Now that I’ve been back on the dating scene for a little over a year, I have learned some things.

Mind you, I barely dated before getting married, so I have had much to learn. When I got hitched in 1998, dating sites were barely a thing. I didn’t have a cell phone.

Twenty-plus years later, I was dropped back into the dating pool and have been trying to just keep my head above water. I like to think I’m finally starting to figure some things out.

This COVID-19 pandemic has made dating difficult, but please allow me to humbly offer some of the knowledge I’ve gained, so that all of you other middle-aged singles might be encouraged.

• Do not download Tinder. It will be a waste of your time.

As for online dating in general, it’s not my thing, but I understand how it can help. It’s a huge part of the dating landscape, so I’m all for it. That said …

• When scrolling through a potential date’s photos, remember: The camera can lie. You can use this to your advantage, of course. There’s a reason why most pictures of me on Facebook are from the shoulders up.

• Don’t set any expectations when going on a first date. Maybe you’ll hit it off, maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll get a kiss, maybe you won’t.

Whatever happens, it’s fine. That way you won’t be disappointed.

• Don’t rush into anything. Even if the first date goes swimmingly, that doesn’t mean you need to move in together or get engaged.

If it doesn’t work out with one person, another person will come along soon enough. Or not. Maybe you’ll be alone forever. Who’s to say?

• Don’t be afraid to date out of your comfort zone. It can be real easy to wind up with someone who’s just like your ex, because it’s familiar.

Fellas: If your ex was a blonde, date a redhead. Ladies: If your ex was clean-shaven, date a guy with a beard, because we’re cooler.

Date someone a few years older or younger than you. But to my fellow middle-aged men, and I cannot stress this enough: Don’t try to date college girls. It’s creepy.

• Don’t be a ghoster. If you think a relationship isn’t going anywhere productive, then just tell the other person the truth about how you feel.

Believe me, it’s not easy. But ghosting someone is mean, and no one would blame them if they came after you with a baseball bat.

• Don’t date someone just because you don’t want to be alone. The first few months after a divorce are awful, and there is a lot of loneliness.

That’s where your family and/or good friends come in. Spend as much time with them as you can. They might get tired of your bellyaching, but they’ll tolerate it because they love you.

• And finally, perhaps the most important piece of advice I can offer: Before asking someone out, make sure they don’t already have a significant other.

Not once, but twice I tried to date women who were … unavailable. I really thought I had done my homework, but apparently not.

Asking a lady out and then being told, “My husband wouldn’t like that,” will make a guy want to go into the witness protection program.

It was doubly embarrassing because, you know, I’m a reporter.

I hope this proves helpful, but remember that I’m no expert. I’m just treading water like the rest of y’all.

BRAD LOCKE is senior sports writer for the Daily Journal. Contact him on Twitter @bradlocke or via email at brad.locke@journalinc.com.

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