Dating: From your 20s to your 50s

Apr 24, 2013 at 6:00 a.m. ET

The pursuit of love at any age can be daunting and heartbreaking. As we age, we gain perspective, wisdom and emotional maturity that help us determine what we want out of love.

couple on date

Because, honey, the rules change dramatically when you’re 50 from when you were 20 years old.

"Love is a battlefield" — Pat Benatar was an insightful lady. From the moment our hormones start raging at a young age, concepts of love, dating and sex tend to consume the mind. When we first enter the dating pool, it is exhilarating and scary. As social creatures, we observe and make judgments, which ultimately help us decide if the other person is worthwhile.

Life presents various milestones, and as we age, the dynamics and our environments will vary. You will note that dating at age 50 is nothing like when you were 25, as your priorities and tastes will have changed. That young, hot-tempered, beer-guzzling hockey player who smashes beer cans on his forehead might not be a suitable match for a mature and sophisticated woman of 55. So to avoid obvious mismatch, here's how you can find love at any age.

Dating in your 20s

You: Whether you are a fresh-faced college or university coed or are already left to your own devices to navigate your 20s, Girls is a watered-down version of your life.

Your priorities: This is your time of exploration, inhibition, no regrets, struggle and mistakes (read: many). Own your youth. If you are in a college or university setting, your dating pool is the largest it probably ever will be. Find out your likes and dislikes from potential mates, and take note. To avoid disappointment, always keep communication open and honest, whether the relationship is serious or just for fun. So go forth, and enjoy yourself!

Dating in your 30s

You: By your late 20s and into your 30s, you will have probably established yourself in your desired career path. You are a working woman trying to strike a balance between your personal life and finding real love. At the same time, friends start to marry off and begin to have babies, which add to the dynamic. The biological clock is ticking, and you spent most of your 20s having fun. Now it's time to try to settle down. Admit it: You totally identify with Sex and the City.

Your priorities: The dynamics have shifted dramatically, as your dating pool has shrunk significantly since you left the college or university setting. By now you know who you are and what you want. Potential new interests tend to be from random encounters, colleagues, interest groups, mutual friends or even online dating. Since this is dating for a serious commitment, it is best to be realistic and honest with your potential partner to avoid any disappointment or misunderstanding, especially in terms of marriage and children.

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Dating in your 40s and 50s

You: It could be that you still haven't found the one to sweep you off your feet or this is your second chance. Think of it as a rediscovery, as you are more self-aware and focused on your needs.

Your priorities: Reflect positively on your life, achievements, career, family, children (if applicable) and any blessings. When you reflect positively and channel this positive energy, it engages others around you, especially potential partners. Get involved with the community, whether it is through interest groups or organizations, as this will help you get out and about. You never know who might be standing just around the corner.

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