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    Returning to the Dating Scene

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

    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.

    San Francisco relationship expert and writer Mera Granberg advises women to carry condoms if there is any chance they will be having sex. "Many women I talk to are afraid to carry condoms because they don't want their date to think they are a slut," she says. "But it's your health we're talking about, and you have to be a grown-up. If your date can't handle the fact that you want to protect yourself, you probably aren't interested in him anyway."

    If your relationship continues -- and it's an exclusive arrangement for both of you -- unprotected sex might be OK but only after you both get tested for sexually transmitted diseases -- and wait for reassuring results. Experts warn not to take risks, no matter how convincing your partner may be. If you're not certain about any aspect of protection, talk to your doctor, or ask a trusted and well-informed friend.

    Adult Dating: Things to Remember

    Although most experts say dating is much like riding a bicycle -- you never forget how - it also means that a bump in the road can lead to a nasty spill when you least expect it.

    To help ease the transition from newly single to coupling up again, here's some additional advice that can help.

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