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“This isn’t something you need to share with your partner—but if you’d like to get engaged in two years, make a mental note of that,” she suggests.

here are certain things about dating that, no matter your age, remain the same, from the butterflies you feel when you meet someone cute to that painfully sweet moment when you exchange your first I love you’s. To help you navigate each decade, we consulted leading dating and relationship experts to pinpoint the common desires and pitfalls of each age group—and got their advice on how you can maximize your dating experience along the way.

And yet let’s be honest: There are also major differences between hooking up fresh out of college, looking for a mate during mid-life, or finding a companion when you’re 60-something. The post-college dating scene can often seem deceptively easy: After all, singles are rarely looking for a long-term commitment, as Katie, 25, from Oklahoma City can attest.

Brush up on your dating skills If you’re dating after a split, ease into it, says Beatty Cohan, co-author of For Better, For Worse, Forever: Discover the Path to Lasting Love.

Make small talk with the person next to you in the grocery store line, or go out on a “practice” date with a friend, asking them to be brutally honest about how you come across. “This doesn’t mean you have to get a facelift,” she says, but it just might be time to trade in that ten-year-old pair of stonewashed, baggy jeans for a pair that actually fits.

Since half of all first marriages fail, the 40-something singles scene is flooded with divorced folk who are back on the market—with somewhat rusty dating skills.

Or people who can be feeling ready for the “real thing”—if only they could find The One.

S., of the Center for the Family at Pepperdine University.

But blanket statements like “I’m not dating anyone for the next six months/until I get promoted” can be dangerous, warns Lavinthal.

“You have to do it when it’s right for you, not when it’s right for someone else,” she says.

Don’t get too set in your ways Another challenge 30-somethings frequently face is being too set in their ways, making it more difficult to embrace their partner’s habits.

“At first, I went along with it, but before long, I was going crazy.” For this reason, compromising skills are key, says Lavinthal.