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It can be easier for some people to avoid intimacy altogether; however, at some point, the desire for companionship may motivate you to move forward.

Suddenly Single

Sex and Dating after 40

By Dr Laurie Betito

Navigating sex and dating is hard enough for the young and inexperienced. It can be just as challenging for older folks to find themselves in the dating game again. Things like safe sex, dating etiquette, and communicating personal boundaries can be daunting. After all, if you were monogamous for many years, that partner likely knew how you liked to be touched, what buttons to press, and got into a habitual routine of just respecting your boundaries without you having to remind him or her. Safe sex was never an issue.

All that has changed. Now you have to start the dance with a new partner (possibly one of many) who may or may not want to commit. To contend with all of this on top of whatever mourning process you’re going through over the ending of your previous relationship can be overwhelming. “Scary” may not even begin to describe what it is you’re going through.

One sentiment I hear echoed is, “It’s scary out there now.” Even if you are too old to get pregnant, or already had a vasectomy to avoid having more children, you must insist on using a condom and other safe sex practices. Although pregnancy is not a concern, halting the transmission of sexually transmitted infections (STI) must be at the forefront of actions. Having to learn how to talk about your safe sex needs and concerns, when it wasn’t even something that you really talked about before, can be a little intimidating. It’s necessary to learn to communicate what you need in a calm and direct fashion. And you must be willing to walk away from anyone who does not respect your wishes in this matter.

Other challenges include performance anxiety that cause a struggle to function sexually or allow you to enjoy sex with new partners. Your body may be very used to a certain touch, and now that the touch is gone and someone new is touching you, the uncertainty of whether or not your body is up to it can provoke a less than stellar physical reaction.

It can be easier for some people to avoid intimacy altogether; however, at some point, the desire for companionship and connection may motivate you to move forward. Know that it’s okay to feel nervous and, more importantly, to be comfortable letting your partner know you’re nervous. Sometimes just talking about it can help. With the right supportive partner, it can make all the difference.

If you find yourself suddenly single again, just remember that sex is still just sex. What likely changed the most are the conversations about sex a dating couple have. These conversations are likely a lot more progressive than what you may be used too, especially if you originally dated at a time when those same topics were not discussed during courting. Just keep in mind that few topics are taboo. You’re going to be all right as you learn to love again.

 

Summer 2016, Vol 8 N°3

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