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Posted Tuesday, January 20, 2009, at 12:16 PM

You get to a certain point in your life when you're no longer willing to waste an entire evening on a bad date.

If you've been married for a while, you may have fond memories of your own dating days. For many of us, time erases all the times we were stood up, groped, bored to tears or dumped, and we're left with hazy recollections of how much fun it was to go out with someone new.

But ask anyone who's still out there, and you'll discover that dating has changed a lot since we disco-ed the night away wearing purple lycra and Bonnie Bell lip smacker.

Gone are the days when you had endless time and were willing to go on six (or sixty) bad dates in the hopes of trying to find a good one.

Now you've got a job, possibly kids, a metabolism that no longer tolerates French fries and you fall asleep at 9 p.m. if the conversation gets boring.

Let's face it; you're a grown-up.

And dating is totally different.

Lisa Daily, author of "How To Date Like a Grown-up," says, "When you're 20 or 30, you're looking outside yourself - you're trying to accomplish things, kick-start your career, define yourself. By the time you hit 40, you finally have a pretty good idea of who you are, and that changes everything."

The biggest challenge for female over-40 daters, Daily says, is "they feel like they can't compete with their 20-something counterparts, and they want to know where to meet nice available men that doesn't involve frat parties or bar stools."

It's a big, bad world out there now, filled with diseases that it takes more than penicillin to cure, and crazy stalkers with internet access.

Daily says she was motivated to write "How to Date Like a Grown-up" - subtitled "Everything You Need to Know to Get Out There, Get Lucky, or Even Get Married in Your 40's, 50's and Beyond" - after touring the country doing Dreamgirl Academies in conjunction with her first book "Stop Getting Dumped."

"I expected the women who attended to be in their 20s and 30s, and many were, but more than half were in their 40s, 50s and 60s."

These women often suffered from what Daily refers to as the "Invisible Woman Syndrome," the moment in time when you realize that you're off the radar for men; when they start to look through you instead of at you. It's disappointing when you're married, and downright depressing if you're trying to date.

But the good news, Daily says (www.DatingExpert.tv), is that women over 40 aren't off every man's radar, just the ones you probably don't want to date anyway. There's nothing wrong with being a skinny head-turning blonde (I used to be one myself), but many smart men over 40 want something more.

So how does one find one of these smart, available, non-shallow, non-stalker men? "How to Date Like a Grown-up" includes a chapter, "Mortuaries and Other Pick Up Joints," where Daily lists twenty-one such places, and includes descriptions of the "Six Degrees of Barbecue" technique and an explanation of why a jackhammer is a perfect ice-breaker at Habitat for Humanity projects.

Daily's main message for women over 40 is that they don't need to compete with 20-somethings; they're in a whole different league.

Bottom line: You're a grown-up, refuse to date anyone who's not one.

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Angst is in the air: Be careful it's catching
Lisa Earle McLeod
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I can't take any more. The economy is tanking, the election is endless, and now it looks like I might have to sell my blood if I want to keep my kids in mac 'n cheese. Oh, and did I mention that, thanks to falling house prices, I probably owe more on my home than it's actually worth? I want to go back to bed, pull the covers over my head and have somebody wake me up when my 401(k) bounces back. I don't know about you, but I'm finding myself so jittery about, well everything, that it's all I can do to surf the net. Kind of ironic, isn't it? I should be working more, but I'm so anxious about my finances that I'm actually working less. Alas, such is the world of grown-ups - stress, anxiety, depression. And to think that I wasted much of my childhood wishing I could be in charge of my own life. Why in the heck did I ever think that was a good idea? Give me a few cookies, a blankey and a nice place to lie down and I swear I'll never complain about an early bedtime again. These are tough times indeed. Even if you're still OK, you'd have to be one cold, hard, rich person to stay immune to all the angst in the air. So how do you cope? How do you get through today when you're so worried about tomorrow that you can't see straight? I overheard a news commentator say that people are thinking twice before they go out to eat or buy new clothes. I'm guessing that those are the people who still have jobs. Because the people without jobs aren't spending a nickel on anything except cheap carbs and keeping a roof over their heads. Yet as depressing as our collective and individual situations may be, the last thing we need to do is let our fear get the best of us. If you spend all day quaking and anxious, guess who wins? The fear. Yes, I know FDR had a roof over his head when he said "we have nothing to fear but fear itself," but he was right. Every moment you waste paralyzed with fear is a moment you could be doing something, or resting up so that you can do something tomorrow. It's been said that there are only two emotions, love and fear, and all the other emotions are derivatives of those. So I'd like to make a suggestion. Let's chose love. Let's decide to love each other and to love ourselves, no matter what happens. And if you're really a Pollyanna, perhaps you'll join me in deciding to love the fact that this crisis is serving as a call for us to become our better selves; a call for us to look within and rid ourselves of consumerism, greed and the need to keep up with the Jones; and a call for us to have more empathy for those who are struggling. Maybe this is a chance for all of us - and I include myself - to decide that we love our country and we love our fellow human beings more than we love our stuff. Yeah, I know it sounds hokey. But you don't change your circumstances until you change the thoughts that created them. Cowering under the covers in fear may feel safer. But in a crisis, the truly powerful response is love. (c) Copyright 2008, by Lisa Earle McLeod. All rights reserved. Lisa Earle McLeod is a keynote speaker, author and nationally syndicated columnist. Her books include "Forget Perfect" and "Finding Grace When You Can't Even Find Clean Underwear." Contact her at www.ForgetPerfect.com.