Q: I’m single after 17 years of marriage. What do I need to know about dating and sex in the 21st century?
Just the thought of dating again after marriage can be overwhelming. The first thing you need to decide is if you are ready to date. If the answer is yes, the second thing you need to think about is what type of relationship you’re looking for: a long-term romance, a few casual dates or just a “hookup.” The ability to answer these questions confidently will help you start your re-entry into the dating world.
I think we can all agree that the biggest change to dating in the 21st century is the advent of online dating. There are countless websites and apps that cater to just about any and all dating criteria, including age, religion and sexual orientation. Some dating sites charge a fee to participate (such as eHarmony and Match.com) while others are free (such as PlentyOfFish, Tinder and Bumble). When it comes to online dating, find a site that matches your comfort level and criteria.
How to Meet Your New Beau
For many, the chance to interact with someone virtually before meeting them face to face is comforting. They can help filter potential dating partners faster and help you hone in on what you’re looking for in someone else. Remember to be mindful of what you share digitally. Never share nude photos of yourself, and be careful not to share too many personal details too quickly – you never know where your images and words will end up in the online world.
Of course, there is still the possibility of meeting someone the “old-fashioned way.” Having friends fix you up, going to events and joining teams and social clubs are great ways to meet people as well. The bottom line is to do what you feel most comfortable doing. As with most things, going with your gut when it comes to dating is always a sure bet.
Taking the Next Step
When you do meet someone and decide that you want to become intimate, remember to protect yourself. It may not be romantic, but there is no harm in asking sexual partners when they were last screened for sexually transmitted infections (STIs). In fact, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada, STI rates are on the rise among people in their 40s and 50s. Some of the most common STIs are chlamydia and gonorrhea – both are treatable with antibiotics but have unpleasant symptoms and are easily transmitted from one person to another. There are a number of ways to protect yourself and your partner from STIs, but one of the best methods is regular condom use.
There are really no new rules when it comes to dating in the 21st century. The only rule is to do what makes you feel comfortable.