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Returning to the Dating Scene

Don’t let fear prevent you from finding love again in midlife.

Adult Dating: Taking the Plunge continued...

Once you've made a connection -- either online, through friends, or by striking up a conversation with someone in the grocery store -- and you've arranged to get together, there are some important things to remember.

1. Meet on neutral territory. Arrange to meet at a café or restaurant rather than at your home or his. If you have made a connection online and know nothing about your date, you may want to be extra cautious by letting a friend know where you will be meeting and at what time.

2. Keep it short and sweet. For your first meeting, it is best to arrange a coffee date rather than a dinner or an afternoon at a museum. If you don't seem to be hitting it off, it's easier for both parties when there's a quick escape route! Moreover, to help ease the anxiety of a first-time date, Rosenfeld suggests you "sandwich" the meeting between two other activities you really like.

"Before you meet your date, do something that puts you in a positive frame of mind; then, after the date is over, meet up with a friend," he says. If the date is a disaster, you'll have someone to commiserate with. And if it's great - you'll have someone to celebrate with.

3. Keep the conversation casual. This is not the time to discuss your favorite baby names or your ongoing feud with your ex. There will be plenty of time for such discussions if you continue dating, but a first meeting should be light and breezy. Ask about his interests and how he spends his time, and share the same information about yourself with him.

4. Don't forget to have fun. Don't pressure yourself into deciding if this is the person you want to grow old with -- remember, its just coffee! Try to make the outing entertaining and interesting -- for both of you. Jonathan Rosenfeld suggests that people view dating as an adventure. "Everyone knows that adventures have ups and downs and they expect that," he says. "If you think of dating the same way, you are less likely to be disappointed."

Adult Dating: Getting Physical

Assuming you and your date "hit it off," invariably the question of sex will arise -- sometimes as early as the first date. What's important to remember here is: It's your timetable. So, don't hesitate to slow things down if your date is ready, but you are not. There are no "shoulds" when it comes to dating at midlife and physical intimacy, and you have a right to go at your own pace.

When the time arrives that you do feel ready, when, how, and where is less important than basic safety. If you've been out of the dating scene for some time, you may be unfamiliar with the essentials of safe sex. The message is simple -- and urgent: Always use a condom. Whether or not pregnancy is a possibility, you need to make sure you are protected from HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.

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