Reviewed by Varnada Karriem-Norwood on June 21, 2012

Sources

Michael Perelman, PhD, Sex and Marital Therapist, Co-director, Human Sexuality Program Clinical Assoc. Professor of Psychiatry Reproductive Medicine and Urology, N.Y. Presbyterian Hospital/Weil Cornell Medical Center

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Video Transcript

: It's been forever since I dated; how do I start?

Michael Perelman, PhD, Sex and Marital Therapist: There's a huge degree of anxiety that people experience when they have to sort of get back in the dating scene. You know especially today, you might be sort of more modern and go online, you go to WebMD to get information about illness and medicine and healthy lifestyles and in the same way, the dating services are a billion dollar industry. And yet it's very intimidating when you look at that. And one of the questions many people ask themselves is how am I going to handle re-entering, I haven't had sex with another person in 15 years. What am I going to do? And frequently at the end of a relationship, in divorce especially, there's a lot of difficulty sexually. It's often part of the problem. It can be the cause or consequence of the tension in the marriage, but the fact of the matter is people frequently aren't having sex together at the end, or if they are, it's often not very good sex. So there's an anxiety about getting back out there. I think it's very important that those people get some reassurance, both from with in the larger media, like yourselves, and some people needing brief professional consultation, just to help them re-enter that dating scene.

Narrator: If I'm a 40, 50 year old divorced or widowed woman, what would you say to me? If I'm a 40, 50 year old woman who just gotten divorced or widowed what do you say to me as your patient?

Michael Perelman, PhD, Sex and Marital Therapist: I guess I'd ask you some questions first, in terms of what are your concerns if any, what are you looking forward to you, and if I heard some of those concerns regarding sexually related diseases, we'd talk about protection, how do you engage in safe sex, especially the guys who come in who are so afraid of how aggressive the women are going to be. I reassure them that they should be so lucky, you know, that all she wants to do is throw you done on a bed, that usually she also has some of the same concerns and anxieties and you can take things slowly, and because of that you have an opportunity to more gradually re-enter. That for the most part, what you see in the media, of people jumping in and out of bed together immediately is not reality, and most people would prefer a more gradual, progressive getting to know you, both mentally, emotionally as well as physically, and the physical getting to know you is a little bit more slow than you might fear. And the biggest thing is to help them not avoid the interaction and not create a sense of isolation, because it's the isolation and the staying at home that actually can lead to a little weirdness that could cause a problem when you start dating, because you're just not part of, you're not out there, out and about and a part of the world. So I would encourage you to do the things you really like to do, and don't worry so much about who you're going to meet, who you're not going to meet, just get back and find out who you are again, do the things that are most meaningful to you, and be receptive to meeting new people and it will take a more natural course in development.