the first time!


However, I would encourage you to enjoy the nervous flutters, to let yourself be excited and to discover whether you and your date have chemistry, are going to end up just friends or whether you just downright loathe each other on sight! After all, at the end of the day its another tale to add to your story and the anecdote, good or bad, will make for fabulous retelling at a dinner party or reunion event.


Excellent, having decided to take the leap, lets discuss venues. Dinner a deux is a classic of course, but a tad extreme if you are really nervous to put yourself right into the conversational gambit mode! May I suggest an activity to ensure a topic to talk about should all else fail you? You could visit a vineyard or a cidery and have a tasting, you could visit an aquarium to point at strange underwater creatures and shudder at sharks or you could hire vespas and take a tour of the town before stopping at a roadside inn to discuss the views and the people you passed.


I’m a big fan of alternative dates where imagination is key and just letting yourself enjoy it comes first, so put those thinking caps on! I’d love to hear your ideas too, so please tweet me @freeandsingle and have a look at Free and Single Parent or Mature Free and Single to find others in similar positions.

That most hackneyed of days is upon us again. Valentine’s Day, where we randomly celebrate the martyrdom of St Valentine, who was stoned, beaten and beheaded for marrying Christian couples at a time when Christianity was most definitely bad for your life expectancy.


Whether you find yourself single, in a relationship or somewhere in-between, February 14th has always had a mysterious hold over people. The onset of the presents and proclamations of love ideology has merely opened the doors to feeling rather forced the have a romantic day mid-way through the shortest month of the year.


Well, be you one of those who applaud or disregard V’Day, the point remains moot – what to do? Do you head out to dinner à deux with your sweetie, smug in the knowledge that you have a ‘special someone’ to share food with? Do you laugh in the face of tradition, grab your mates and go out on the pull? Do you attempt to ignore the entire thing only to find yourself dripping ice cream on the duvet at 2am while watching Sex and the City?


Here’s the thing – Valentine’s Day isn’t going anywhere. It makes too much money for the card companies, heck, it could single-handedly restore the economy if more people felt a little love this year. So, for once, how about waiving the disgruntled arguments about ‘cheap tack’ and how roses are rubbish anyway? Why not grab someone, anyone – be they mates, mums, crushes, acquaintances or random strangers and head out on a date? I’m not talking mushy, I’m talking using the day for your own ends and having an experience to remember.


In the hope that you will take my sage advice to heart, I’m including in my next post a little go-to list of all the places I would go Valentine’s Day if I could but replicate myself to be in more than one place at once.


However, should that list fail you and you actually live in the official middle of nowhere, may I suggest grabbing the first 5 people in your Facebook Timeline and getting them all over for a good dinner, some dancing and a few naff party games – remember the one where you had to dress up and complete an obstacle course? Rename it ‘Get Date Ready’ and come up with the most horrific looks you can for each other. Send us some pictures when you’re done!