Starting Over After 50: Getting into bed with the dating game
You’re alone again… starting over. You’ve taken that big step forward… you’ve decided to date. Match.com here you come! You feel vulnerable, slightly insecure, and a tad off balance. Welcome to the world of dating after midlife: it’s a weird combo of fun, surprise, great laughs – and downright intimidating at the same time.
I’ll bet you can identify with this: the first 3 dates with Bernie went really well. A lot in common, mixed with giggling, profound discussions, hand holding, and a few little quick kisses. This is the fourth date and he’s delivered you to your doorstep.
You’ve got a lifetime of wisdom and savoir-faire, and yet, here you are standing on your own front doorstep, seeing yourself like an awkward teenager in a movie scene. Do I invite him in? He’s intriguing. Should I? Shouldn’t I? Believe me, he’s asking himself the same questions!
In any case, the question is: is intimacy with this man in the cards for you tonight? The answer is different for every woman (and man) depending on your personal comfort level with this person and your background. Rule #1 has not changed in the 40 years since you were a teen: Say no if you don’t want to! It’s ok, and it honors your self-respect. Wait until you both are ready.
On the other hand, if you feel a little tingly, and it sounds like an intimate romp might be fun, go for it! From my years as a human sexuality educator, let me tell you: sex can be just as enjoyable and, in many cases, even more fulfilling than when you are younger.
Some crucial rules have changed, however, and you need to be aware of them so that the passion payoff for you is pleasure, not pain. Here are the issues you really need to know about – and other dating sites don’t address. Going in with eyes wide open will make for a sexier, more fulfilling, and safer evening for both of you.
How to Get Ready for Bed
Here are the top 8 non-negotiable tips for a safe and sexy evening.
Be flexible and keep your sense of humor:
- Your intimate routine and his won’t match at all, at first, I guarantee. You’ll fumble around comically. Expect it. Like you, he’s doing the best he can with what he’s learned. Expect surprises and create your own new intimate dance. Be patient.
- Remember, he has no idea what your preferences are. Communication is key. After your initial intimate interludes, open the conversation. Tell him what you liked and what you would rather sidestep. Ask him what he liked and what changes he’d like you to make.
- Keep your sense of humor: Bonnie, 69, had checked her make-up and decided she looked younger without her glasses, so off they came. Tonight would be their third date, and first real intimacy. Where’s the lube? She grabbed the sample in the foil packet, then went off to Glen’s. Hours later, sheets move, hands wander, mouths connect, breath comes fast. Bonnie grabs the lube, rips open the packet, and lowers it under the sheets. Suddenly Glen stops. What’s that smell? Nail polish remover! Oops. Wrong foil product! Bonnie’s note to self: Keep glasses on when locating lube! By the way, Bonnie and Glen are still together – and still chortling over the foil packet episode.
On the serious side…
- Carry condoms with you. Our generation tends to rebel against using condoms, mostly because of being in long-term relationships and skipping over the AIDS epidemic. Today, the threat of getting infected is alive and well. The 55+ population has one of the fastest growing HIV diagnosis rates.
- Learn to ask if your new sex partner is clean, meaning clear of any STIs (sexually transmitted infections). Most women shy away from asking. It’s tough to do, but it can literally save your life. Here’s the question to ask: “Are you clean from STIs?” or “Do you have any STI’s?” It takes 2 seconds to ask. A STI lasts a lifetime – and you have to tell every man you ever have intimacy with, about it. I vote for the 2 second investment of asking. If you don’t know him well enough to ask, it’s not time for intimacy, yet. He’s most likely free and healthy. Nonetheless, please ask.
- Carry lubricant. Women’s natural lubrication lessens after menopause. Use lots of lube. It makes all kinds of intimacy possible—and pleasurable. No lube? Use saliva. Yes, it’s ok.
- Understand about men at our age. They’re worried about performance. Be considerate and patient. Things happen more slowly for them, too. (Men—ladies are worried about body changes. Things have shifted in the last 30 years. Be complimentary.)
- Think pleasure, not performance. Let go of the orgasm- mania you felt in your 20s and 30s. You can be just as happy (and so can he) without an orgasm. Yes, you can.
Intimacy after midlife is a wonderful relief after the pressures to perform of youth. Take your time, don’t take yourself too seriously, and enjoy your evening under the sheets. Don’t take health risks, however. Conjure up the courage to ask what you need to know. For more information about sexuality and intimacy after midlife, take a look at my book Sexperienced: Guide for the Seasoned Woman Seeking New Possibilities. Funny, poignant, and practical. Men love it, too!
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