By Rosalind Sedacca, CCT

The pain of dating and breaking up isn’t just reserved for the young.  Singles dating in mid-life and beyond face the same heartbreak, confusion and anxieties as those in their 20’s and 30’s.  These challenges are compounded by the insecurities that frequently come with age, especially for women: Am I still desirable? … Am I still attractive? … Will I ever find another partner?

Celebrity couples are no exception. After 24 years of marriage, Tony Danza, age 59, filed for divorce from his 52-year old wife, Tracy Robinson. Jennifer Aniston, who has been in the headlines with several unsuccessful relationships over the past decade, is now telling reporters that she’s happily single.

Recently, celebrity couple Renee Zellweger and Bradley Cooper, considered one of Hollywood’s top power couples, broke up after dating for two years. When asked during an interview about the nature of their relationship, Cooper mentioned that marriage was not in the picture.  Chances are that Zellweger thought she was in a different relationship – one with a more committed and long-term outcome. It appears both partners were not “on the same page.”

This is one of the most common deal-breakers for long-term relationships. Often, couples get together and make assumptions that the other person shares their goals and intentions.  The problem is that they don’t discuss these options and spell them out clearly.  If you’re not on the same page when it comes to monogamy, time spent together, decisions about raising children, as well as other values and cultural beliefs, you set yourself up for disappointment and inevitable conflict.

Some other success tips for over 40 singles entering a new relationship include:

1. Be aware of unresolved baggage: Emotional scars and wounds from your past can easily sabotage any new relationship.   Take the time to identify unresolved feelings of anger, hurt, guilt and disappointment from the past and accept these feelings as lessons learned.  It then becomes easier to move on.

2. Avoid “fairy-tale” thinking: It’s not your partner’s job to make you happy.  It’s your responsibility to love and value yourself when you enter a relationship. Dependency and neediness are not attractive qualities. It is also an illusion to assume any one person can meet all your needs or desires.

3. Start with friendship first: This level of comfort translates into a solid foundation for love to blossom and intimacy to develop.  Be friends first before you open the door to the physical and emotional closeness that is so essential to a solid partnership.

4. Be sure your expectations are realistic: Are your demands about weight, age, height, financial success and other factors limiting your ability to find the right partner?  Being flexible, objective and fair prevents us from setting ourselves up for the pain and disappointment of unrealistic expectations.

5. Communicate effectively by encouraging open, honest dialogue: In addition to your words, be attuned to your partner’s nonverbal cues and body language. Also, be aware of your own cues that can trigger messages and unconscious signals to your partner.

Rosalind Sedacca, CCT, is the co-author of the new book, 99 Things Women Wish They Knew Before Dating After 40, 50 & Yes, 60! Visit www.womendatingafter40.com to receive a complimentary Tip Sheet, along with a Tip of the Week which spans every facet of dating success – from preparing for your first date to determining whether your partner is a “keeper.”