Talia* had been dating since she was 20 years old and finally found her husband at 45; Ricki found her husband after a broken engagement, a huge change in lifestyle and approach to dating, and many plane rides at the age of 37; Sarah didn't know how she'd find her husband, coming from a traditional background while working toward a career as a doctor. During a frank, open discussion, these women offered practical advice from their years of challenging dating. Here are their top five lessons.
1. Be Self-Centered!
Being single is a great opportunity to improve one's self as an individual. Rather than being detrimentally self-centered, work on being the best YOU you can possibly be. Sarah admits how much she had to grow over her eight years of dating for marriage in order to maturely choose her husband. "I realized that life is all about improving yourself. The more you work on yourself, the better your destined match will be."
In a similar vein, Ricki jokes, "The attitude is not like: ‘Hey, where is my husband? Give him to me.' Life is true work -- nothing is guaranteed."
Marriage is seen by many as a bond that secures one's place in society, but as a single don't forget your importance as an individual in society. During her 25 years of dating Talia did not allow herself to get depressed. Instead she occupied herself with giving to her family and community while working on her career as a therapist. "Believe you are an important part of society. Believe that being single is not your fault, that you really do want to get married, and you deserve to get married." Feel positively about yourself, your contributions to society, and your worthiness of marriage. Positivity always enjoys company!
And be sure to take care of yourself. "Put a smile on your face and wear nice clothing," Ricki says. "Many different people are watching you and may have ideas of suitable guys."
2. See Past the Head-Over-Heels Love-At-First-Sight Fantasy
"Many times girls are stuck in the mentality that they should feel butterflies when they meet the right person, but it's not like that," Ricki explains. "You can first just like someone and then get to know their personality, and that's when real feelings are in the making."
Rather than focusing mainly on the attraction factor, take time to get to know the person's inner personality. "We have very preconceived notions when we are dating," Talia says. "If older singles didn't put so much emphasis on things they think are important it would be easier for them. Like whether he is taller, shorter, heavier, thinner, good-looking, less good-looking. All those things are so not important."
"You could marry almost anyone as long as your goals are the same and you have open communication about where you are heading in life."
Readiness for marriage and a conscious commitment to making it work are crucial. Talia continues, "You could marry almost anyone as long as your goals are the same and you have open communication about where you are heading in life."
"Be open and don't have a massive list of criteria," Ricki says. She ended up marrying a man of a different nationality and moved to his hometown, though these options did not match her preferences at all. "When you think of most girls, they don't marry men who fit their original list of criteria because ultimately there is a higher plan and it doesn't include things like ‘he should be this tall or have this degree or own this or that.'"
A final practical tip: "You should always go on a second date unless you absolutely have no physical attraction with that person."
3. Get Help (from the right sources)
The world of dating is not always a friendly one -- from singles get-togethers to matchmakers to friends just trying to help out -- and proper guidance is a must in such an important undertaking as finding one's partner in life.
Talia, for instance, warns against speaking with other singles and encourages having an objective third party act as a coach and go-between. "A lot of older singles become very negative and down and it comes across when you ask information about a guy. It's very beneficial to have a mentor who can guide you in the dating, someone you can talk and meet with who can give guidance on how to move the relationship along."
"The most success I had was with my friends who cared about me and were trying to look out for me," Sarah says. "They knew I needed someone learning and very intelligent."
4. Extend Yourself
Keep your eyes and ears open. Even if a date doesn't work out in the way you hoped, it may be a way to do an amazing act of kindness for a friend.
"Dating is such a great opportunity to also think of other women who may be suitable for the guy that wasn't right for you," Ricki says. "Be very grateful that you had the pleasure of going out on a date and then think who you know that could be suitable for this person. Extend a kindness to someone else." When we are kind to others, that kindness often comes back to us, and even greater.
5. Don't Give Up and Don't Stop Praying
With 25 years of dating experience one can only imagine the great storehouses of faith Talia had to rely on. "Deep faith can get you through anything," she says. "You have to really believe to the core of your being."
In addition to this, work on staying happy and thankful for the many positive things that fill your life. "Even when it is really difficult for us we must realize that this is our test," Ricki says. "For those girls who get married quickly, that is not their test."
In whatever language you know best, talk to the Almighty and affirm your belief that He can help you.
*All names changed