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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 continued...

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.

Take it slow. Don't pressure yourself to make any decisions after a first date. In many cases it will be crystal clear that there is no connection, in which case you can tactfully explain this before the date ends, or in a follow-up phone call or email. If you aren't sure if the chemistry is there, and want to see the person again, go ahead -- it can develop over time. In most instances you should know within three or four dates if this is a relationship worth pursuing.

Consider your children. If you have children, it is important to keep their needs front and center. This means protecting them from adult issues and disappointments. Your children don't need to know all the ins and outs of your dating life, and they don't need to meet your dates until you are certain they will be playing a significant role in your life. When the time comes, arrange for a casual meeting but keep it short. Experts say it's not a good idea to bring anyone into your children's life until you are certain they'll be around for a while.

Get the memo. This is a phrase coined by Mera Granberg to describe the importance of listening to your date -- and really hearing those subtle but revealing things he says that are omens of what's to come. Granberg contends that whenever we meet a new person, there is always a memo, whether we want to hear it or not.

"It can be something as simple as 'I'm not very good at relationships,'" Granberg says. But that little "memo," says Granberg, is an indication of who he is and what's important to him, so pay attention. Keeping your eyes and ears open can prevent you from building illusions that will come crashing down later on. "When I look at all my relationships that went south," Granberg says, "I can find the memo and I always got it early. But I didn't actually read the memo." Paying attention to a potential partner's messages, she says, is the best way to prevent a dating disaster in the making.

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