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Are You Ready To Love Again?

At 49, successful journalist Judsen Culbreth found herself divorced. Not desperate and dateless, but determined to date again, she turned to the Internet and posted a personal ad with her photo.

It reads: "GolfyGal, 49, Let's have fun! Smart, trim professional with kind heart and ready laugh enjoys being active and sociable. If you're looking for a well-rounded, happy companion, I'll suit you to a tee."

It wasn't long before she was matched with Walter Kirkland, who also sent a personal ad with his photo.

His says: "I am in my early 50s and am anxious to meet a successful, self-reliant, intelligent woman with a great sense of humor. I am a successful investment management executive and an avid outdoorsman, golfer and reader. I'm a transplanted Southerner. ... I haven't lost my drawl or my manners. I would be pleased to meet you, and I ask you to take a look at my profile. …"

The two of them will celebrate their fourth wedding anniversary in January. So now Culbreth offers advice for online dating in her new book, "The Boomers' Guide to Online Dating."

For the Young at Heart series, Culbreth and Kirkland visit The Early Show to explain how to know if you're ready to start dating and how to write that all-important online personal ad so you can find the love of your life.

Read an excerpt from Chapter 1:

ARE YOU RELATIONSHIP READY?

Before you even think about browsing all those dating sites, find out whether you're psychologically prepared to embark on a new relationship. Take this quick quiz.

  1. My past relationships, though painful at times,
    have taught me to be more caring and accepting. True False
  2. Men are a lot of fun to be with. True False
  3. I'm a lot of fun to be with. True False
  4. An intimate and loving relationship is a top
    priority for me. True False
  5. I believe I can shape my future. True False
  6. Men are so irresponsible. Frankly, I don't know
    why I'm bothering to look for one. True False
  7. I'm looking for a man to make me happy. True False
  8. Love is destiny. If a relationship is meant to be,
    the right man will find me. True False
  9. I can take or leave sex. True False
  10. Shopping and dining at a good restaurant are
    two of my favorite activities. True False

Scoring: If you answered "true" to questions 1 through 5 and "false" to 6 through 10, you're ripe for love. You've learned a lot from your life experiences. You have a joyful, vibrant, can-do way of thinking, and you're open to sharing with a like-minded, intimate partner. Breeze through this chapter to fine-tune your potential. Did you miss a few answers? You may want to reflect on your feelings about men and rev up your enthusiasm. This chapter will help you feel organized, in control, and headed for a good thing. It's your crash course in relationship-readiness.

What Is Ready?
Readiness is all about attitude, about being emotionally prepared to date. Do you match this formula?

R: Recovered from the past, hopeful about the future
E: Engaged in activities that make you fun and interesting to be with
A: Accepting attitude toward men
D: Destined for love because you believe you can shape your destiny
Y: Yearning to connect and communicate with a loving and nurturing partner who respects your values, shares your interests, and wants a close relationship. If this doesn't describe you, let's get you READY.

Recovered from the Past
I've been there. There, where you're hurt, sad, angry, disappointed and, most of all, alone.

I remember exactly when I moved from there to here. At the time, simple, everyday tasks overwhelmed my ability to cope. One of the most frustrating was gathering quarters for the laundry machines in my co-op's basement. I never could get to the bank before it closed, so I spent the week asking for change from cranky store clerks. In one store, I braced myself for the usual "I can only give you four quarters," when, instead, a woman smiled and said, "I'll give you all that you need."

I'm sure she was an angel in disguise, because she had the words to comfort me and help me examine my life in a way I never had before. What did I need? What would it take to feel abundantly whole? What did I need to do and know so I would stop repeating the same old mistakes?

The first thing I had to do was clear my heart. I realized I was a scorekeeper — an unfair one at that. Some days, the unarticulated rules for getting along with me revolved around romance. Points were deducted for any perceived waning attentiveness and ardor. An imperceptible mood switch later, and the score hedged on household helpfulness. ("If you loved me," according to this game, "you should be able to remember to bring home tall kitchen garbage bags with handles. They were on the list!") I called my mate on everything. I couldn't let anything go. Disappointments accrued like back taxes. They were cumulative and compounded, neither forgotten nor forgiven.

I didn't want to bring this grouchy taskmaster, with her indiscernible playbook and unpardonable scoring system, into a new relationship. I ceased tallying my hurts and examined ways I'd been hurtful myself — inattentive, critical, unresponsive and self-righteous. As soon as I owned up to my own faults, admitted my own poor performance and responsibility in my choices, actions and attitude, I felt free of the power of the past. I was open to the new and eager to learn.

Be an angel to yourself. Examine the past and then release it. Tear up the scorecard and start fresh. If you don't, the legacy will seep out in big and little ways — in unappealing sarcasm, defensiveness, sadness, brittleness, criticism or control. Let go to make space for positive feelings and behavior.