Sorta single and dating

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At the age of 42, owing to two long relationships that tailgated each other, I found myself single for the first time since I was 20-something. In my 20s, I thought dating was hard: One had to find a mate who was attractive, single and not just recently single but single long enough to not still be in love with their ex-lover.

They had to be relatively drug-free, "relative" being the operative word, since 20-somethings are allowed to dabble and still be considered a good catch.

When I went out, the bars were filled with singles around my age. Sure, there were a few ancient 40-somethings who wedged themselves against the wall and stared like hungry wolves, but they were just sad.

I would never find myself in a bar at 40 looking for love. When I found my 42-year-old self nursing a Cosmopolitan on a bar stool in the West Village, I knew where that hunger came from.

Hello, 40-year-olds actually need to eat something besides pretzels!

As a 40-something babe, I now understand that dating was easy in my 20s.

Forty-somethings have to find someone who not only meets all the 20-something requirements but is not all the things that decades of ex-lovers were.

My list started with: They must not have a fear of intimacy, be a liar, be a cheater, be a drunk, be boring, be broke, be un-therapized, be selfish in bed, have bad breath, hate their job, wear dirty socks to bed -- my list went on for another two pages.

At the bars, I had the pleasure of watching as a slew of women I was old enough to have birthed paraded before me.

(Gay bars are just as bad as the straight ones.) I felt like a guidance counselor on prom night.

Packing a protein bar and some dried apricots helped soak up the alcohol but certainly didn't enhance my hip factor.

Finally, I buckled down and signed up for -- -- Internet dating.

It didn't seem too hard: Put up a profile of yourself and find a title that says it all. After 16 dates with 11 women, here are the highlights: a woman who drooled when she ate (I'm talking St.

Bernard here), a woman who would rather have eaten glass than make eye contact, a woman who said she was 47 but was well past collecting her first Social Security check, and a woman who made Clint Eastwood (pre-chair) seem a little femme. I was no closer to finding love but a whole lot closer to finding an imaginary friend I might talk to in public.

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